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Breath Prayer: An Ancient Practice for the Everyday Sacred

Author: Christine Valters Paintner, PhD, REACE, OBLSB
Broadleaf Books
Publication date:
October 12, 2021


Named one of the best spiritual books of 2021 by Spirituality & Practice!

Whether reciting the gathas in Buddhist practice, the Shema in Judaism, or the Jesus Prayer in Christianity, for centuries the practice of breath prayer has helped center people from a variety of faith traditions on the sacred in everyday life. Through brief words of prayer or petition said silently to the rhythm of one’s breath, this simple, meditative act combines praise for the divine with focused intention, creating a profound spiritual connection in the quiet, and even mundane, moments of the day.

In Breath Prayer, Christine Valters Paintner, online abbess of Abbey of the Arts, introduces us to this spiritual practice and offers beautiful poem-prayers for walking, working, dressing, cleaning, sitting in silence, doing the dishes, living in community–breathing the divine into our daily lives. Over time these recitations become as natural as breathing. We don’t so much recite the prayers as the prayers recite us, guide us, and open our hearts to the everyday sacred.

With each of the forty prayers, Paintner includes reflections on life’s ordinary beauty and heartfelt advice for discovering the sacred all around. Breath Prayer concludes with guidance for creating your own breath prayers to deepen your practice.

To hear Christine speak more about the ancient practice of breath prayer, listen to the Ruah Space podcast and the Presence and Practice podcast

Praise for the Book

Breath prayer — harmonizing the sacred rhythm of the body with words that sing to the soul — is a practice both ancient and universal, but often overlooked in today's busy world. Christine Valters Paintner has blessed us with a warm and insightful guide to reclaiming this practice of the heart, in every moment and setting of the day.
Carl McColman
Author of Eternal Heart and The Big Book of Christian Mysticism
Christine Valters Paintner has long been a strong presence in the landscape of contemplation, prayer, and silence. Breath Prayer is an invitation to the sacred intimacy of breath prayer, welcoming us to the grace and stillness available in the here and now. Slowing down, we learn to savor the living moment, drinking deeply from it, we become a healing presence in our own life and those of others. Such is the gift of this book.
Christine Valters Paintner is one of the most profound and prolific spiritual writers of our time. In this lovely book, she invites us into the ancient, but ever new, practice of breath prayer – and links it to breathing in the sacredness of the holy ordinary of our daily lives and the seasons of our lives. What a blessing this book is.
J. Brent Bill
Author of Holy Silence and Sacred Compass
One of the hidden gifts of this age of pandemic and the liminal landscape into which it has driven us is a kind of enforced monastic space, a great pause in which we, as a human family, have recalibrated and reclaimed our deepest and highest values: lovingkindness, a commitment to justice for all beings and for the earth, a willingness to cultivate a sabbath and resacralize simple beingness. This book is one of the sweet and nourishing fruits of this sacred pause. Its potency will reverberate far beyond current circumstances, rooting and steadying us as we set about co-creating a new world.
Mirabai Starr
Author of God of Love and Wild Mercy

A book of recipe ingredients and directions for making life rich with everyday sacredness.

Read the full review.

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