In one of his best books, Anchored in God: Life, Art, and Thought on the Holy Mountain of Athos, Dr. Constantine Cavarnos recorded the following conversation he had with a monk during one of his many pilgrimages to Mt. Athos. This excerpt serves as a helpful short overview of the foundation for orthopraxis, or “right-practice” (i.e., living the Orthodox Christian life):

“There are a number of important things that should be observed by those seeking spiritual development. One of these is physical and mental quiet (hesychia), made possible by living in a quiet place [or turning off the TV at home, the radio in the car, etc.], away from noise, confusion, and distractions.

Control of talking is another. Such control helps bring about inner silence, which strengthens a person spiritually, whereas unnecessary talking does the reverse.

Fasting is indispensable. It purifies the body, disciplines the soul, and helps the mind exercise inner attention.

Inner attention, observing vigilantly one’s thoughts and emotions, and opposing those that are bad or useless, is quite essential. Without it, prayer cannot be effective.

Mental prayer is most important, and should be practiced constantly. This form of prayer consists in invoking the name of Christ, saying: ‘Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy upon me.’ During such prayer one should strive to bring the mind into the heart, to unite thought with feeling.” [pp. 180-181; for more on the Jesus Prayer].

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