Last week I introduced the breath prayer. I talked about the use of breath in keeping us in the present moment and in connecting us with the Sacred Presence that surrounds us always. I shared a story from my own spiritual and life journey of how I have used the breath prayer to connect me to the Sacred and overcome my fears and anxieties, with the help of God.
Last week I invited you to practice the breath prayer by paying full attention to your inhale and exhales. I suggested that the movement of the inhale resonated with this phrase: “Fill me with Your Presence” and the exhale with this phrase: “until I am empty of all but You.”
This week I want to share another form of the breath prayer. This form, again, invites you to be present with your breath. It then layers onto the breath a mantra that contains two parts: one for your inhale, one for your exhale.
The phrases above are a good example. They are from a mantra that my mentor in spiritual direction, Rev. Dr. Marcus Pomeroy, taught me years ago. If you were to use them as a mantra it would look like:
As you breathe in you would think to yourself: Fill me with Your Presence
As you breathe out you would think to yourself: Until I am empty of all but You.
The layering of a manta over the inhale/exhale of the breath gives our minds something to ponder, something to hold onto. With this mantra, we stay focused in prayer.
The mantra gives our minds something to contemplate and focus on. Our hearts and our bodies have direction in order to engage and join the prayer. Our spirit and energetic body resonate with the mantra. The breath prayer becomes a full bodied, full being experience.
How do you find the mantra to use?
There are many resources for simple breath prayer mantras. Here are two of my favorite resources:
Cole Arthur Riley, creator of @BlackLiturgies on Facebook, offers a weekly breath prayer prompt that focuses on justice work, especially racial justice work. They are powerful prayers to engage in. These prayers ask us not just to sit in the breath prayer but also to do the work to manifest the breath prayer of justice in this world.
Joyce Rupp’s Cup of Our Life offers a breath prayer for each day of the six week devotional. Her breath prayers are simple affirmations of faith and our connection to the Sacred. Her many breath prayers teach you how to turn any affirmation in your life into a breath prayer experience.
I invite you to give this type of breath prayer a try.
Find a quiet place to sit where you will not be interrupted.
Take a few deep breaths to center yourself.
When you feel fully present, begin the mantra.
Possible mantras: Inhale: I listen; exhale: You are here
Inhale: Hold me; exhale: in Your Love
Inhale: I can search for true belonging; exhale: God, keep me near as I wander.
(The first two are from Joyce Rupp, the last one from Cole Arthur Riley)
Enter into breath prayer for 5-20 minutes. Allow yourself to sink deeply into the mantra. If and when the mantra disappears, let it go and be fully present to the experience of it in your body. If your mind wanders, gently pick the mantra back up again refocusing yourself.
When you feel complete, offer your gratitude for the Sacred’s Presence. Gently open your eyes, wiggle your toes and fingers, reorient to the room you are in.
Go about your day coming back to the mantra when you feel uncentered.