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Who Stared the Meme YHWH Is the Breath of God?

Have you seen the post that says that the Hebrew name for God (Yahweh) is an inhaled and an exhaled breath?

It’s a beautiful concept, but it’s wrong. To see why, check out the post Three Reasons YaHWeH Is Not the Breath of God.

The image from the original post with a line crossed through it like a no smoking sign. The original image showed flowers and leaves branching out in the shape of two lungs, as if these were the breath of God.

Let’s dig a little deeper.

Where did this post come from?

What is the real meaning behind the post?

Is it a part of Ancient Jewish teaching? Is it a modern Jewish interpretation? Neither.

Sandra Thurman Caporale wrote the original article. It’s not clear who she is other than someone from the Memorial Church of Christ in Houston. The “Ministry of Breath” website picked up her article and published it as a blog post. Somewhere along the line, it made its way onto Facebook as a meme.

Who is the Ministry of Breath? A look at their website shows us they practice and teach somethings called breathwork, which is an alternative therapy practiced by some New Age religious groups.

The Concept of Breathwork

According to the Ministry of Breath’s website, breathwork “is the ability to breathe Energy as well as air. It is the art of learning to breathe from the Breath Itself. This ability involves merging the inhale with the exhale in a gentle relaxed rhythm in an intuitive way that floods the body with Divine Energy.”

Notice the terms Energy, Breath, and Divine Energy are capitalized in the quote as if they are proper nouns. New Age religion treats these terms as a vague, universal nature-god. This divine energy is not the Hebrew Yahweh. He is not part of nature but transcendent and the creator of the natural world.

According to practitioners of breathwork, the practice may be used to treat a wide range of conditions, including:

  • depression
  • stress
  • addiction
  • post-traumatic stress disorder
  • migraine headaches
  • chronic pain
  • avoidance behaviors
  • asthma
  • premenstrual tension

Mainstream medicine does not support these claims as shown in the following quote:

Breathwork is a general term used to describe a variety of conscious breathing techniques that are used in many relaxation exercises and spiritual healing methods. Available scientific evidence does not support claims for improving health; however, breathwork may help in relaxation and stress reduction.

American Cancer Society Complete Guide to Complementary and Alternative Cancer Therapies, p. 72

YaHWeH is not Breathwork

Although breathing techniques are used in yoga, the form of breathwork practiced by this group takes it a step further in what they call rebirthing breathwork. According to their website, “Rebirthing is perhaps the most valuable self-healing ability that humans can learn. We can not have disease and relaxation in the same space at the same time. Relaxation is the ultimate healer.”

YHWH is not breathwork. The name Yahweh has special significance only in its meaning and how God announced that name, not in how you inhale and exhale when you say it. (More on the meaning of this name in an upcoming blog.)

Moses kneeling barefoot before a burning bush

The True Breath of YaHWeH

Where New Age spirituality offers you an impersonal god you can control and absorb through rituals, the God of the Bible, Yahweh, shows us a personal God who loves you so much to sacrifice for you.

Instead of controlling a life-force through breathing, God breathes life directly into us.

  • Then the LORD God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being. (Genesis 2:7)
  • As long as I have life within me, the breath of God in my nostrils. (Job 27:3)
  • So is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. (Isaiah 55:11)
  • And with that he [Jesus] breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” (John 20:22)
  • All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

In these cases, God initiates the breathing. He is in control. The breath is his, not ours. Where New Age spirituality does not require us to turn from our sin, receiving the Holy Spirit requires us to turn away from sin and surrender of ourselves to him.

YHWH is not breathwork but a God who breathes into us.

“Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many.”

Jesus, Matthew 24:4-5, NIV
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“Holotropic Breathwork: Usage, Safety, and More”Healthline. 2017-10-06. Retrieved 2022-09-12.

Ades TB, ed. (2009). “Breathwork”. American Cancer Society Complete Guide to Complementary and Alternative Cancer Therapies (2nd ed.). American Cancer Society. pp pp.72, 73

Hanegraaff, Wouter (1996). New Age Religion and Western Culture: Esotericism in the Mirror of Secular Thought. Leiden: Brill.

All quotes from the Bible are taken from the New International Version.

Published inTheology

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