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Entering Silence Through Breath Prayer ~ A Love Note from Your Online Abbess

Blessing for Silence and Solitude*

Holy Source of Silence,
beneath the clatter and din of the everyday
you offer your mysteries to our hearts.
You call us to pause,
to slow down and listen to the true longing
planted in each of us by you, a seed of holy desire.
Support us in letting go of the inner and outer noise.
Open wide in us a sacred cave for stillness
where we can attune to your presence.
Enliven us with the gift of your sweet music
and allow us to encounter your holy presence
flaming in each of our hearts.
Help us to catch a note of your song
in the wind or in the voice of another,
in times of sadness, and in the rush of our lives.
In a world so filled with distraction,
we listen for your whispers
which call us to another way of being.
and ask for the courage to respond to all
we discover in this tabernacle of silence.

Dearest monks and artists,

I know many of you feel called to rest into silence in the midst of a life that can be so full of noise. Breath prayer is a beautiful and simple practice that can help us to drop into stillness wherever we are. We pause, we breathe, we let the words dance with our inhale and exhale, we rest for a few moments into the space carved out in us by prayer. 

Here is an excerpt from my Breath Prayer book to help you deepen into this simple but profound practice: 

Quieting Myself to Hear My Heart

I breathe in peace,
I breathe out love.

We begin just sitting quietly, savoring a few moments of stillness in our day. This might be first thing in the morning or at the end of day. Choose a time when you won’t be interrupted for ten minutes. 

This time of quiet is to simply practice aligning your prayer with your breathing. It gives time and space to become acquainted with this type of prayer. It offers the chance to slow down and discover the gifts that come when we cultivate an inner and outer silence and direct our attention to the Source of all peace and all love. Once we become rooted in this rhythm of praying we will be able to draw on it more naturally as we are engaged in our daily activities. 

When we pray with the rhythm of the breath it provides us an anchor in the midst of whatever we are doing. Breath is our constant companion, as is our heartbeat, and these gentle risings and fallings offer us the gift of a kind of scaffolding for our prayers. 

The words simply give us direction for our attention. In the ancient traditions, often lines from scripture were used or other traditional prayers. The words are less important than the intention behind them, but still language can offer us imagery that guides our distracted minds towards a particular place. In the case of prayer, this place is toward the sacred presence beating in the heart of the world. 

As you inhale, you whisper to yourself: I breathe in peace.

You might add an element of visualization to this as well. Perhaps images are a more potent form of prayer for you, in which case, as you breathe in, see yourself drawing in the gift of peace into your body. Notice what color it is or texture. Pay attention to your body’s response as it fills you. 

As you exhale, you say softly: I breathe out love

Imagine inviting love to fill the world with each out-breath, see it filling every crack and corner. Again, notice any colors or textures. How does your body respond knowing love is being sent out to the world?

Sometimes words are the gateway to prayer for us, but sometimes words inspire visual or somatic responses, which are also part of the act of praying. Some of us are more verbal in our prayers, while some draw on the other senses to connect with the divine. 

It is vital that we pause to pray in this way even when we don’t feel like it. Perhaps our day has been especially not peaceful or loving. Maybe it felt filled with strife – conflict with loved ones or co-workers, or perhaps a sense of overwhelm at the suffering of the world, or maybe just a sense of un-ease and anxiety over so many unknowns. It is in these moments that we pause and remember the root of our root. We connect back to Source. We stop what we are doing to reconnect to the foundation of the world and of our lives. We act as if until we might experience just a small taste of the peace and love we seek. 

How does connecting with intention to the gifts of peace and love impact your way of being in the world? 

To deepen into the practice of Breath Prayer you can purchase a copy of my book and avail of the self-study retreat at a discount this month. (Coupon code is BREATHPRAYER20.) 

Please join Simon de Voil and me tomorrow for our monthly Contemplative Prayer Service! We are delighted to be joined by fellow Wisdom Council member Richard Bruxvoort-Colligan. Our theme this month is Psalms in the Wilderness. During this season of Lent as we travel through the desert together, the Psalms can offer us a touchstone. Simon and Richard both have a profound love of the psalms and it will be a beautiful experience to share together. It is always a soulful time of connecting in community. We will enter the place of deep stillness together. 

With great and growing love,


Christine Valters Paintner, PhD, REACE

*Blessing for Silence and Solitude is by Christine Valters Paintner and is part of the Monk in the World prayer cycle (Day 1)

Image © Christine Valters Paintner

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