As we grow in sensitivity to the interior movements of the heart, we begin to notice times when our mind seems unwieldy and distracted. This does not mean necessary that we are unable to keep a single train of thought, but rather that our mind seems disconnected from our body. It seems to be floating everywhere but the present, rapidly consuming idea after idea in a frantic search for satisfaction.

Such a state of mind is both uncomfortable and often unfruitful. Instead of being recollected and characterized by inner stillness, we experience our interior life as if it were the frenetic movements of traffic in New York City. A vast variety of stimuli seem to pass by our field of attention, and we can become overwhelmed by the constant activity.

Learning to be recollected is a delicate science that does not automatically come with any particular technique or method. A helpful understanding of the state of being recollected comes from Gregory Palamas who describes it as the “mind being within the body.”[1] In Mindfulness literature, they add a nuance to such a state by describing as being fully present in the moment. In my understanding, this does not mean that we only think about our immediate surroundings. Rather it describes a relationship between the mind and the body in which both are operating in harmony.

This does not mean that we are somehow wrong or sinning if our experience is filled with anxiety or worry. Often our prayer fluctuates in ways that allow us to experience the full gamut of emotions and to do so is an integral aspect of the human experience. As our meditation matures and settles, we learn to allow ourselves to experience our suffering in more direct ways. Instead of trying to run from it with a thousand distractions, perhaps even pious distractions, we soon learn to face the disorders of the heart with courage and patience.

In this way, we learn to keep the mind in the body in both our positive and negative experiences. We do this in the context of an ongoing relationship with the Most Holy Trinity, gently handing over to God the totality of our lives in complete surrender.


[1] This phrase can be found in The Triads by Gregory Palamas