Monday, 8 September 2014

Simple advice from Metropolitan Anthony Bloom

"When people sought instruction (from Metropolitan Anthony) regarding the physical techniques and exercises with which the prayer is famously associated his advice was invariably: forget all you have read about techniques and just concentrate on the words. An intelligent, deep concentration was what was needed - but a concentration so hard that it would probably be impossible to sustain for more than a few invocations, at least to begin with. Not for him the recitation of hundreds or thousands of repetitions. That was something, he warned, which was only possible for the few dedicated ascetics who devoted their lives to the Jesus Prayer. The rest had to be more humble and admit their inability to keep themselves so consciously in God's presence."
From "This Holy Man: Impressions of Metropolitan Anthony" by Gillian Crow

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Jesus Prayer and Posture

The following is based on the advice of some of the Church Fathers with regard to posture from Frederica Mathewes-Green's book The Jesus Prayer (page 118):

"...the advice is to sit, gather your attention and bring it down into the heart. The tuck your chin down to your chest and, with eyes closed, direct your gaze toward your heart."

St.Gregory of Palamas (AD 1296-1359) speaks of this circular posture as helping the nous circle back into the heart, instead of scattering its attention abroad. He writes:

"Outwardly curling himself - so far as is possible - into the form of a circle, in conformity with the mode of action that he tries to establish in his intellect, he also, through this same position of his body, sends into his heart the power of the intellect that is dispersed outwardly when his gaze is turned outward."

Personally I sit down and 'look up' with eyes closed as I address the Jesus who I sense stands near me. But when I sense the prayer becoming more intense then my head drops nearer my heart. But I suspect that the Fathers would be less legalistic than insisting on whether your head is up or down and more concerned that we say/pray the Prayer and that we do so with/from our heart.