First a quick recap, to put things in context… This training course lasts four weeks in total. Each week has the same format, as described in the Preliminary Section, where you saw an overview of the whole thing. So the structure looks like this:
- Lesson. There’s a short online lesson or reading (like this one), which you should complete on the Monday, as it explains what you’ll be doing throughout the rest of the following week.
- Daily exercise. You’ll read a description of a brief psychological exercise or meditation that we’d like you to practice at least once each day, which should only take a few minutes.
- Audio recording. For each week, there’s a different audio recording, containing a guided contemplative exercise, which you should listen to at least once each day. These range from about 5 – 15 minutes in length but you can listen to some of them in bed at night.
- Self-monitoring. There’s a simple self-monitoring component to each week, which will help you to develop greater mindfulness of your own thoughts, feelings, and actions – these aren’t just about gathering information, though, as people often report they also lead to beneficial changes.
- Discussion questions. There will be one “big question” for group discussion each week, which we’d like everyone to contemplate, reflect upon, and post a comment about to the course forum, to help generate collaboration and a sense of community.
The idea is that the whole training should take a pretty negligible amount of time to follow each day. One of your goals throughout the next four weeks should be to save yourself time, by simplifying life where possible, and reducing the frequency and duration of unproductive trains of thought or activity. In general, we’ll be focusing on three overarching practical themes:
- Developing greater mindfulness of your own (mental and physical) actions, particularly your value judgements, and the relationship between your thoughts, actions, and feelings.
- Distinguishing very clearly between things under your direct control, and things not, i.e., between your own activity and everything else that happens to you.
- Placing greater importance on the quality of your own character and (voluntary) actions in life, which the Stoics called “virtue”.
Now let’s look more closely at what you’ll be doing this week…