Nikiphoros the Monk
Nikiphoros the Monk (also called Nikiphoros the Hesychast) was a 13th-century monk and spiritual writer of the Eastern Orthodox Church. According to Gregory Palamas, Nikiphoros was originally Roman Catholic but travelled to the Byzantine Empire where he converted to the Eastern Orthodox faith and became a monk at Mount Athos. Like Theoleptos of Philadelphia, Nikiphoros was a strong opponent of the union of the Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches which was agreed to at the Council of Lyons in 1274. Because of this, he was imprisoned and later wrote an account of his ordeal. The main theme of Nikiphoros’ spiritual writings in the Philokalia is ‘nepsis’ (Greek νήψις) which is usually translated as watchfulness or vigilance. For those inexperienced in prayer and spiritual self-control, the mind tends to wander and lapse into imagination. Nikiphoros described a method of breathing while praying to concentrate the mind within the heart in order to practice watchfulness.