Rhythms | Virtues of the Month | Exercises

The Anthroposophical Society is to be an association of people whose will it is to nurture the life of the soul, both in the individual and in human society, on the basis of a true knowledge of the spiritual world.

The Anthroposophical Society is in no sense a secret society, but is entirely public. Anyone can become a member, without regard to nationality, social standing, religion, scientific or artistic conviction, who considers as justified the existence of an institution such as the Goetheanum in Dornach, in its capacity as a School of Spiritual Science.

from the Statutes of the Anthroposophical Society.

Anthroposophy, to have existence in our time, must use the means which the civilization of today provides. In books and lectures it must find its way to men. But in its nature it is not of the library shelf. It must be born anew in the human heart whenever a human being turns to the written book to learn of it. This cannot be unless the author looked into the hearts of his fellow-men while he wrote, in order to discover what he must say to them. A man can only do this if he is touched by the living Spirit as he writes. Then he will confide to the dead written word something which the soul of the reader, who is seeking for the Spirit, can feel like a resurrection of the Spirit from the word. Books that can come to life in the human being as he reads - these alone may be called anthroposophical.

Rudolf Steiner


Under Construction


Virtues of the Month

January: Courage becomes the power to redeem.
Opposite:Timidity, Anxiety

February: Discretion becomes meditative strength
Opposite: Comment, Criticism

March: Magnanimity becomes love.
Opposite: Pettiness, Narrowness

April: Devotion becomes the force of sacrifice.
Opposite: No concern, spring fever.

May: Inner balance becomes progress.
Opposite: Externals take over, too busy.

June: Perseverance becomes faithfulness.
Opposite: Loss of grip, giving up.

July: Selflessness leads to catharsis.
Opposite: Self-Absorption, Willfulness

August: Compassion leads to freedom.
Opposite: Heartlessness, Insensitivity

September: Courtesy becomes tactfulness of heart.
Opposite: Inconsiderateness, Insensitivity

October: Contentment becomes equanimity.
Opposite: Complaint, Dissatisfaction

November: Patience becomes insight.
Opposite: Hurry, Loss of temper

December: Control of speech becomes feeling for truth.
Opposite: Talkativeness, Gossip


Six Basic Exercises

Rudolf Steiner gave six exercises which are fundamental to his meditative work. We invite you to join us in practicing them.

No. 1 - The Control of Thought

The first exercise has to do with the control of thinking. It is designed to keep our minds from wandering, to focus them, in order to strengthen our meditative work. There are several versions of this exercise. Here is one version:

Select a simple object - a pin, a button, a pencil. Try to think about it exclusively for five minutes. You may think about the way the object is manufactured, how it is used, what its history is. Try to be logical and realistic in your thinking. This exercise is best if practiced faithfully every day. You may use the same object every day or a new object each day, as you choose.

No. 2 - The Control of Will

Choose a simple action to perform each day at a time you select. It should be something you do not ordinarily do; it can even be a little odd. Then make it a duty to perform this action at that time each day. Rudolf Steiner gives the example of watering a flower each day at a certain time. As you progress, additional tasks can be added at other times.

This exercise is as hard as it is simple and takes a very strong intention to complete. To start you might think of it as you think of a dentist's appointment - you do not want to be late. It can be helpful to mark your success or failure on the calendar each day. If you completely forget at the time, but remember later, do it then and try to do better the next day.

No. 3 - Equanimity

The third exercise is the development of balance between joy and sorrow, pleasure and pain, the heights of pleasure and the depths of despair. Strive for a balanced mood. An attempt should be made not to become immoderately angry or annoyed, not to become anxious or fearful, not to become disconcerted, nor to be overcome by joy or sorrow. Rather should your natural feelings be permitted to be quietly felt. Try to maintain your composure. This leads to an inner tranquillity and purer feelings of the soul.

No. 4

This exercise is the development of a positive attitude to life. Attempt to seek for the good, praiseworthy, and beautiful in all beings, all experiences and all things. Soon you will begin to notice the hidden good and beautiful that lies concealed in all things. This is connected with learning not to criticize everything. You can ask how something came to be or to act the way it is. One way to overcome the tendency to criticize is to learn to 'characterize' instead.

No. 5

For this exercise, make the effort to confront every new experience with complete open-mindedness. The habit of saying, "I never heard that" or "I never saw that before" should be overcome. The possibility of something completely new coming into the world must be left open, even if it contradicts allyour previous knowledge and experience.

No. 6

If you have been trying the earlier exercises of thinking, will, equilibrium, positivity and tolerance, you are now ready to try them together two or three at a time, in varying combinations until they become natural and harmonious.

For more information see Guidance in Esoteric Training, by Rudolf Steiner.