Last updated: December 21, 2023

What Does Hesychasm Mean?

Hesychasm is a mystical form of contemplative prayer that is part of the traditional teachings of the Eastern Orthodox Church. It is based on the instruction of Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew to “enter into thy closet” during prayer, and as such it is the process of turning attention inwards and away from the senses in order to achieve experiential knowledge of God.

Some have noted the similarities between the teachings and practice of hesychasm and the yogic teachings that encourage introspection and withdrawal of the senses in order to find union with the Divine.


Yogapedia Explains Hesychasm

The word hesychasm comes from the Greek word Hesychia, which means “to keep stillness.” This stillness is acquired through both the intense inner focus and the blocking of external stimulation.

Some teachings advise practitioners to focus on the middle of their body during prayer and also to connect their prayer to their breathing.

Pope John Paul II defined hesychasm as a practice of prayer that is marked by the deepest tranquillity of spirit. During hesychasm, the name of Jesus is invoked in order to keep the spirit intent on an unceasing contemplation of God. Through this, the devotee can find union with God in a profound grace known as theosis.

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