They may have felt — as many modern Orthodox teachers certainly feel — that instruction on such techniques is best communicated orally, rather than being committed to writing; an experienced spiritual guide in direct contact with his or her disciples can warn them against dangers which may not be apparent to the readers of a book.
On the other hand the words of Klimakos, Hesychios and Philotheos may well be no more than metaphorical.
What was later to become a central point in the physical technique of the hesychasts is plainly affirmed: Jesus is to be invoked with every breath.
It is necessary to wait for several centuries before anything as explicit as this is encountered in the Greek sources.
Palamas seems to accept the ascription of this work to Symeon, but it is today generally agreed that the New Theologian cannot be the true author.
Looking at the origins of hesychasm and the teachings of figures such as St Gregory Palamas, St Gregory of Sinai and Nikiphoros the Hesychast, Metropolitan Kallistos addresses the question: is the Jesus Prayer an essential and authentically Christian practice, or is it unnecessary and perhaps even harmful? For we are living in an age when, alike in philosophy, in physics and in psychology, it is proving less and less helpful to posit a dichotomy between spirit and matter, between soul and body. In reality a body-soul division of a Platonic type has no place within Christian tradition. One of the most thoroughgoing attempts in the history of Christian spirituality to ascribe a positive and dynamic role to the body during prayer was made by the fourteenth-century hesychasts.
This practice came to be known as ‘monologic prayer’, prayer of a single The real beginnings of a distinctive spirituality of the Holy Name come only with St Diadochos of Photiki (second half of the fifth century), who speaks regularly of the ‘remembrance' or ‘invocation’ of Jesus.
This invocation eliminates distractions, empties the mind of images, and so helps us to attain an inner stillness.
Like St Gregory of Nazianzos (329-89) when he says that we are to remember God more often than we breathe, they may mean simply that prayer should be as constant and spontaneous — as much a part of our instinctive existence — as the act of respiration.
In that case, the references to our breathing in Sinaite writers are just a way of vividly restating St Paul’s precept, ‘Pray without ceasing’ (1 Thess. The material is hard to date with exactness, but seems to come from the seventh or eighth centuries.