Breathe, Stretch…Meditate?

Every single time I run I feel a tightness in my left hamstring.  And every single time I have the exact same thought: I really need to be better about regular stretching.  But do I ever stretch?  Nope.  This singular thought has yet to result in action.

At this same time in my life, I’ve also been contemplating the need to slow down and really take in the message of what I’m reading- especially when it comes to rich theological books.  In my excitement for reading, I have a tendency to focus on getting through material quickly so that I can get to the rest of the books on my ever-growing “to read” list.  And while I’ve gained so much from reading, both in terms of knowledge and personal spiritual growth, I know I could benefit even more from slowing my pace- especially when it comes to reading Scripture.    

I love reading God’s Word and over the years I’ve developed some solid reading/studying habits.  But I don’t know that I have intentionally meditated on the Word.  In fact, and this is a bit vulnerable, I’m not sure that I know how.  To that end I’ve been reading articles on this topic, learning what biblical meditation means and practical ways to do it.  In the past I’ve also shied away from meditation because of its new age connotation and association with yoga.  Which, speaking of, is the last piece of this puzzle I’ve been crafting.       

Several years ago I began attending a yoga class at my local ymca.  The instructor is a wonderful Christian woman whom I’ve known for a long time and there was much about the experience that I enjoyed.  Namely, increased flexibility and muscle stability, and the overall feeling of relaxation.  However, over the last few years, I’ve learned more about the practice and origin of yoga and have come to the conviction that it’s not something I personally wish to continue.  Yet, per my earlier statement, I do need more stretching and physical flexibility in my life!       

Because I love efficiency and making the most of my time, I wondered what it would be like to combine Scripture meditation with stretching and breathing.  So on a random Thursday morning I brought myself and my Bible to the middle of my living room floor.  Stretching my arms overhead I took a deep breath and reached for my toes.  Holding the stretch I read John 5:24, the verse we were challenged to memorize at our Wednesday night Bible study.  I repeated this process with a few other standing stretches before taking a seat on the ground. 

Moving through a variety of lower-body stretches I continued to take deep breaths, reading the verse repeatedly.  I then closed my eyes and repeated the verse in my mind.  During this time of stretching, breathing, and reading, I began to pray, asking God to imprint His Word on my heart.  As I meditated on the meaning of the verse, the last sentence began to stand out: “He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.”  Has passed from death to life. This is the present tense!  I was one way but am now another.

While continuing some tried and true running stretches, I breathed deeply as other verses about death and life came to mind.  You were darkness (Ephesians 5:8).  Death. Darkness. Judgment.  But what am I now?  I am alive, light, and an heir with Christ!  Moving to my knees, I read verses from Colossians, Ephesians, and 1 Peter- all which proclaim the richness of new life in Christ, who is himself the light and life of men (John 1:4).  I praised God for His most glorious salvation, for the security of eternal life in the future, and for abundant life in Christ now. Rising to my feet, I knew this was the beginning of something new and needed. 

As I’ve reflected on my time in the living room, it’s occurred to me that Scripture speaks about each of these components.  It’s good to care for our physical bodies, as they are part of God’s good creation (Genesis 1:31, 1 Timothy 4:8).  Physical activity and stretching are great ways to demonstrate this care!  Additionally, at creation God breathed the breath of life into Adam, giving him a spirit as well as literal breath.  Our respiratory systems are wonderfully made and taking time to pay attention to our breath is an awe-inspiring practice!  Finally, throughout Scripture we are commanded to meditate on God’s Word so that we will rejoice in Him and walk in the way of righteousness (Joshua 1:8, Psalm 1:2, Psalm 104:34, Psalm 119:15, 97). 

As I conclude, I encourage you (along with myself!) to begin a regular routine of stretching, breathing, and Scripture meditation.  The following steps are a  great way to start: 

  1. With your Bible in hand, pick a quiet/peaceful place 
  2. Pick a verse or short portion of Scripture on which to meditate  
  3. Take long, slow deep breaths as you slowly move through various stretches
  4.  Read the designated verse/passage of Scripture as you stretch  
  5. After reading the verse/passage of Scripture several times, close your eyes, breath, and repeat the verse in your head (or aloud) as you continue to stretch  
  6. Pray, asking God to illuminate His Word through the power of the Holy Spirit 

Published by Nicole Byrum

Hello! I have been a therapist in the community mental health field for the last 13 years. During this time I have worked with numerous women in recovery from substance abuse. It was this work, along with my relationship with Jesus, that inspired me to write my first book, Remade: Living Free. I have found writing to be a joy and it is my aim through this website to continue to share my faith, insights, and hope with my readers. Some fun facts about me: I have been married for 15 years and have 2 children; I love to read, run and cook; Even though I have lived in Ohio for most of my life I am not a fan of cold weather!

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