I am down in the lower level of our house having a quiet time with my library. I have been mainly reading this afternoon from these two books, "A Sunlit Absence: Silence, Awareness, and Contemplation" by Martin Laird and "The Art of Prayer: An Orthodox Anthology" compiled by Igumen Chariton of Valamo.
I like to quote right now from the book "The Art of Prayer" something that has been going around and around in my mind lately.
"Do not try to measure your progress
Warmth of heart, about which you write, is a good condition, which should be guarded and maintained. When it weakens, you must continue to kindle it, gathering yourself together inwardly with all your strength and calling upon God. To prevent it leaving you, you must avoid distraction of thought and impressions coming through the senses, which are incompatible with this state. Avoid the attachment of your heart to anything visible, or the absorption of your attention by any worldly care. Let your attention toward God be unwavering, and the tautness of your body unslackened, like a bowstring, or a soldier on parade. But the most important thing is to pray to God and ask Him to prolong this mercy of warmth in the heart.
When the query arises 'Is this it?', make it your rule once and for all mercilessly to drive away all such questions as soon as they appear. The originate from the enemy. If you linger over this question the enemy will pronounce the decision without delay, 'Oh yes, certainly it is-you have done very well!' From then on you stand on stilts and begin to harbour illusions about yourself and to think that others are good for nothing. Grace will vanish: but the enemy will make you think that grace is still with you. This will mean that you think you possess something, when really you have nothing at all. The Holy Fathers wrote, 'Do not measure yourself.' If you think you can decide any question about your progress, it means that you are beginning to measure yourself to see how much you have grown. Please avoid this as you would avoid fire." pg. 158, 159 Theophan the Recluse
glorycloud written on August 14, 2003