During story time in worship a few weeks ago, Jennifer Swick, our wonderful acting director of family ministries, taught us box breathing (or square breathing). This is a fantastic practice for children and adults because it really helps to calm down heightened anxiety, nervousness, over excitement, or meltdowns right there in the moment. And it’s so easy —just breathe and count. We can all do that!
As a refresher or for those who weren’t at church that day, here’s how it works. Exhale all the way out to get started. Then inhale for a count of 4, hold for a count of four, exhale for a count of 4, hold for a count of four. Repeat as many times as you like, being mindful of any dizziness or shortness of breath. You can change the count number and even add hand motions, like Jennifer showed us (I bet she’ll give you a personal tutorial if you ask!). If you like visual queues, here’s a fun video with puffer fish to help keep count.
I love body-based practices, especially breath work. As Resma Menakem teaches us, “when you can settle your body, you are more likely to be calm, alert and fully present, no matter what is going on around you. A settled body enables you to harmonize and connect with other bodies around you, while encouraging those bodies to settle as well.”
During Sunday worship, this can especially be felt during life passages. An initial shuffling until stillness blankets us as we note our collective joys and sorrows, our concerns for the world, the love and care we share. It’s a palpable feeling, this settled energy, one we cultivate together, attuned to our bodies, to each other and to all that is beyond us.
As we explore resiliency this month, tap into your body queues. Notice if your stomach is tight, shoulders clenched, throat tight, heart aching. Notice what helps you soothe, release, settle in. Notice the bodies around you and how your calm body can help others too.
We can build emotional and spiritual resiliency through our amazing bodies. And this settling in is a foundation for healing. May we remember to keep returning to our body and our breath.
“Breathe. Let go. Remind yourself that this very moment is the only one you know you have for sure.” — Oprah Winfrey
— Rev. Terri