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Monk in the World Prayer Cycle: Day 2 - Morning Prayer
Monk in the World Prayer Cycle: Day 2 - Evening Prayer
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A Love Note from Your Online Abbess

Dearest monks, artists, and pilgrims,
 
We continue our exploration of the Monk in the World Prayer Cycle Video Podcasts with morning and evening prayer for Day 2: Hospitality. Hospitality invites us to welcome the stranger both within and without. The ancient practice of breath prayer is a lovely way to engage with the principle of hospitality. The reflection below comes from my new book Breath Prayer: An Ancient Practice for the Everyday Sacred to be released in the US and Canada on Oct 12th. 
 
I surrender the ache, 
and the worry.
Breathe in stillness,
breathe out anxiety. 
 
Monks used to awaken in the middle of the night intentionally to pray Vigils. Some of the stricter monastic orders, like Trappist, still do. It is a way of consecrating all the Hours of the day, including the dark of the night. 
 
If our sleep patterns get disrupted and we awaken sometime in those early hours before the sun rises, we might consider joining those monks in our imaginations. Rather than get hooked into the anxiety of our churning thoughts, this opening to the night can be an opportunity to savor stillness, to rest into the unknown, to breathe love out to a hurting world, to bathe our communities in prayers for peace, and to allow our breathing to soften our hold on things so that we might slowly release ourselves back into slumber. 
 
I know for myself the worst anxiety can come when I have to be somewhere the next day, perhaps teaching in the morning, and I start to worry whether I will get enough rest. This worry, of course interferes with the possibility of going back to sleep and can become a vicious cycle. 
 
Sometimes I sit up and read for a while or write down what my mind is grasping for. But mostly breath and prayer are the balm that help to calm and soothe me. They help to sanctify these moments when I would prefer to be asleep. They become opportunities for prayer and connection with Source. I see myself joining with monks around the world awake at that very same moment offering their prayers of praise and gratitude. 
 
Breathe in: I surrender the ache, 
Breathe out: and the worry.
Breathe in: Breathe in stillness, 
Breathe out: breathe out anxiety. 
 
Similar to the breath prayer at bedtime, this breath prayer is about allowing our body to surrender and yield, to release anxiety and worry as much as possible, and let the darkness comfort and hold us for a while. This time of night wakefulness can be a practice in learning to appreciate mystery. So much of the anxiety arises from the parts of ourselves that want to plan and control and know the outcome of things. Of course, none of us knows these things and life is largely out of our control, especially with the larger events we experience. 
 
In the first part of the breath prayer, see if you can physically allow your body to surrender anything it is holding onto. Sometimes taking an extra deep breath and letting it out with a long sigh can really help with this release. 
 
In the second part of the breath prayer, notice what breathing in stillness and breathing out anxiety feel like for you. See what colors or sensations are present. If it is helpful to pray with images, visualize your inhale drawing in this gift of stillness. Visualize your exhale letting go of any anxiety or worry. 
 
In his poem “Sweet Darkness,” David Whyte writes “The night will give you a horizon / further than you can see.” Many of us aren’t used to spending time with ourselves and when we slow down and let go of the many possible distractions we are left with our mind’s churning. Breath prayer helps us to ease the racing thoughts by giving our mind another focus and direction. We can bring an intention of restfulness and release to our nighttime hours though this practice. The words give us an intention so we might find more ease in these middle-of-the-night awakenings. 
 
I also have an article on breath prayer published in US Catholic. Join us for the virtual Breath Prayer book launch on Monday, October 25th. 

With great and growing love,

Christine 

Christine Valters Paintner, PhD, REACE

Upcoming Programs: Please join us! 


Friday, October 22nd: Native Book Club Community Conversation with Christine Valters Paintner and Claudia Love Mair 

Monday, October 25thBreath Prayer Virtual Book Launch! With Christine Valters Paintner, Simon de Voil, and Jamie Marich

Wednesday, October 27th Yoga with Melinda – Samhain

Saturday, October 30thWriting with the Ancestors with Christine Valters Paintner 

Monday, November 1stContemplative Prayer Service: Honoring Ancestors with Christine Valters Paintner and Simon de Voil

Saturday, November 6thSufi Mystical Poetry with Imam Jahmal Rahman
See our calendar for full listings

Dancing Monk Icon Cards – New larger sets available!


Each set of the Dancing Monk Icon Cards features 32 full-color depictions of beloved saints and mystics through the ages by artist Marcy Hall of Rabbit Room Arts. From Hildegard of Bingen and Francis of Assisi to Celtic saints like Brigid of Kildare and Patrick of Armagh, as well as more modern figures such as Howard Thurman and Rainer Maria Rilke, the images are delightful windows into the spark of creative joy elicited by each holy man or woman. The set includes a booklet with a brief reflection on each person and one or two questions for personal reflection. Comes in a custom box to store away. Perfect for keeping in your prayer corner, bringing on retreat, or giving as a gift. The cards are 3.5 x 5.75 inches in size.
Order Icon Cards

Monk in the World Guest Post: Kate Kennington Steer

I am delighted to share another beautiful submission to the Monk in the World guest post series from the community. Read on for Kate Kennington Steer’s reflection on the richness of photography within a contemplative cell. 

As a contemplative photographer I thought I knew quite a bit about light and brightness, shadow and darkness.  It appears I was wrong.  During 2020 and 2021 a series of COVID-19 ‘Lockdowns’ have been offering me a unique opportunity to maintain a watch on the seasonal cycles of light across my bedroom walls.  I have wanted to do this ever since, back in 2013-4, our online Abbess Christine [Valters-Paintner] introduced me to the Celtic rituals surrounding the ‘cross-quarter days’ which divide the weeks between the seasonal equinoxes and solstices. And so, from Beltaine 2020 (1 May) to Beltaine 2021, I have watched and marked, photographed and written about how light changes what and how I see; how watching light changes the light in me.

Read the rest of Kate's reflection

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Monk in the World 8-Week Online Retreat
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