Apr. 15, 2019.
When I breathe in, I breathe in peace.
When I breathe out, I breathe out love.
Hymn #1009 “Meditation on Breathing.”
Some days I sit in my office at UUCF and watch the emails stack up in my inbox and I think, just breathe David, just breathe. This continues if I go on Facebook, or look at the news or think about all the information going in and out of my head on a minute-by-minute basis. The rate of information in this world is dizzying and sometimes it is important for us just to stop and breathe in and breathe out.
I was thinking about how different the flow of life and information must be from the early days of this congregation in the 1950s. There was no Thursday congregational email, no Facebook page, no website. There were no cell phones, texting or cable TV. Even copiers weren’t commercially available until the late 1950s. The rate of change and the flow of information about programs or activities were completely different both in pace and methods of delivery.
As things are now – the rate of change, the flow of information and our capacity to hold it at any given point on any given day – can certainly be a challenge.
There are lots of “experts” who will tell you a lot more than I can about how to cope with all of this, but here is one simple suggestion: Breathe. And yes, in some ways I mean that metaphorically and in other ways I mean it physically. In an article titled, “Relaxation Techniques: Breath Control Helps Quell Errant Stress Response,” folks from Harvard Medical School talk about the benefits of deep breathing: “Breath focus is a common feature of several techniques that evoke the relaxation response. The first step is learning to breathe deeply. Deep breathing also goes by the names of diaphragmatic breathing, abdominal breathing, belly breathing and paced respiration. When you breathe deeply, the air coming in through your nose fully fills your lungs, and the lower belly rises.” It goes on to say, “Deep abdominal breathing encourages full oxygen exchange – that is, the beneficial trade of incoming oxygen for outgoing carbon dioxide. Not surprisingly, it can slow the heartbeat and lower or stabilize blood pressure.”
We all need to take a little time from the endless stream of data that gets input to our personal computers. Go for a walk, notice our surroundings, enjoy the newfound buds of spring. Read a poem. Sit quietly. Sip a nice cup of tea on a cool day.
Yes, the pace of things has changed and is probably only going to increase as enabled by technology. Thankfully, in addition to breathing, there is one thing we can still control when it comes to all of our electronic gadgets: We still control the on/off switch.