I posted A meditation for Stoics last week, and since then have done this procedure with myself daily and with two different groups of over a dozen people. Each time it was done a little differently by adding a little nuance to the procedure derived from the earlier experiences. The basic idea is to create tranquility within oneself, contentment with the world outside of oneself and a direct relationship with the observed world. And then to energize one’s whole self with the energy needed for effective action.
I recently attended a lesson in how to reach a more joyous emotional state, but what I want to do here is to make a similar procedure available to a rational stoic. My form of stoicism is to encourage tranquility within oneself, to be content with the world as it is, and to be effective in the world. That means living one’s life well within what is readily available, ignoring impossible things, and not grasping after trivialities. The procedure suggested below is as easy as seeing, breathing, and feeling; doing it occasionally will help you to keep in touch with yourself and more functional in the world around you.
Typically with meditations a person retreats to a quiet place where there will be no distractions, and for the first few attempts at this new procedure that is recommended; however, as you develop some skill with these meditations it is better to enhance the distractions until ultimately you can do these types of meditations in an infinitely difficult situation, without outward appearance of doing anything whatsoever.
Begin by mentally placing yourself in a quiet room, in a quiet wilderness, in a quiet world. This can physically be in your own room or anyplace, because it is the idea of quietly taking mental control of your inner space and your external environment. Begin by closing your eyes and taking three quiet breathing cycles, then turn slightly to your left, and slowly do one breath cycle while thinking these words “I am tranquil within myself and with all my past.” Turn slightly to your front and do one breath cycle while simply observing but analyzing nothing, and then turn slightly toward your right and with one slow breath thinking, “I am content with the world and all that has passed.” Return your mind to the center, observe and think of nothing in particular. We will do this cycle three times while moving from the past through the present and then to the future, at each time pausing at the center. On the second cycle, turn left and think “I am tranquil with my present self.” Turn center and “I observe the world as it is.” Turn right and, “I am content with the world as it is.” Back to center, “I just observe.” On the third cycle, “I am tranquil with what I will become.” Center, “I observe.” Right, “I am contented with what will come.” Center, “I observe.” and do three slow deep breaths. That was the calming part, and now the energizing part.
Slowly turn your attention and face upward and open your arms, perhaps only mentally; as you breathe in, visualize a flow of energy descending into your whole being, filling you with energy, then slowly blow this breath and energy straight forward and out within your outstretched arms. Let it exist out in front of you for a second, then pull it firmly into your heart. Breathe in and blow slowly out again and then pull the energy into your head; inhale again and blow the energy out again, then pull it into your belly. Take three slow breaths and with an increasing smile open your eyes with tranquility within yourself, contentment toward your world, and eagerness for purposeful action.
A tranquility and contentment meditation gets you ready for action.