Learning to pray breath prayers has been one of the most helpful spiritual exercises I have encountered in recent years. I have always been drawn towards contemplative practices and I find calmness and peace in God when I pray like this. Breath prayers such as Centring Prayer are formed around the rhythmical pattern of the in-breath and out-breath. They are a common practice around the world in different cultures and the practice is most often located in the East.
It is common to have a sacred word that you feel drawn too. I use "Jesus" but have also found "Compassion" very helpful too. On the in-breath I repeat the first half of the word, completing the second half when exhaling. By slowly and gently following my breath, I prayerfully "chew" on the word. Mindfulnesss has been very helpful to me as it teaches that the distractions and wayward running around of my mind is natural, normal and nothing to be critical of. I can always re-centre myself on my breath, which comes around regularly (or so I have been reliably informed!) It is also incredibly helpful in pulling me out of negative and unhelpful ruminations that, for one easily prone to depression such as me, tend to fill my awareness, unchecked.
For me as I pray I imagine myself as having a cavern within me, a special holy place, or cradle, in which I can invite God to come by the Spirit of Jesus to dwell within. At times I sense a deep peace and presence around me. But I also get distracted and can fall asleep on occasions! What I love about this form of prayer is that it is highly portable: you can do it anywhere you are breathing!
It takes practice and a great sense of openness and yielding to the loving and gentle God revealed in Jesus with an open invitation to know him spiritually. Are you open to encounter the spirit of Jesus in the cavern of your being?
* Pioneer Ordinand, Church of England
* Parish Worker, Emmanuel Anglican Church, Woodley
* Trustee, Community Action Ark Project