In the easten church, there is a discipline that allows "prayer without ceasing," even when conversing with others. Many monks do that. Perhaps the world would be a worse place without it. There is no way to really tell, is there?
Shortly after I came out of the monastery, my nephew found me crying in my car. He asked what wrong. I replied, "It's the way people treat one another. It's the way society functions. Don't they know what they are doing to one another and to life itself?" It was one of the saddest realizations of my life. I'd forgotten how it was outside of monastery grounds. I've since become more accustomed to it.
Culture shock can be traumatic.
OMG, Poly, when I moved to Manhattan I was given a book that introduces that lifestyle. It absolutely changed my life to having an even stronger spiritual focus, despite that I had just moved to a place where there were many who had had their spirituality and humanity destroyed, and who had become sadly demoralized. Those lost souls knowingly or unknowingly, were often trying to aggressively pass that pestilence on to anyone with whom they dealt.
I believe the short prayer in English is something like "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, be merciful to me [a sinner]." It is both a mantra and a meditation that keeps a person in a higher mode of consciousness — and it continues even while the person is living and working in the physical world.
As I saw a few months back on 60 Minutes about the monasteries in Greece, I am sure that you learned that lifestyle from the older monks in the monastery, but if you happen to know the book that I am thinking of, please let me know the name of it. My books have been in storage back in NYC for several years now, and I would love to rent that book from the library to reread it for a quick refresher course. It is time for some more inspiration!
UPDATE: I tracked it down with Google—the book is "The Way of a Pilgrim" and the prayer is called "The Jesus Prayer."
'Tis a good little book on the topic...the narrative taking place in Czarist Russia.
The "prayer rope" is utilized at the beginning of the discipline. Once the prayer can be said even while conversing, etc., any prayer can take its place. The prayer itself is a discipline to come to that point. The prayer isn't an end in itself, though many monks think it is.
You may enjoy the Philokalia. A difficult book to grasp that even many monks can't comprehend. It's a compilation of writings by monks of the past. If you can, grasp it, it's life transforming. Don't interpret it literally. It's like the Bible. Full of allegories and metaphors. Pointings.
In particular the references to union with God as coming to know all that there is to know about everything carries with it a huge disparity between the interpretation of those statements and what they actually mean. The statements are true. Most interpretations of them are false...based on "beliefs." Many of those beliefs have nothing to do with religion.
Understanding the allegories and metaphors and suspending beliefs leads to the true interpretation...and the experience. The experiece is life transforming. It can only be pointed to, not described.
I'd liken the book to Zen koans with a Christian approach. Studying the basics of zen would be helpful.
From the non-cannonized Gosple of Thomas. "A man must become as a woman and a woman as a man." True. And it doesn't mean what most people would assume it to mean. From a zen perspective, the true meaning is derived. Just be...........without labels and preconceptions to follow. Who you are will unfold naturally..and is a beautiful thing. Following the labels distorts the Being. Being-ness. You too can simply say "I am that I am" without claiming godhead.