This is part two in a three part series on prayer beads. You can find the first week here: Making Mini Prayer Beads
Breathing with Prayer Beads
When I first started doing yoga under a teacher, she told us that the most important part of a yoga practice was learning to breathe. I thought that this sounded crazy. I had gotten into yoga to feel better, to get stronger, to become more flexible, and to lose weight. None of that had to do with breathing! However, several years down the road, I have found that she was right. Breathing, connecting to the Holy Spirit, is the most important part of yoga, and really has the most lasting effect on my body, mind, and spirit. This prayer bead practice will help you to connect to the breath at times and in places where it is just not feasible to roll out a yoga mat.
STEP TWO: Learning to Breathe
After my car accident, the first thing that I had to do was to learn how to breathe again. Pain had left me taking shallow, quick breaths, and I didn’t have the concentration to retrain my breathing on my own. Putting beads in my hand and putting this seemingly simple exercise into the mode of prayer or connecting to the Holy Spirit helped to ground me. It only takes about a minute and a half, and I have still found it to be a great way to prepare to pray, even after most of the effects of my accident have passed.
- First, I take the time to arrive. Most of the time, I find that my body arrives in a place before my mind or my heart. If you would like to use essential oils on your lava or wool bead, now would be the perfect time to apply them (it only takes one drop, and some oils absorb better than others).
- I sit in a comfortable position that enables me to take a deep breath. I hold the beads in both hands and take the time to notice them. What do they look like? Feel like? Smell like? Sound like? Once you have arrived and feel fully present, move to the next stage.
- I begin this stage by holding the section of beads that includes the cross and lava bead in my hand. This is a time to remember who I am addressing, or connecting to, in my prayer. I take the time to hold the cross and think about God as Son. What is it like to know that God is your brother? That he lived on this earth, and felt pain, cold, hungry, thirsty, tired? That he fully knows my human experience because he experienced it for himself?
- Next, I hold the small wooden bead above the cross and think about the Holy Spirit. How is the Holy Spirit showing up in the things of every day? What is it like to know that God is as near to me as my next breath?
- Third, I hold the lava bead and think about God as Father. What is it like to know that God is my loving parent, who made all things, and still sustains my life?
- Next, I hold the three remaining smaller beads together, and ask God as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit to be fully present, and to help me to be fully present, as I take the time to breathe.
- The next part is the intentional breathing part. I take one full, deep yoga breath for each of the next seven large beads. You can hold each bead still, or move it along the cord, or twist it in time to your breath, whatever helps you to stay fully present. This is the main part of the prayer, and takes as long as you need it to.
- When I arrive back at the smaller beads, I take some time to rest and breathe. God rested on the seventh day of creation, and calls us to rest and renew and rejuvenate, as well. I usually continue to breathe at this place until I feel done, though you might choose to do the circuit of large beads two times, four times, seven times, etc.
- I conclude by holding the section that I started with, praying the Lord’s Prayer, and concluding with “In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, Amen.” You are welcome to pray in any way that is appropriate to your tradition.
I hope that this practice of breathing with prayer beads helps you connect to the Holy Spirit in a deeper way. Peace be with you!