How God and the Breath Are Linked

by Joshua Tilghman on June 26, 2013

Breathing and GodBreathing and the breath in general is an important concept in esoteric practices. The question is why. Let’s start with the Bible scripture Genesis 2:7:

“And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living soul.”

In the above scripture the “breath of life” is associated with “living soul.” Scientifically we know that man needs oxygen in order for our cells to function properly. Without oxygen human cells die. But is there more to breath than simply keeping us alive? Can the breath connect us directly to God?

There are certain scriptures that seem to indicate a deeper mystery surrounding the concept of linking God to the breath. Job 33:4 refers to the “breath of life” as the “breath of the Almighty.” While mainstream religion has never associated the concept of the breath directly with God, the author of Job doesn’t take it for granted like most of us do every day.

Some esoteric circles believe that certain controlled breathing techniques—along with specific meditations and pronunciations—have the ability to induce altered states of consciousness where the observer can experience a union with God. These techniques have been closely guarded throughout the ages, but with modern technology and communications these secrets are slowly finding their way into esoteric books and internet sites. Even though I am sure most are frauds and very few of them are the real thing, I still believe it’s a subject worth pursuing further.

I recently read a book called, Kabbalah: The Way of the Jewish Mystic, by Perle Epstein. Epstein revealed that the Bible just doesn’t hint at the fact God and the breath are connected, but that the Bible actually proclaims it once the language is decoded. In one instance Epstein quotes Rabbi Simeon who said, “By learning and practicing the secrets inherit in the breath, Solomon could lift nature’s physical veil from created things and see the spirit within.” Epstein then goes on to say, “What is usually translated in Ecclesiates as “vanity” (hebli) may therefore be read esoterically as: “I have seen all things in the days of my breath, hebel.”

In other words, Epstein believes Solomon experienced mysteries beyond physical realm through controlled breathing. That sentence stopped me in my tracks. If it’s true, that’s a very important nugget of esoteric wisdom indeed. I decided to look into the Hebrew word for vanity a little further.

In Strong’s Concordance the Hebrew word “Hehbel” means emptiness. It also means transitory. But Blue Letter Bible associates Hehbel with “breath,” and “vapor.”

Isaiah 57:13 supports this conclusion as it states:

“When thou criest, let thy companies deliver thee; but the wind shall carry them away; vanity shall take them…”

The original writer of Isaiah certainly seemed to associate the Hebrew word that we translate as “vanity” with what we would also take to mean “breath.”

I also found it very interesting that Gaskell’s Dictionary of Scripture and Myth defines “breath” as:

A symbol of the mental interpretation of Spirit, or the expression of the Divine on the mental plane.

With that being said, read what Epstein continues to say on the subject of breath below:

“In some as yet undisclosed way, Rabbi Simeon taught Solomon’s technique of directing attention to the white matter of the brain while altering normal breathing patterns. Insisting that union between man and God “is best effected on earth” through the vehicle of the breath, he likened the mystery of breathing to the sacred Shema, the daily declaration of God’s unity with His Name…Visualizing the three highest attributes on the tree (Crown, Wisdom, and Understanding) as he recites the declaration, the Kabbalist makes of his own breath a channel for the divine influx.”

If we believe this is possible, then we are forced to admit that union with God happens through an altered state of consciousness. We are also forced to admit that God is not really “outside” of us as mainstream religion would have us believe. Rather, God is truly “within” us and we reach him through altering consciousness to see and experience what is possible beyond the physical world we experience every day.

I wanted to do a short blog post to point all this out before continuing with our next post on Revelations. Since our Revelation series concentrates on the power of God within the human body (the chakras, endocrine glands, and spine, etc.) the importance of breathing needed to be discussed at some point.

Some of my readers are already experienced meditators. Experienced meditators also know how important breathing is in the act of meditation. Perhaps now we can realize that the Bible has taught this all along too!

I encourage all my readers to look more closely at the breath while meditating. Obviously it’s an important part of the puzzle when going within the kingdom of God.

Blessings!

{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

John R. Wible June 29, 2013 at 7:39 am

Do you suggest other ways of reaching out to God? I am somewhat familiar with old time preachers who wheezed during the sermon, such as, “and a (the Lord said a (wheeze, &ETC.))It seems that the congregant exposed to this wheezing for several minutes will involuntarily mimic the breathing pattern.In so doing, he gets a rush of adrenaline, easily mistaken by the unaware as a “filling of the Holy Spirit” or “pneuma” the “Breath ” of God.

Controlled breathing techniques are taught in certain main stream Christian denominations as an adjunct to “centering prayer. ”

Further, was “altered consciousness” what Timothy Leary and the drug culture of the 60s seeking?

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Joshua Tilghman July 1, 2013 at 9:30 pm

John,

The wheezing you speak of isn’t what I had in mind. I don’t consider that a valid way of reaching out to God based on the description you have given. I am also unsure of what Timothy Leary was seeking after. But I do believe that humans are capable of enlightenment and abiding in a state of higher consciousness. Controlled breathing is a part of this process. You might think of Yoga to get a better understanding.

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Laurie July 3, 2013 at 8:22 am

Again, that’s what has been happening to me lately, Joshua. I could totally relate to your post. Controlled breathing seems to center me and I can let go. No longer does the mind take control, but I can then just “Be”. It’s also “feeling” the breath going in and out of you. The “Flow” of it.

Yoga is a good way to think of it, but also…The child birth breathing. This was my first experience with it. Did it take the pain away? No, but I could detach from it and not identify with it.

It’s so primal and simple. The breath of life. Something we take for granted with almost all of the breaths we take. Getting quiet and controlled breathing seems to take us back to that simple place we have forgotten.

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Joshua Tilghman July 4, 2013 at 3:31 pm

Laurie,

Thanks for putting the power of the breath into perspective. You’re right. It’s so basic but so important. Good to see your comments again. Blessings!

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anny July 13, 2013 at 9:03 am

Hi Joshua,

“And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living soul.”

This term living soul, nefesj chaia, is also applied to animals in Genesis 1 and 2. They are living souls too. I do not know exactly what that means in this context.

The breath of life, nisjmat chaia, is very clearly linked to God. The related word nesjama means spirit of divine soul.

In Strong’s Concordance the Hebrew word “Hehbel” means emptiness. It also means transitory. But Blue Letter Bible associates Hehbel with “breath,” and “vapor.” : Hehbel is also the name of Cain’s brother Abel in Hebrew. The fact that God preferred his offering over that of Cain seems to mean that breath is very important and more important than doing, being busy all the time. Neglecting breathing (meditation?) and thus killing Abel did not not bring Cain anything positive.

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Joshua Tilghman July 13, 2013 at 3:43 pm

Anny,

I love this! I didn’t know Cain’s brother’s name Abel carried this meaning. Thank you!

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anny July 14, 2013 at 7:07 am

Hi Joshua,

I thought you might like to know that. I hope you can do something with it too.

Over time I have discovered that all names in the bible mean something, and I mean in the context of that particular bible message. And that this meaning is carried over when it is used again in another story. For instance Jesus’ parents names are Mary (Mirjam) and Joseph and also the people who take care of his grave and funeral (preparations for the resurrection and the emergence of the Christ) are called Joseph and Mary, more Mary’s in this case. That must mean something.

I also discovered that the names in the story of the Passion (Gethsemane, Golgotha a.o.) already tell the story. So I believe that all names in the bible have their story although I do not know what that story is in most cases.

In relation to this I would like to ask you: do you know what the meaning is of the names of these seven churches and what, if anything, that adds to the meaning of these revelations? I know that Philadelphia might mean something like love of brotherhood if I remember my Greek correctly but what does it have to add in this instance?

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Laurie July 14, 2013 at 7:22 am

Very Interesting, Anny, with the Name of Abel and Breath.

I’m just going to throw something out there. Ever notice that when people are uptight, angry, anxious, fearful, etc… Their breath changes. The way they breath changes. It’s an imbalance in the bodies reaction to what they are thinking and dwelling on. It does effect their body and how they are breathing. We can use ourselves for our own examples and times we have felt like that in our lives. Now, let’s take it a step further…How are breathing is when we are peaceful and content. It’s totally different.

I have no idea where this is going, I’m just throwing it out there.

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Justin September 12, 2013 at 4:57 pm

This is an interesting point Laurie. A common teaching of dealing with anger is to slow your breathing and count to 10 slowly. This causes the “watcher” in all of us to see how the ego is reacting to a situation and alter its course (even crucify it at that moment).

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Laurie July 14, 2013 at 7:31 am

I have come to see that a sacrifice or offering never really is the literal “Thing”. The Church has gotten caught up in taking everything literally and focusing on the “Literal”. A Sacrifice and offering always seems to be the “Ego” in a person’s life. The act of a literal offering or sacrifice seems to just be a physical way to demonstrate this.

So…. Back to “Breath”. (just throwing some thoughts out here) Abel’s name meaning. Breath.

Breath would be a state of being, wouldn’t it?

As I noticed in my post before this one…Breath changes with our bodies reaction.

What was Cain’s breath like? With all the Turmoil, it wouldn’t be anything like Abel’s.

Just thinking “Out loud”, here. 😉

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Laurie July 14, 2013 at 7:46 am

Forgive me for my Typos.

One more “thought” and then I will stop. Sighing. Sighing is abnormal breathing or breath. When does a person “Sigh”? It’s always with discontent, isn’t it? It’s also subconsciously. Meaning the person who is doing it isn’t doing it on purpose. So, it would be a reaction to their state of “Being”, wouldn’t it?

I guess I’m just realizing that “Breath” is a lot deeper then just breathing (no pun intended). It is connected to our state of “Being”, isn’t it? I never truly realized how the breath changes depending on if we are connected with our Source or the Ego.

I’ve really enjoyed this post and the comments. It has given me great food for thought! Thank you!

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Laurie July 14, 2013 at 9:58 am

Yeah, I said that I only had one more thought! lol

So, Controlled breathing would be a way to calm yourself down and get in touch with your true “being”, wouldn’t it?

When people are upset we usually say “Calm down and take a deep breath”. Maybe it’s not just a phrase.

The Breath might just be a “Key”. A way to get centered and come back to the Source. Not just at a time of imbalance, but a time to get quiet and meditate.

Which came first, the chicken or the Egg? Does controlled breathing actually take you to an altered state of Consciousness? Or is it just a more “Conscious” state without the Ego? Maybe it’s just a difference in the definition of terms.

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anny July 14, 2013 at 10:32 am

Hello Laurie,

You give us a whole lot of things to think about with your comments on the importance of the breath! I agree with you.

If we look at Cain as a person, then his way of breathing must have been way different from Abel’s but if we look at them as two different sides in man (who just entered duality) then it looks as if Cain killing Abel means more or less committing suicide, as it means stopping to breathe. And taking that symbolically again it shows the fall of man (into matter) by silencing his divine spirit, as breath and divine spirit are very closely linked. It means that the ego side, which is Cain, gets complete control and man incarnates into a material body. This material body is ‘or’ in Hebrew, written with the characters 70-6-200, which you can also read as ‘iwer’ and that means blind. It means that man’s third eye has closed and he has finally entered the illusion or dream of the material world, so it all fits.

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Laurie July 14, 2013 at 11:52 am

🙂 Yes! It really does all fit. Thank you, Anny!

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sheila July 31, 2013 at 7:00 am

Wow!!! I thoroughly love this discussion…I have been learning how to meditate but I do not want to dwell into the New Age stuff…this discussion has strong biblical support
Thank you soooh much.

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Joshua Tilghman July 31, 2013 at 5:08 pm

Shelia,

You’re very welcome. I know New Age can sound scary, especially to Christians because the language can seem so blasphemous. But don’t close your mind too much at this point. New Age is actually a bringing back of some of the understandings of the Earliest Christians. However I don’t subscribe to some of the ideas floating around in New Age material. Thanks for commenting.

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Lloyd Caulker November 21, 2013 at 1:42 am

Great Article, I wanted to share someting with you. The importance of breathing is displayed through our words. This is why John started the Gospel with in the begining was the Word. God revealed to me that i must be one with Christ which is the Word of God. If we’re continuously breathing out Christ then the tongue unifies that body with the soul. Solomon said that life and death is in the power of the tongue. The tongue is the cord that can tie us to life or death. This is why most of the wise men were focused on the tongue and the words we speak. We’re supposed to be one breath with the Father and Son(Christ) without ceasing breathing only His Words

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Joshua Tilghman November 22, 2013 at 8:08 am

Lloyd,

Thanks for commenting. It’s interesting that you bring this point up. The tongue, when raised and touched to the roof of the mouth, acts as a channel for kundalini to circulate in the body.

And yes, the power of life and death is truly in the tongue.

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Lloyd Caulker November 22, 2013 at 11:05 am

Origin: Sanskrit kuṇḍalinī, from feminine of kuṇḍalin circular, coiled, from kuṇḍala ring.

kun·da·li·ni\ˌku̇n-də-ˈlē-nē, ˌkən-\
noun
Usage: often capitalized
: the yogic life force that is held to lie coiled at the base of the spine until it is aroused and sent to the head to trigger enlightenment

The origin from the word yogic
Origin: Sanskrit, literally, yoking, from yunakti he yokes; akin to Latin jungere to join — more at yoke.
First use: 1820

“Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am meek and humble in heart, and you shall find rest for your beings. “For My yoke is gentle and My burden is light.” (Matthew 11:29, 30 ISR98)

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tony April 8, 2014 at 8:20 am

thanks brother,you really opened my eyes today.

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