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Taking a deep breath this New Year

When Martyn first came up with our strapline Breathe deeply, Rest quietly, Think clearly, I never realised how significant this would become to Treargel. A few weeks ago one of our guests in the Hermitage even said

'time seems to move slower here, which is just what I needed'.

January is a great time to slow down, retreat, and reset.

Here are some ideas from our recent Breathing Deeply Quiet Day at Treargel.

Breathing is good for you, obviously

I am learning that, not only is breathing more deeply good for your soul, it can help bring down high cortisol levels produced by stressful situations. For example during difficult meetings, hot flushes or when you lose the dog in a field of sheep. Again. Neo!!

Neo, our golden retriever on the south west coastal path.
Neo eyeing the sheep

Interestingly, in Sanscrit, the word for breath or respiration is prāṇa (प्राण) which means the breath of life, vital air and principle of life. It literally is life and death for us.

I wonder what breathing deeply looks like for you in your life? Sometimes I need to consciously stop myself and note my breathing. When the emails, To-Do lists, and expectations get too much. Below are some ways to do breathing exercises and conscious breathing for anyone who wants to practise taking time to sit with the unknown, be and just breathe. Great to do before the year gets busy again. For another great explanation of Mindfulness of Breathing, try this video by one of our Hermitage guests who works at the London Buddhist Centre. (She also sang a beautiful Tibetan chant for my birthday last year).

Some from the Christian tradition may also want to recall that the Hebrew name for God YAH WEH, sounds like a breath, life-giving and flowing through you. Below Richard Rohr and Rob Bell explain more.

Shallow breathing

I don’t always keep calm and breathe in the way that I want. What stops you from breathing deeply? Why not say ‘Hello’ to some of these things? Acknowledge them, as Padraig O'Tuama does, and don’t dwell on them. Let them go. Although, in our Quiet Day discussion we realised that sometimes, in order to let go, we needed to let someone down; others, ourselves, or God. Note how you feel about this.

S**t happens or The circle of life

I also find that circumstances and life aren’t always conducive to breathing in a measured manner. A lot of people have been sick this Christmas, electricity bills are not an easy read and don't get me started on the News. And yet, these are the natural ups and downs of life. We have to pick ourselves up and go again. Like inhaling and exhaling, each a mini dying and living again. The circle of life. You might like to chew for a while on one of the phrases I gave our guests.

  • ‘Every breath is give and take’. Gungor lyrics

  • The circle of life. Lion King lyrics

  • Life in all its abundance. John 10 v 10

  • C’est la vie.

  • A grain of wheat has to die and then ... John 12 v 24

  • Life - death - resurrection = continual transformation.

  • “I love stories of resurrection, because I am someone who is desperate for second chances”. Nadia Bolz-Weber

Take time out

If doing these things at home just isn't enough, come to Treargel and take a retreat with us in the peace and beauty of Cornwall.

Book now for 2022 prices, as sadly these will go up from early January.


At Treargel we try to practice breathing deeply in our Weekly Meditation. Each Monday I sit with my neighbour and any guests that wish to join us, for half an hour's silence together. You too can join our group virtually via email or facebook, as I send out the prompt for our Silence in the morning.

We have a Quiet Day coming up on Tuesday 17th January titled Refuge and Sanctuary and another one on March 16th title tbc.

Plus, a day for remembering someone close in our Planting Memories day Wednesday 8th February. Please let me know if you are interested in any of these events.

Naomi's dad carrying heavy loads on a yoke he carved.
All yoked up

Treargel Workparty

Alternatively, have a party with us, whilst also doing some gardening and practical jobs; for example, simple painting, weeding or pruning.

Free accommodation. Only a couple of places left, so book now. 25th - 28th March.

In Conclusion

It may just be me, but this year I feel I need to take a deep breath in order to face this New Year.

Perhaps I need to put into practice some of these tools myself.


Extra Resources

The YHWH Prayer from Richard Rohr

A rabbi taught this prayer to me many years ago. The Jews did not speak God’s name, but breathed it with an open mouth and throat: inhale—Yah; exhale—weh. By our very breathing we are speaking the name of God and participating in God’s breath. This is our first and our last word as we enter and leave the world.

Breathe the syllables with open mouth and lips, relaxed tongue: