Overcoming Impulse Through Relaxation and the Prayer

In a previous post, I wrote about our innate double-mindedness and how those two minds are often at war with each other when it comes to addictive attractions. At the time of temptation, the rational mind finds itself hijacked by a hyperactive impulsive system that grabs our inner steering wheel driving us down the road of impulsive behavior. For the impulsive, there are certain triggers that are experienced through anyone of their five senses (or even memories of those sense impressions) that excite them and propel them toward the impulsive behavior. Focusing on those triggers or even … [Read more...]

Prayer for the Departed

In our last post, we spoke about the importance of thoughts related to remembrance of death and the relation of those thoughts to repentance. For any thought to have strength to effect a change deep within the soul, it needs to be incarnate in daily life and find expression in human behavior. For the Christian, the remembrance of death is also the remembrance of eternal life; and that remembrance becomes strong only by contact with death and with true life. Saint John Maximovitch, who reposed in 1966, often visited the sick in hospitals. He speaks about the comfort of faith in the time of … [Read more...]

Employing the “As If” Technique in Behavioral Modification

Experience teaches both cognitive therapists and spiritual fathers that it is easier to change concrete actions or to introduce new ones, than it is to change patterns of thinking. In dealing with addictive behavior—whether it be alcohol and drug abuse, gambling, or sexual addictions—the addict needs to learn not only anti-addictive behaviors, but also entirely new ways of behaving, outside of the confining world of constraints and pressures imposed on the addict by the addiction. Ancient Christian Wisdom describes one aspect of this strategy as the “as if” technique. “The ‘as if’ technique … [Read more...]

The Modes of Faith, Reason and the Role of the Nous in Coping with Thoughts

In our last blog post, we spoke about faith and hesychasm as means of coping with the thoughts. In the West, the mode of reason has been championed as the sine qua non concerning all knowledge claims about the human person and the world in which we live.  This is a radical departure from the ancient Christian world view where, as I note in chapter five of my book, “In addition to a primitive mode of passion and a metacognitive mode of reason, the man of faith knows a third state in which he experiences diving grace through the spiritual heart that is also called the nous.  Saint Mark the … [Read more...]

Remembrance of God

The nihilistic worldview of which I wrote in the last blog post is a formidable adversary to psychological and spiritual well-being primarily because at the root of nihilism is pride, the greatest of all lies and the most luciferian expression of evil.  (One will find in my book that the spiritual and psychological run along parallel and not dissimilar lines and therefore I often refer to them in conjunction).  That is why the antidote proposed in the last post was the humble remembrance of God.  Traditionally, this is done in two ways: 1) the prayerful recitation of the Psalms and 2) the … [Read more...]

The Passions, Remembrance of God, and the Jesus Prayer

In the daily struggles of life, most of us assume that the passions such as anger, envy, jealousy, or lust are engendered by the circumstances in which we live.  One who perceives a negative situation, either from a demanding boss, a critical spouse, or a difficult child and yields to the passions may think “Well, if my boss hadn’t made that comment I wouldn’t be angry” or “If my husband would just do what I ask him. . .I wouldn’t have given in to anger or judgment.”  Once we begin to think this way, we start to give in to sinful behavior ourselves.  We justify such behavior by concluding that … [Read more...]

More on Thoughts. . .

One might wonder why I’m spending quite some time on the nature of thoughts.  Well, they are at the root of every human act-whether it be virtuous or full of vice.  The act starts in the thoughts.  It’s also in the realm of the thoughts that the spiritual warfare is fought.  In chapter 8 of my book, entitled, “To Survey the Thoughts”, I note that “monastic tradition enjoins beginners in the Christian life to turn to prayer whenever they are confronted with enticing, ambiguous, or deceitful thoughts.  For example, St. Nicodemos the Hagiorite advises those who are unable to resist or repel … [Read more...]