Prayers of the heart

I’m so fortunate to work at such a beautiful place. Unlike my house which is a mile from the water, West Point sits on the Hudson River. Now that the weather is FINALLY on the up swing I’ve been doing my running outdoors instead of in the gym.

On the days that I alternate running I hike down by the water and what a beautiful hike it is. Typically I walk and watch the trees swaying in the wind that comes off the river, boats going by and squirrels looking for food but today I decided to sit and do my meditation/contemplation on a rock that lets the water lick it’s crest.

There is a teaching in the Orthodox church called Hesychasm. My children were encouraged during lent by our Bishop Nicholas to try to practice this type of prayer. To put away phones, ipods, gossip and do what Hesychasm means; to sit in stillness, rest and quiet as you say the Jesus prayer.

As I sat very close to the water, feeling the breeze and meditating on the wonder of God I decided this was the perfect place and time to practice my own Hesychasm. So I prayed; Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

My mind had been racing before my prayer with all the ways to fix my current circumstances and all work I had left at my desk.  As I breathed in I said the first half of the prayer and as I exhaled I said the second half. This kept my full attention and I was able to not drift away from the prayer in my mind. For those beautiful brief moments I was still and at peace.

As my mind prayed, my heart prayed. I expect as I practice this way of prayer more often I will experience the Divine. I’m looking forward to it.

“The Jesus Prayer is, first of all, a prayer addressed to God. It’s not a means of self-deifying or self-deliverance, but a counterexample to Adam’s pride, repairing the breach it produced between man and God. The aim is not to be dissolved or absorbed into nothingness or into God, or reach another state of mind, but to (re)unite with God (which by itself is a process) while remaining a distinct person”.

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