This is a continuation of the preceding post . . . Contemplation first flourished among those who lived the simple life—a life lived near the earth, aware of the cycle of the days and seasons, and who looked to God in all things (Celtic Christianity is an example of this in the West).
But these poor and relatively uneducated have not enjoyed the luxury of writing books---which is one reason it may appear that contemplation is a luxury of the affluent. These hidden "saints" have practiced the contemplative life, centering their hearts in Christ while they pull the plow, and calling upon the Holy Spirit to bless the hearth, the field, the womb, yielding their lives to the Father-Mother of All when their bodies fail and their loved ones die too young from war or disease.
That said, there are monks who have written, and some laypersons as well. And we have their testimony, though it’s not always easy to find. One of the chief purposes of this site is to help contemporary seekers to drink from the sacred fountain of Christian spiritual history.
As for the resources I promised to Miltali, here are a few:
1. The Way of the Pilgrim/The Pilgrim Continues His Way. A nineteen century exploration of the Jesus Prayer by an anonymous layperson who seeks to inspire the contemplative practice among Russian peasants.
2. The Wisdom of the Desert. A collection of wisdom sayings from the poor saints of early Egypt. Edited by Thomas Merton.
3. And for a non-Western, Indian exploration of the contemplative life, see Yoga and the Jesus Prayer Tradition: An Experiment of Faith, by Thomas Matus (out of print but available through this bookstore).
4. There’s also the little travelogue by the 6th century monk, John Moschos, whose collection of stories and anecdotes from his travels in Egypt, Syria, Palestine, and Asia Minor reveal a world seldom seen by modern people. Here's a people (largely poor, non-Western, and relatively uneducated) who signal an astonishing awareness of the presence of God, and they're made so because of their spiritual practices. It’s called, The Spiritual Meadow.
5. Add to this list my free little ebook download, "Returning to the Center: Living Prayer in a Distracting World." It's a memoir of my awakening and a personal ancd contemporary introduction to the treasures of the Christian past.
These are the ones that come immediately to mind. They’re mainly old. But that means they’re classics and have nourished saints throughout the ages. If you’re interested in carving out or enhancing a spiritual life for yourself these ought to give you a good start.