The six basic
by Rudolf Steiner
- an introduction
Rudolf Steiner has given six simple
exercises to develop and purify thinking, feeling and willing.
They are called basic
exercises or additional
Nebenübungen) because you can do them in addition to
meditation. Even if you do not want to meditate, these
exercises are good
to do. You get to know yourself better and life becomes more
Thinking, feeling and willing are parts of the soul.
By practising them - first separately (thinking,
willing) and then in combinations - you develop your soul.
There are several reasons to do these exercises:
meditation thinking, feeling and willing become detached from
each other and can go their own way.
ordinary life, too, one may observe disconnection between
thinking, feeling and willing. You feel something and you
think something that
has no connection with that feeling. E.g. you may feel pity,
but you think: 'that's not my problem'. Or you do something,
which you did not
think about and with which you are not satisfied. E.g. you watch
television and see someone eating peanuts, you go to
the kitchen and take some and eat them, and then you
think: 'why am I eating peanuts, did I want to do that?'. With
these exercises you will strengthen integration of the three.
- Sometimes you may find that
thinking, feeling and
willing happen automatically and that some thoughts,
actions are not so pretty. By doing the basic exercises, you can
The six exercises
- Control of thought aims to gain control over what you
- Control of will aims to
gain control over your actions.
- Equanimity - the exercise of feeling - aims
to be aware of
your feelings, to weaken strong feelings and strengthen weak ones and
to balance them.
- Positivity aims to see the
positive in addition to the
bad and the ugly. In this exercise thinking and feeling are
- Open-mindedness aims to be always open to new
experiences. In this exercise feeling and willing are combined.
- Inner harmony:
the sixth, in which the previous exercises need to be practiced in
create harmony between thinking, feeling and willing.
The goals of the exercises
- To be more aware of how you think, feel and act.
- To gain more control over thoughts, feelings and
- To think, feel and act more clearly.
- To make a harmonious whole of thinking, feeling and
practice alone or in a group. The latter enables you to
exchange experiences, to stimulate each other and to maintain the
exercises for a longer period.
They may seem easy to do, but are not so easy to maintain for four
weeks. It may seem that everyday life asks so much of you that there is
to do the exercises. It may be helpful to write down your experiences
every day: what exercise you have
done and how it went.
Although Steiner made several statements about the duration of the
exercises, it is generally recommended that all exercises are done
consecutively and in the mentioned order for
four weeks. After having practiced for four weeks, the
acquired skills form a habit that will be included in your
vital or etheric body.
When you start an exercise, the first week you are
enthusiastic because of the novelty of the exercise. So first you are
forward by the exercise. Somewhere in the first or second week the
gone and you have to do the exercise by yourself - you have to
generate enthusiasm inside yourself. It becomes more difficult to do
exercise, you need to invest more, which also makes the effect of the
It may be quite effective if you do each
exercise one week and then take the next one - so you
for a week alternately. How you do the exercises is ultimately up
to you, your possibilities and your interest.
Take them seriously, but not too seriously; they should not be a duty.
Humour gets you further!
Dam, J. van, 1999. Het zesvoudige pad. Vrij Geestesleven,
Steiner, Rudolf, 1910. An outline to esoteric science. Steiner books.
Flensburger Hefte 47,
1994. Übungen zur
A downloadable booklet of the exercises can be found here