Hesychasm, as I understand it, is a form of deep inner prayer, or prayer of the heart.
Hesychasm is a mystical tradition of prayer in the Orthodox Church. It is described in great detail in the Philokalia, a compilation of what various saints wrote about prayer and the spiritual life.
Hesychasm may involve specific body postures, and may be accompanied by deliberate breathing exercises. It involves acquiring an "inner stillness," ignoring the senses. The hesychasts interpreted Christ's injunction in the Gospel of Matthew to "go into your closet to pray" to mean that they should move beyond the senses and withdraw inwards to pray. Hesychasm often includes repeating the Jesus Prayer: "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me [a sinner]".
St. Theophan the Recluse once related that body postures and breathing techniques were virtually forbidden in his youth, since, instead of gaining the Spirit of God, people succeeded only "in ruining their lungs."
Hesychasm was defended theologically by Gregory Palamas at about three separate "Hesychast Synods" in Constantinople from 1341 to 1351. St. Gregory was asked to by his fellow monks on Mt. Athos to defend it from the attacks of Barlaam of Calabria, who advocated a more intellectualist approach to prayer.
One of the most recommended books to me after I returned to Christ is The Way Of The Pilgrim, written by an anonymous Russian peasant in the 19th century. It focuses almost entirely on prayer, particularly the Jesus Prayer. The importance of prayer The Apostle's directive indicates that the act of