Perspectives: 'Stoic Spiritual Exercises' by Elen Buzaré

Elen Buzaré, who has studied Stoicism for almost 20 years, has written a concise manual which modernises ancient Stoic therapeutic exercises. Reproduced here, with kind permission of the author, is an extract discussing both Stoic techniques in examining thoughts, or ‘impressions’ also the idea of ‘getting your desire right’. Elen also started this French language forum for practising Stoics.

To read the fascinating extract from Elen’s book, Stoic Spiritual Exercises (© Elen Buzaré, 2012) please click here. 

Report on Stoic Week 2012 now available – 10 things we learnt from Stoic week

We’ve now had time to look at all the questionnaires you’ve filled in and the results make some interesting reading.  You can read the full report here.

Below  is a quick summary, which answers the questions posed in an earlier post.

For those with a very short amount of time for this, a one sentence management summary of the findings is

Extremely promising, interesting results, much scope for further , more focussed research

N.B. Please read the limitations of the research section of the full report before quoting from  this post or the report. Although the findings are very promising, further research is required before more definitive conclusions can be drawn.
10 Things we know now as a result of Exeter Stoic week that we didn’t know before
1) Participating in Stoic week led to approximately a 10% increase on a number of well-validated and widely used measures of well-being.
2) Participants felt both that the one week had increased their knowledge of Stoicism considerably and also expressed a thirst for more knowledge about Stoicism
3) Some Stoic exercises are much more popular and perceived as much more useful than others
4) Stoicism (as experienced in Stoic week) appears to be much more effective at reducing distress than it does at facilitating positive emotions.
5) Stoicism (as experienced in Stoic week) appears to help with some aspects of life satisfaction more than others.
6) Stoicism (as experienced in Stoic week) appears to help with some aspects of flourishing more than others.
7) Stoicism (as experienced in Stoic week) appears to help with reducing some negative emotions more than others.

8) Many participants perceived that Stoic week had helped them roughly equally with various areas of their lives including relationships, becoming a better person and becoming wiser.
9) The detailed “Overall Experience of Stoic week” questionnaire provided us with participants’ experiences of a whole range of topics including :

a. Demographics
b. Satisfaction with Stoic week
c. Use of social media
d. How participants would like to take their own experience forward
e. Feedback on the booklet
10) Whilst there are significant Limitations in the methodology and scope the of research so far, there is reason to think that further more focused research would be worthwhile.

To find out a lot more detail, download the full report on Stoic week here.

and your favourite Stoic Exercise is …. The Retrospective Evening Meditation

The  Stoic Exercise deemed most useful, averaging  a 4.3 star rating (out of five) is             

The Retrospective Evening Meditation

This is the description from the Stoic Booklet  (p. 13)

Mentally review the whole of the preceding day three times from beginning to end,
and even the days before if necessary.
1.1. What done amiss? Ask yourself what mistakes you made and condemn (not yourself
but) what actions you did badly; do so in a moderate and rational manner.
1.2. What done? Ask yourself what virtue, i.e., what strength or wisdom you showed,
and sincerely praise yourself for what you did well.
1.3. What left undone? Ask yourself what could be done better, i.e., what you should do
instead next time if a similar situation occurs.

This exercise also proved to be the most popular of the Stoic exercises in the booklet. Why not try it tonight?

Continue reading “and your favourite Stoic Exercise is …. The Retrospective Evening Meditation”

Your favourite Stoic Exercises 2) The View From Above

The second most useful Stoic Exercise averaging  a 4.2 star rating (out of five) was the View from Above

This is the description from the Stoic Booklet 

Key text: Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, 7.48.

 ‘A fine reflection from Plato. One who would converse about human beings should look on all things earthly as though from some point far above, upon herds,

armies, and agriculture, marriages and divorces, births and deaths, the clamour of law courts, deserted wastes, alien peoples of every kind, festivals, lamentations, and
markets, this intermixture of everything and ordered combination of opposites.’

The Exercise:

The ‘View from Above’ is a guided visualization which is aimed at
instilling a sense of the ‘bigger picture’, and of understanding your role in wider
community of humankind. Continue reading “Your favourite Stoic Exercises 2) The View From Above”

Your favourite Stoic Exercises 3) Mindfulness of the Ruling Faculty (prosoche)

One of the most aspects of Stoic week were the Stoic exercises. Many of these were adapted from Epictetus’s Enchiridion  by Donald Robertson, whose has a new book on Stoicism out next year.

So which Stoic exercises proved most useful and most popular. The votes are now in, and over the next few days we will reveal the answers.

Deemed third most useful was Mindfulness of the Ruling Faculty (Prosoche) which averaged  a 4.1 star rating (out of five)

This is the description from the Stoic Booklet

 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. Continue reading “Your favourite Stoic Exercises 3) Mindfulness of the Ruling Faculty (prosoche)”