Sit with your back straight.
Place the tip of your tongue against the ridge tissue just behind your upper front teeth, and keep it there through the entire next steps.
Exhale throughout your mouth around your tongue; try pursing your lips lightly if this seems awkward.
- Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound
- Close your mouth and inhale quietly through your nose to a mental count of 4
- Hold your breath for a count of 7
- Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound to a count of 8
- This is one complete breath. Inhale again and repeat the cycle three more times for a total of four breaths.
Assess how you feel…
Now at this point you’re probably wondering what is going on. You may be asking yourself questions such as “what is this girls’ newsletter even about?” or “what kind of crazy things is she doing in Mission Year?” Well hopefully this little exercise was a good way to calm your nervous system and keep you intrigued into reading on.
What you just partook in was a breath relaxation exercise that many people use as a tool to achieve general relaxation and manage stress. This may not be something you’re familiar (or comfortable) with and it sure was weird for me at the beginning, but during my Mission Year training, breathing was a large focus in helping to care for our souls. Since training I have found myself doing similar exercises, taking deep breathes, and taking notice of my breathing a lot throughout these last three exhausting weeks of training and transition.
City life for me is exciting and exhilarating and holds lots of great experiences and opportunities, but is also incredibly draining. Recently I’ve been feeling rather claustrophobic. Philly row homes are great and all, but it’s a whole lotta people packed into not a whole lotta space (plus sharing a home with 7 grown adults already isn’t the roomiest situation). *Fun fact: Philly is the 9th most densely populated US metropolitan area.
I appreciated the breathing exercises brought to my attention in training because they not only gave me practical resources to implement, but allowed me to be more mindful of my body, act rather than react, take a break from constant autopilot mode, create space in the cramped atmosphere, and be more attentive to the ways in which God is present and working through me during this new season of life.
I rarely taken notice of the thousands of breaths our lungs take every day; the very thing that keeps us alive and functioning. Likewise, I find myself getting caught up in the hustle and bustle of life that I forget to take notice of the ways in which God is constantly present in my life. One of the biggest ways in which God has been present in my life has been through connecting with our church Broad Street Ministry located in Center City. Not only is the building stunning, but the people within it and the radical hospitality they’ve extended to us has been so warming and welcoming. Their affirming and love centered community is refreshing and something I look forward to continuing to be a part of throughout the rest of the year.
Recognizing my breathing has allowed me to calm anxieties and center myself on why I am here in order to not get caught up in my uncontrollable worries. It’s also allowed me to appreciate my body and take note of the complexities God created us with. He literally breathed the breath of life into us (Genesis 2:7)! So cool right!
I encourage you to look more into breathing exercises and begin to implement them in your life as a way to create mindfulness, calm your soul, and bring awareness to your body as well as the ways in which God is present and working within your life.
More information about the breathing exercise can be found here.
Maddie Eiler is a current team member in Philadelphia. She is eager to combine her faith and passion for justice in a community of other young folks excited to do the same. Support her by visiting her donation page!