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In Eastern Orthodoxy, hesychasm is a form of experiential prayer. It was defended theologically by Gregory Palamas at about three separate Hesychast Synods in Constantinople in the 1340s; it was attacked by Barlaam of Calabria[?], who advocated a more intellectual approach to prayer. Hesychasm is described in great detail in the Philokalia[?], a compilation of what various Eastern Orthodox saints wrote about prayer.

In practice, it bears some superficial resemblances to prayer or meditation in other Eastern religions. For example, it may involve specific body postures, and be accompanied by very deliberate breathing patterns. It involves acquiring an inner stillness, ignoring the physical senses. The hesychasts interpret Christ's injunction in the Gospel of Matthew to "go into your closet to pray", to mean that they should ignore sensory input and withdraw inwards to pray. It often includes many repetitions of the Jesus Prayer, "Lord Jesus Christ, son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner."


The Philokalia (four volumes)
The Way of the Pilgrim

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