have you ever suddenly realized that you’ve been holding your breath? is your jaw clenched right now? how tight are your shoulders? give yourself a gift… exhale.
and when you take your next breath in, make it intentional, slow, and long.
then exhale again… with more intention, more force, and longer than before.
breathe in… God’s grace.
breathe out… insecurity, shame, fear, doubt, isolation, pain, suffering, grief, anger, control, selfishness, anxiety… whatever it is that is heavy in your mind and heart.
repeat until you feel safe and centered.
congratulations. you just created a safe space for yourself.
the more that you do this, you teach your body to be calmer and your mind to be more present.
why is this important? we’ll get there…
it’s become apparent in this trauma-filled world that not everyone gets what it means to “be there” for someone. especially when they start by telling us about our sin and what we’ve done wrong and what we might possibly do wrong in the future and all the consequences that come along with it. this approach adds to the trauma that already blocks unhealed parts of ourselves from allowing God’s grace to move in and accept that we deserve healing. in his book Breathing Under Water, Companion Journal, Richard Rohr notes that when people shame others using sin as the starting point it is a “waste of time and God’s mercy.”
healing starts in safe places and with people who can guide us to God’s grace. we are called to sit with others and shepherd them towards God, not shame them into it.
because we are created by God, we already have it written in our DNA how to get well. the hard part is silencing our mind and allowing the body to rest in a safe, loving atmosphere, where God can aid in the healing. this is when our brains go from trauma-response mode to logical-thinking mode. none of this will happen if our basic needs are not being met. safety is a basic need. if we do not feel safe, the healing process is hindered.
this is why it’s important to be able to create a safe place for ourselves. until we can learn to trust others, until we can physically get into the presence of another, until we can open our hearts to share… we must first exhale.
“[Jesus] saw the great number of people needing help, he was moved in his spirit with great compassion for them. He knew they were pushed down with no one to help and scattered about like sheep without a shepherd to watch over them.” – Matthew 9:36
there are so many forces internally and externally trying to get us to scatter instead of being centered, present, and focused on moving towards healing. so just for today…
how can you create safe places for yourself & others while shepherding towards the grace of God?
how often can you give yourself the gift of the exhale?
1 Rohr, Richard. Breathing Under Water Companion Journal: Spirituality and the Twelve Steps. Franciscan Media, 2021.