My counseling clients know the routine. This is how we start our one hour conversations together. We rest our heads back in the comfy chairs. Close our eyes, drop our shoulders. Unclench our fists and lay our hands gently in our laps.
I teach these lovely hard-working ladies how to breathe in through their noses to the count of seven, hold it to the count of seven, and then blow all the air out of their lungs like air out of a balloon to the count of ten.
We do it a few times 'til she calms, stills, quiets all that churns within.
Simply put, we exhale.
And when you do this little exercise for a minute or two, you're probably going to begin to release the anxiety that's built up deep and way too strong.
Go ahead. Try it!
Breathe in, 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 7.
Hold it, 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 7.
Release it all out like air out of a balloon, 6 - 7 - 8 - 9 - 10.
This little breathing gem does wonders when you wake up in the morning before your feet hit the floor. Or at night when sleep is hard to come by. Or outside swinging high, higher, highest into the bright blue sky. And feel free to do this behind the wheel of your car ... just be sure to keep your eyes open, ok?
It's a wonderful way to begin a time of prayer. Letting all the burdens go ... and talking to our Creator, the One who formed and shaped us to breathe deep, to live anxiety-free, to celebrate a life rich and full and graced with peace.
P.S. As a pastoral counselor, I take the issue of anxiety very seriously. Christians are prone to think this is simply a spiritual issue and spend precious energy beating themselves up over this plague. Ongoing, intense anxiety has strong physical and emotional components that need to be addressed. If this is true for you, friend, I encourage you to talk with your doctor and seek help from a wise counselor.