Imagine with me
two scenarios.

In the first one, you are inhaling
oxygen the whole time, your lunges fill up to the maximum and instead of
exhaling the only movement allowed is taking … another breath.  Try it.  See how many inhaling actions you can perform without

Now for the

Predictably, this
one has to do with exhaling. 
Release as much oxygen as you can, empty your lunges and instead of
inhaling release additional oxygen. 
Try it.  See how many
exhaling actions you can perform without inhaling.

I have asthma and
the exercise I describe above is one that I have to undergo at least once a
year when I see the specialist. 
The test consists of these two binaries.  Total exhaling and then inhaling.   More than once this specific exercise has almost led
to my fainting.

In order for us
to experience life, we need these two binaries to work in rhythm.  We need a healthy rhythm between
inhaling and exhaling.  We breathe
in order to live.  Every breath we
take and release enables us to take part in the drama of life.  Yet, some of us breathe and do not have life at all.  It might be because breathing is not
just a physical exercise but also a holistic exercise.

Early in the
Biblical narrative we find this powerful scene.

“…then the Lord
God formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the
breath of life; and the man became a living being.”

So here is the thing, we need to breathe physically in
order to live, that is for sure. 
But we also need to breathe with our whole life.  The same rhythm that dominates our
physical breathing also pulses through the other dimensions of our lives.  It happens in all areas.  Our thoughts, emotions, relationships,
souls, spirits and every other categorization that we’ve dissected lives
according to a specific cadence – it breathes.

Christian spiritual formation happens when we allow
Jesus to determine the rhythms and cadences of the totality of our lives.  Breath in the Biblical language is
purposefully multipurpose.  It
describes breath as in inhaling/exhaling, it also describes Spirit as in God’s spirit or
Holy Spirit.  The Biblical
imagination in terms of breath, air, spirit, wind is mysterious and definitely
not trapped in the Platonic dualism of flesh and spirit.

What I’m proposing is that the question, “how is your
breathing?” can become a question that links us with the completeness of our
life.  And that the rhythms of our
breathing determine the kind of life we will live.  So breathe in … and out.

Are you breathing in more than you are exhaling or are
you exhaling more than inhaling?