Our habits of prayer are a means of carrying us through life on purpose, rather than simply being blown around. Part of our work in the domain of prayer is to build what in Gurdjieffian terminology are called "essence habits." These are the habits that will naturally kick in when we are out of our mind — whether because we find ourselves in some "corridor of madness" as E. J. Gold has described, or some variation of the "dark night of the soul," as St. John of the Cross has described, or some situation of extreme boredom or even deprivation, some externally tragic or threatening situation. Our habit of chanting the name of God could become such an essence habit. Our habit of laying down all our concerns at the feet of God could become an essence habit. Our habit of visualization of the Lord residing in the temple of the heart could become an essence habit. Our habit of breath to return to the center of ourselves could become an essence habit leading to focus, concentration and balance. Any and all of these internal habits could serve us well when the going gets rough.

Regina Sara Ryan, Praying Dangerously