First a Hard Winter Training

Epictetus, one of the most notable Stoic philosophers, spoke wise words in his Discourses that resonate to this day: “We must undergo a rigorous winter training (in Greek ‘cheimask√™sai‘), and not rush into things for which we have not prepared.” This timeless guidance resonates even stronger in our current era, where we live in an increasingly aggressive world, characterized by rapid and incessant changes.

In the accelerated world we inhabit, finding these “moments of tranquility and balance” becomes essential. Sometimes, these moments can be fleeting, like a brief break between meetings or a moment of peace during a morning walk. The ability to perceive and seize these small intervals for reflection, meditation, and mindfulness practice is of great importance.

The metaphor of Epictetus’ “winter training” gains even more significance when we understand that in ancient Greece, battles and wars significantly subsided during the winter. This was the exact time to intensify training, preparing for the challenges that spring would bring. Similarly, in our contemporary world, we must use moments of pause to strengthen ourselves and prepare for what life has in store.

In contemporary society, the notion of extended vacations or even relaxing weekend breaks seems to be becoming an increasingly scarce luxury. The frantic pace of modern life demands that we remain “always alert,” as the scouts say. We cannot afford to let our guard down or relax completely because at every turn, life can throw unexpected challenges our way.

Thus, even if we do not have the opportunity to take extended breaks from our hectic lives, these brief moments of self-compassion and mindfulness can be like small oases in the desert of modern life. They allow us to recharge our mental batteries, find clarity amid chaos, and cultivate the resilience necessary to face the relentless demands of existence.

So, the question remains: what do you do when your “winter” arrives?

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