Baby-steps toward Stoicism

I am not quite sure why I have been so silent on my blogs. Well, okay, at least in part it is because I am still struggling emotionally. Quite a bit actually. That is why I have decided to really work on learning more about Stoic philosophy. I’ve tried out several things. I enrolled in the month-long Stoic Mindfulness and Resilience Training (SMRT) Course – and was overwhelmed already by the introductory material. Just too much information! I almost gave up on Stoicism altogether because it seemed no matter where I looked, there were stacks of books and no guidance on how to tackle them.

Then I stumbled on an article summarizing research that indicates that online versions of CBT might be just as helpful for somatic-related anxiety. That’s one of the things I struggle with! I have heart palpitations thanks to the hormonal changes my body is going through (yes, I was checked out by a cardiologist). And that’s quite scary! Of course, anxiety can cause heart palpitations, so I often end up in a vicious cycle. Knowing that CBT is in a lot of ways a modern expression of Stoicism, I decided to check this out! So far, it’s been helpful.

And then somehow, I found the bite-sized introduction to Stoic thought: An audio version of The Enchiridion by Epictetus (it starts here). Each segment is about 10 minutes long and I listen to one per day, once while making breakfast and again while massaging my feet. I don’t agree with everything I hear (for example, in today’s segment, there seems to be quite a bit of victim-blaming going on by suggesting “If a man is unhappy, remember that his unhappiness is his own fault.” There are at least some genetic components to depression, making it a more complex problem.). Overall, though, it has been a useful reminder to examine if what I am telling myself might be contributing to my disturbed disposition.

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