the six essential exercises
Once we develop these inner qualities, we stand above all the dangers that can arise from the division in human nature. We can no longer stray from the path. These qualities, therefore, must be formed with the greatest precision. Then we enter the esoteric life.
-Steiner, Berlin, December 7, 1905
Steiner describes a series of qualities that are essential to our growth and development. Inner work is a major construct of anthroposophy, and one can easily understand the importance of it for the Waldorf classroom teacher, and for anyone else who wants to work on their inner Self.
The six essential qualities are as follows:
1. Control of Thoughts. Mastery of one's thoughts begins with setting aside a short time each day to focus consciously on a thought, placing it center in one's mind, and actively arranging other thoughts related to it in a logical manner. In this way, one practices creating order and logic in one's mind.
2. Self-Initiated Action. Often, our actions are a result of reactive circumstances, obligations to work and family, and environmental stimuli. This exercise asks one to initiate an activity or task that is derived solely from one's own inner drive, creating a connection with one's individualistic, unique Self.
3. Eveness of Feelings. Steiner describes it as detachment or imperturbability (detachment sounds too emotionless, and imperturbability is a funky word!) so I am using "eveness of feelings." One simply practices in regulating one's emotions to weather the ups and downs of life. Also, it decribes one's ability to take an objective perspective to fully evaluate the circumstances of one's surroundings. Sometimes, it helps to step outside of the self to see oneself clearly.
4. Goodness of a Thing. In everything, there is goodness. One must practice in seeing the silver lining in every situation that arises. Yin and yang. We are confronted everyday by what appears to us as negativity. It is a higher state to see the positive within it.
5. Having Faith. In the esoteric sense, this means that every new experience is met with openness. One must practice in avoiding past events and circumstances to color how one may approach a new idea or thought or concept. This allows you more freedom to experience the fullness of the world. You become fearless.
6. Balance. This is key to any esoteric or practical training. One must practice in harmonizing one's activities so that there is time for meditation, for practicing these exercises, for family, and everything else that develops one as a fully functioning human being.