Ego Su Eimi

On Christian Meditation and Mysticism

Nathan Smith
Interfaith Now

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Many in western Europe and North America may not associate Christianity with meditation (sometimes referred to as “contemplation” in older English texts), but the former has utilized the latter for centuries in innovative ways. Akin to the Sufi practice of dhikr, Orthodox Christian monastics and ascetics have triggered the experience of hesychasm by repeated recitation of the Jesus Prayer. Similar practices have appeared in western Europe in texts such as The Cloud of Unknowing, which prescribed the repetition of single words or short phrases to effect a similar experience. Further, contemplative prayer has grown in popularity over the past few decades thanks to the work of Thomas Keating, John Main, and others.

Through the use of these techniques (setting aside whether we call them “meditation,” “contemplation,” “prayer,” etc.), regardless of one’s particular religious tradition, practitioners have triggered otherwise atypical experiences that are characterized by emotional equanimity (or decreased emotional volatility), increased awareness (or decreased dissociation), and long-term psychological flexibility (or decreased cognitive and affective rigidity). Greek Orthodox monks at Mount Athos might describe this experience as opening oneself to the divine energy that pervades all things, including our bodies; while Sufi dervishes

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Nathan Smith
Interfaith Now

Writer, therapy student, queer; interested in psychology, philosophy, literature, religion/spirituality. YouTube.com/@MindMakesThisWorld @NateSmithSNF