Throughout most of my contemplative practice, the breath has been my natural access point into realms of Divine expansion. So much so that it has become my sacred symbol of consent during Centering Prayer.
Over the years, I have also studied and practiced many eastern breathing techniques and have found they are easily incorporated into my Centering Prayer practice as a way to embody and deepen relationship with the heart of the Divine.
Within some Buddhist and yogic schools, there is an energy highway within the human body known as the central channel. This channel runs from the crown of our heads down to our reproductive region just in front of our spine, where our chakras are also located. These map to Fr. Keating’s teachings on the energy centers within the human form.
Since earliest times, holy men and women of all sacred traditions have incorporated breath into spiritual practices. The experience of Pentecost is one of Divine breath filling and transforming the whole being of the disciples. In my experience, sacred breath practices bring me deeper into the Sacred Heart.
Our breath is always available to us to cultivate awareness of the Divine. In my own practice all breath work is done through the belly. A rule of thumb is “low and slow”: bringing the breath into the belly using the diaphragm muscle to draw the air down. I imagine the Divine entering via the breath.
What a grace it is to be to be fully intoxicated, fully submerged into divine energy, where time and personal egoic concepts are dismantled and all that is left is resting within each sacred breath.
Using the breath as a sacred symbol during Centering Prayer is one of the most natural ways to consent to God’s presence and action within. Our breath is God-given and allows us to co-breathe with the Divine. It allows us to enter even more deeply into our bodies, especially the heart. For me the breath is a doorway into ever-deepening chambers within the divine and physical heart.
Using my breath I visualize inhaling through the third eye chakra down the central channel through all the energy centers within the body. Once the breath reaches the root chakra, the exhalation rises outward along the central channel allowing that Divine breath to expand outward and into the world. This process is done solely on instinct and with enough practice this way of breathing becomes automatic. Each day you can imagine the breathing traversing this central life-giving channel.
Most days I use different contemplative practices to complement my Centering Prayer practice. I’m a huge fan of active prayer and mantra recitation such as John Main’s “Maranatha”, but mostly I stay in relationship with the Divine through the sacred breath. I love the term “sacred breath” because when I practice breath work with the Divine, this is my experience.
We can explore this by simply learning to breathe in specific ways with the intention of being in relationship with God. Let’s take for example something as simple as breathing out twice as long as the inhalation: If we inhale for five seconds then exhale for 10 seconds, we can experience a deep level of rest in God. If we continue to use this simple practice as an “active prayer” practice throughout the day it can facilitate an ever-expanding relationship with the holy Divine.
Over time this becomes a natural and spontaneous way of consent. I find myself deeply connected to the Divine with minimal effort. The breath is a gift from the Divine, an invitation for us to continuously enter deeper and deeper into relationship. When we know that we are breathing in tandem with the Divine it begins to be revealed to us just how much God wants to be in relationship with us. The Holy Spirit (Pneuma) stays with me continuously throughout the day. This is not abstract knowledge; it is something I experience in the depth of my heart. I’m fully engaged with the sacred breath through my inhalations and exhalations, through the way I time it and the way I direct the sacred breath within my body. The breath has become a sacred grace bestowed upon me, a doorway into the contemplative heart and for that I am eternally grateful.
May all beings enter their Christ nature and find spiritual refuge in the sacred breath, enjoying the Divine through each and every inhalation and exhalation.
Corey Krupowicz is a husband, father and tattoo artist in the Hudson Valley of New York. For more information visit www.windhorsesacredarts.com