Originally published on Yoganonymous, 2015
The breath prayer is a contemplative Christian practice dating back to the sixth century. After a period of stillness, being especially mindful of the breath, the practitioner simply notices the first 3-5 words that reveal themselves. Setting the intention of allowing the Divine to speak these words to you as you enter into the breath is what makes the practice special. The words of your breath prayer may change over time as the breath allows, or you may find that the 3-5 word prayer serves as an anchor prayer for your ongoing spiritual practices. Some examples of well-known breath prayers in the Christian tradition include: Holy Wisdom, guide me; Lord have mercy; Holy one, heal me. Eastern practitioner may notice similarities to the practice of meditation and mantra.
I recently went on a retreat where one of my spiritual teachers invited us into the practice of breath prayer. I entered into the practice in a space of beginner’s mind; not anticipating, not expecting and spirit greeted me with a pleasant surprise. My breath prayer that revealed itself to me was literally about my breath! The breath dances… After contemplating the beauty of this phrase as a prayer for several more moments, the following poem flowed from my pen when I allowed the breath to dance through me:
Breath is Life Dancing Through Me
The breath dances
The dance breathes
I breathe with my dance
I dance with my breath
As I breathe I dance
As I dance I breathe
My breath allows for my dance
My dance allows for my breath
My breath is life dancing through me
May my dance celebrate this life.
A simple breath prayer, a simple poem, yet for me, powerful reminders. I am reminded in this practice of Gregory Macguire’s wisdom, conveyed in his book A Lion Among Men: “Remember to breathe. It is after all, the secret of life.”
Dr. Jamie Marich
Curator of the Dancing Mindfulness expressive arts blog: a celebration of mindfully-inspired, multi-modal creativity
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Dancing Mindfulness/The Institute for Creative Mindfulness is an organizational member of the International Association of Expressive Arts Therapists, the Dance First Association, and NALGAP: The Association of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, Addiction Professionals and Their Allies; Dancing Mindfulness proudly partners with The Breathe Network and Y12SR: The Yoga of 12-Step Recovery in our shared missions.