Take a Deep Breath

September 16, 2017

by Maria Fontaine

One day I noticed that I was a bit short of breath when just doing normal, low-exertion activities. I was concerned, so I asked my ever-present Jesus what the cause of this was. (After following His suggestions, which I’m going to share with you below, I had no further problems with this.) Here’s what He had to say in prophecy:

You need more oxygen. It is one of the fundamental building blocks of your body. It is needed by every cell and is used in many of the body’s processes and chemical reactions that produce many things essential to life.

In times of exertion, stress, injury, sickness, or threatening circumstances, your need for oxygen increases rapidly. Your blood works to replenish that essential oxygen primarily by carrying it from your lungs to the cells and organs where it is needed.

In a perfect environment with a perfectly functioning body, your lungs could provide all the oxygen your body needs, but many times in this imperfect world, people’s lungs struggle to pass on the minimum of oxygen needed.

For some, even small increases in that need for oxygen can push their body into emergency mode as it struggles to cope. That’s what is happening when you get out of breath from even minor exertion.

Maria: Our bodies were created for movement and stretching and exertion in a variety of ways. But so much in our modern lifestyles, including many of our conveniences, fight against us using our bodies in the way God intended them to be used. So, unless we make a special effort to find ways to push our bodies into action and exertion, it doesn’t usually happen.

For many of us, our lifestyles often require that we sit or stand in one position for many hours each day, during which time we aren’t keeping our bodies active, moving about, bending, stretching, and working the many muscles that keep everything functioning properly. Since we aren’t exerting ourselves, we tend to breathe more shallowly.

An inactive work environment isn’t the only problem. We also often find ourselves in stuffy rooms where the air lacks the oxygen we should be getting. In air-conditioned buildings or cars or other locations, the air may seem fresher, but it is usually recirculated to save energy. So again, the oxygen in the air isn’t being replenished. That leaves you with less of this essential element to absorb.

We also have to contend with air that is polluted with toxins like smoke, chemicals, dust, and gases that either diminish the amount of oxygen in the air or that coat or damage the fragile membranes in our lungs that transfer oxygen to the blood.

If you know anyone who suffers from asthma or emphysema, you can easily see the serious effects that can develop from not being able to get sufficient oxygen.

Even some elements of our cultures and the images and expectations that society foists on us can fight against our getting the vital oxygen we need. When your lungs are full of air, they extend down some into the abdominal area, causing it to expand. However, the usual image that society tends to promote as the way our bodies should look, both men and women, is to have a big chest and the smallest abdomen possible.

Trying to maintain that image, even subconsciously, can result in people tensing or constricting their abdomen. That restricts the action of taking in full, deep breaths. Obesity can have a similar effect, because there is less room for your lungs to expand.

When your breathing is shallow, only the upper part of your lungs gets inflated. That means that substantial portions of your lungs aren’t filled with air, and the amount of oxygen that can transfer to your blood is considerably reduced.        

Another issue is that as we grow older, our bodies tend to function less efficiently in many areas. This can amplify our breathing problems.

There isn’t much that we can do about some of these issues, because we may not have much choice in where we need to live or what contaminants are in the air around us, but we can take steps to minimize the negative impacts when and where we can.

One of the steps that the Lord led me to take to help me get more oxygen is to practice deep breathing. This is especially helpful since our lungs are one of the five major cleansing organs of our bodies (along with our skin, colon, liver, and kidneys).

What is deep breathing and how do you do it?

You’ve probably experienced those times when you’re really pushing yourself in some intense physical work or some exercise regimen until your body is gasping for air. While it’s true that this is getting air deeper into your lungs, this is more of an extreme reaction by your body. While that is getting more oxygen into your body, that’s not what I’m describing here.

Deep breathing is a controlled, relaxed, and more normal function that can be done very quietly and unobtrusively, whether you’re sitting at your desk, standing in a stationary position, lying on your bed, or whatever else you’re doing. It may take a bit of practice at first if you’re not used to breathing this way, as it did with me, but I made it my goal to keep going and persevering, and now it’s becoming quite natural.

Take in a long, relaxed, deep breath, allowing the muscles below your rib cage to pull the air down as your abdomen expands. Your ribs should only rise a little. In this way, you are allowing the area below your ribs to expand as you breathe in. To exhale, do the reverse by tightening the abdominal area to push out the air. This allows the maximum amount of air to fill your lungs. It also gives your abdominal muscles a steady, all-day-long exercise regimen that will tone and strengthen them.

Some people initially find it a little hard to relax the abdominal muscles as they try to breathe in deeply. This was a bit of a challenge for me at first. I found the solution by focusing on keeping my chest from expanding as I inhaled. That automatically forced the air down into the lower part of my lungs. I even put my hand on my chest at first to check that it wasn’t moving too much.

As I researched more about the potential benefits of deep breathing, I found a wide range of helpful things that it can do. Here are a few of the benefits, which I hope will encourage you to try it out.

  • Practicing deep breathing throughout the day is an important part of keeping the body internally clean, and providing your body’s systems with the necessary oxygen to operate at optimum capacity. It can enhance your daily exercise.
  • Deep breathing helps provide a calming effect that can reduce stress and lower blood pressure.
  • When your brain is receiving ample oxygen through deep breathing, it helps your thinking to be clearer and even helps improve memory and focus, and often improves your moods.
  • It helps to improve posture, as it strengthens muscles in the torso area.
  • It improves immune function.
  • It increases efficiency in the lymphatic system.
  • It releases endorphins that facilitate better sleep.
  • It improves cellular regeneration.

If Jesus hadn’t brought deep breathing to my attention, I don’t know if I would have ever realized how important this simple practice is, which can be done anywhere and anytime throughout the day.

In presenting this or any other helpful ideas or techniques, my intention is not to diminish other approaches to health that I’ve shared with you or ones that you have personally discovered. The process of keeping our bodies as healthy as possible includes a number of things, such as proper nutrition, sufficient sleep and exercise, managing stress, as well as deep breathing. We may survive on limited amounts of some of these, but adding them to our lives as much as we can will always provide improvements that would otherwise have been missing.

As a final point on this topic, the Lord has fashioned our bodies and all their functions in wonderful ways, and, like everything in creation, He made them to help illustrate spiritual principles. When speaking in prophecy, He gave the following little picture about this:

Breathing in air from the physical atmosphere is a beautiful illustration of breathing in My Spirit. Breathing deeply in the physical revitalizes your body, helps to cleanse it and flush out toxins, provides oxygen that every cell needs in order to function, and even serves to calm emotions.

When you “breathe” in My Spirit through communing with Me through My Word or prayer or in other ways, it cleanses your spirit, giving you renewed faith and the peace that surpasses what your mind can understand. It imbues you with hope, clarifies your vision and purpose, inspires you, and enables you to keep progressing and accomplishing your purposes in this life.

The habit of deep breathing in the physical can take some effort to develop, but the more you do it, the more it contributes to good overall health.

Likewise, living in My presence and partaking of all that is yours in spirit takes effort to develop. However, the more you breathe in My Spirit, the more your understanding of Me becomes clearer and more invigorated. So breathe deeply in the physical and in the Spirit.