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Breath is God’s gift to us. “The Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life and the man became a living being.” (Genesis 2: 7 NIV) Every breath is a gift of God to us: each breath means He still wants us alive on earth, learning about Him, serving Him.

HOW we breathe is also God’s gift to us. He made our bodies able to speed up our breathing in order to run, to flee, to increase the energy and output of our bodies. And He made us so that when we relax, when we sleep, when we are peaceful and content, we breathe very slowly.

God also gave us the gift of being able to use HOW we breathe to change how we feel:  we can breathe deeply and rapidly and feel energized. And we can breathe deeply and slowly to calm ourselves down.  Many studies have been done that show the effectiveness of breathing deeply and slowly to counteract anxiety and produce a sense of calm.

So use this gift from God to calm yourself down. Deep breathing not only relaxes us, it also provides oxygen-starved cells with new life and carries toxins out of our system. Both aspects of breathing deeply help prevent and cure the symptoms that come from cumulative stress.

Here’s how you do it:

Make sure the clothing around your waist or abdomen is not tight. Take a deep, deep breath: a BIG one, not only in your chest, but down into your abdomen. Then, exhale slowly. It helps slow your breathing if you imagine you are blowing gently on a hot drink. Don’t hurry to breathe again: inhale only when your body tells you to. Breathe in slowly and deeply again. Breathe out slowly. Concentrate only on breathing easily and deeply, and nothing else.

That’s it, you have just learned how to breathe deeply.  You can do it for as long as you want to, but even just a few deep breaths help you calm down. Use it whenever you feel anxiety building up, or feel  agitated and wound up.

One of the beauties of deep breathing for calming and cleansing is that you can do it anytime, anywhere. Most likely, no one else will even notice what you are doing. You can do it as you’re nervously waiting to be introduced before you give a speech; you can do it in the doctor’s office. You can do it standing in line, or before you go to sleep at night.

Children, too, can learn to calm themselves down by breathing deeply. If they seem averse to trying it, give them an imaginative exercise like pretending they are their favorite pet, or a giant cat, stretching and breathing deeply.

Enjoy God’s gift of breathing. Use it for health and rest.