Friday, November 23, 2012

Live like a Stoic (for a week)

"Live Like a Stoic week" starts on Monday.
Anyone can take part, and there is a free booklet available which contains lots of Stoic exercises and readings. To take part you do not need to go anywhere in particular - but you will need to do some reading and some Stoic "meditations". The intention is that you will learn more about Stoicism and adopt more of a Stoic attitude to life.  And it may surprise you to find out that being more Stoic doesn't mean having a stiff upper lip or becoming Mr Spock ...

The week is part of a project being developed by the University of Exeter Classics department. Their team and a number of experts on Stoicism, psychotherapy and classics got together in October to discuss how best to enable Stoicism to be a help to modern life. I was honoured to be invited to be part of the group and am looking forward to trying the experiment myself.

Here is one exercise that I contributed to the booklet - you might like to try it and comment, if you like, on the effect it has on you. The idea would be to do this and other meditations every day during the Stoic week.
A meditation to help appreciation

Epictetus tells us that “He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has."
The following meditation may help you adopt this attitude.

Quieten your mind for a few moments by taking a few deep breaths and closing you eyes. Parade in front of your mind a procession of some of the good things that have happened in your life, the good fortune that has befallen you.  You might notice  personal qualities that you possess, such as good health or a fine intellect.  You may recall accidents of history,such as being born in a prosperous age or a democratic country. You might remember some of the  positive events in your life, like meeting your partner or best friend.  Spend a few moments feeling happy that you have been blessed with these pieces of  good fortune. Now choose just one of these good things. Imagine that it had not happenedReflect for several moments on the ways in which your life would be worse. Take a few more deep breaths and open your eyes, more able to rejoice in the things that you have.

There are lots more in the booklet!
If you take part you are also encouraged to do the questionnaires which will help us assess what effects Stoicism has on your well-being.

Free Stoic Booklet link