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A style of piety associated with the eastern church and ascribed to the monks of Mt. Athos in the fourteenth century. The word means "quiet." The monks of Mt. Athos developed a method of prayer and contemplation which included a continuous repetition of the "Jesus Prayer" while controlling the breath, resting the chin upon the chest, and focusing the eyes upon the navel. These practices were believed to lead the participant to perceive the Divine Light with the senses. This light was identified with God and with the light that surrounded Jesus at the Transfiguration. Hesychasm was controversial. Gregory Palamas was a principal defender of hesychasm in the fourteenth century, and its supporters have been known as "Palamites." Hesychasm has been a point of division between eastern and western churches. It led to the expression "navel gazing." See Jesus Prayer, The. 

Glossary definitions provided courtesy of Church Publishing Incorporated, New York, NY,(All Rights reserved) from "An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church, A User Friendly Reference for Episcopalians," Don S. Armentrout and Robert Boak Slocum, editors.
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