Home > Love & Grow > Julia Trantham Heckert: Breath Practices

“Spiritual disciplines” are things we do to stay in love with God and grow in faith.  They can be things we do alone or together; they can be ways to spend time with God or to serve others.  As the people of Sylva First UMC share one of their spiritual disciplines with you each week, we hope it will inspire you to new ways of loving God and growing in faith.

For most of my life I’ve been pretty good at engaging in spiritual disciplines that appeal to my head (studying, thinking, learning) and my heart (connecting with God through prayer and connecting with others through holy friendship and service). It wasn’t until recently that came to discover the importance of just “being”, of stillness and taking a few moments to ground in this present moment.

In an Enneagram class I took this fall, I learned that change, growth, and healing can’t occur without also incorporating somatic practices that draw your awareness to your body. I have begun incorporating breath practices into my daily routine, taking a few moments before I start my day, in the car driving to work, or any time that I need a reset, to take deep, intentional breaths that calm my mind and ground me in the present. Sometimes I just listen for what my body, where the Holy Spirit already dwells, has to say to me, or sometimes I engage God in prayer.

These moments help me let go of all the things constantly swirling in my head and worrying my heart, and remember who I am, whose I am (we’re each God’s beloved!), and what purpose I’m called to each day as I make my way in the world.

Want to try it out for yourself? Here is a simple Gratitude Practice I love to do:

Close your eyes and take 3 slow, deep breaths in to quiet your mind and bring your awareness to the present moment. Keep this rhythm of slow breaths, but as you exhale, name one thing you’re grateful for. Continue until you’ve exhausted your list. Take 3 more intentional breaths as a way to journey out of your practice, perhaps wiggling your fingers and toes or opening your eyes. Journal about this experience, if you wish!

Julia is an ordained deacon in the United Methodist Church serving as the Community Engagement Coordinator for HIGHTS.