For many people of faith, prayer and meditation are fundamental elements of their spiritual practice. It's also common for them to experience seasons when they don't know what to pray or when their meditation feels stagnant. If you are going through something like that, breath prayers may be a way to ease back into a regular habit of communion with the divine.
The Benefits of Breath Prayers
Breath prayers are beneficial because they connect the spiritual aspect of talking to God with one of the natural rhythms of your body. Those who use this practice regularly often find that they pray more often because they can do it anywhere and at any time. It simplifies their view of prayer so that it is accessible no matter what else they are doing:
- Cleaning house
- Driving to work
- Taking a walk
Breath prayers are also easy to incorporate into meditation. Since meditative practices generally rely on a focus on breathing and how it affects the body, praying as you inhale and exhale can enhance the experience and help you focus. As you inhale, you pray the first half of the prayer, and as you exhale, you pray the other half. Repeat the prayer multiple times as you meditate, and notice the changes in your body as you relax.
How To Prepare a Prayer Space
While you can pray anywhere, some people find it useful to have a specific space set aside in their homes where they can concentrate and get the full benefit of prayer. It doesn't have to be a whole room or a large area, and it can be the same space you use for other calming activities such as reading or yoga. There are some key elements to consider when organizing it.
The most important factor is having a comfortable place to sit. Choose a chair with good support, or clear a spot for a cushion or mat. Decorate it with items that bring you peace, such as incense, candles, pillows or soft lighting. Finally, if you live with other people, make sure you can block off the space to give yourself the privacy and quiet location you need to reap the full benefits of meditation and breath prayer.
Examples of Breath Prayers
There is no single correct way to practice breath prayer. Some people use the same phrase every time, while others come up with a new mantra every time they pray. Try out different prayers to see what works best for you. Just keep the phrasing simple enough to state in one inhale-exhale cycle:
- "I breathe in peace; I breathe out suffering."
- "I accept my body as it is; I reject messages of its unworthiness."
- "I take in patience; I exude love and understanding."
If writing your own breath prayers seems overwhelming, you have other options. You can choose your favorite lines from a poem that brings you inspiration or comfort. Find a book that contains devotionals or breath prayers to help guide your practice and keep you consistent. Before you know it, you are likely to find yourself adapting what you say to whatever is going on in your life, making it more personal and meaningful to you.
Even if you have practiced your faith for decades, it is not unusual for prayer to occasionally become stale or lose meaning. Incorporating breath prayers into your daily practice can revitalize your communion with God and bring fresh perspective and meaning to it. You can find resources on how to pray simple prayers or talk to a trusted spiritual adviser about different prayer practices that may help you get back into the habit.