STOIC EXERCISES (adapted from Donald Robertson's versions of the exercises)
The View from Above.
Observe (or just imagine) the rising sun and the stars at daybreak, and think of the whole cosmos and your place within it. Donald Robertson's recording can help you Download it from https://dl.dropbox.com/u/57729041/viewfromabovestoicweek.mp3
Mentally rehearse generic Stoic precepts
Some examples include:-
“Some things are under our control and others are not”.
"We are not disturbed by events but by our opinions about events"
"The Universe is change. Life is opinion"
" Do not act as if you had ten thousand years still to live…rather while you still can, while there is
still time, make yourself good"
Mentally rehearse any potential challenges of the day ahead, and the specific Stoic precepts required to cope wisely with them
For example, imagine an adverse event such as being stuck in a traffic jam or being delayed in public transport and imagine telling yourself "We are not disturbed by events but by our opinions about events".
Periodically contemplate apparent “catastrophes” such as illness, poverty, bereavement and especially your own death, rehearse facing such calamities “philosophically”, i.e., with rational composure
Contemplation of the Stoic Sage
Pick a wise person, either a historical figure such as Socrates or Epictetus or someone you admire who characterises many Stoic virtues. Try to put his or her philosophical attitudes into a few plain words, what must the sage be telling themselves when faced with the same adversities you must overcome? Memorise these precepts and try to apply them yourself.
Mindfulness of the Ruling Faculty (prosoche)
Identify with your essential nature as a rational being, and learn to prize wisdom and the other virtues as the chief good in life. Continually bring your attention back to your character, actions, and judgements, in the here and now, during any given situation.
Indifference & Acceptance.
View external things with indifference. Serenely accept the given moment as if you had chosen your own destiny, “will your fate”
Evaluating Profit (lusiteles).
Think of life as a series of transactions, selling your actions and judgements in return for experiences. What does it profit you to gainthe whole world if you lose yourself ? Losing external things may be a good bargain if you gain virtue.
When you are upset, remind yourself that it is your judgement that upsets you and not external events or the actions of others. Be cautious that you don’t get carried away by appearances
When someone acts like your enemy, insults or opposes you, remember that they were only doing what seemed to them the right thing, they didn’t know any better, and say: “It seemed so to them”
Physical Self-Control Training.
Train yourself, in private without making a show of it, to endure physical hardship and renounce unnecessary desires, e.g., practice drinking only water
Impermanence & Acceptance.
Contemplate the transience of material things, how things are made and then destroyed over time, and the temporary nature of pleasure, pain, and reputation.
Act with the “Reserve Clause”.
Rather than being guided by desire or aversion, use judgement to guide your impulses toward and away from things, and add the “reserve clause”, i.e., “Fate permitting” to every intention to act upon externals
Natural Affection (Philostorgia) & Philanthropy.
Contemplate the virtues of both your friends and enemies. Empathise with everyone. To help with philanthropy you can carry out the Concentric Circles exercise (p.20)
Affinity (Oikeiôsis) and Cosmic Consciousness
Think of yourself as par tof the whole cosmos, indeed imagine the whole of space and time as one and your place within it. Imagine that everything is inter-connected . Imagine that everything is inter-connected.
The Retrospective Evening Meditation
Mentally review the whole of the preceding day three times from beginning to end,and even the days before if necessary. Ask yourself What have I done amiss? What have I done well?What is left undone?
Relaxation & Sleep
Adopt an attitude of contentment and satisfaction with the day behind you. (As if you could die pleased with your life so far.)