The six basic exercises 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 exercises ((German: 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 interesting.

Thinking, feeling and willing are parts of the soul. By practising them - first separately (thinking, feeling, willing) and then in combinations - you develop your soul.

There are several reasons to do these exercises:

The six exercises

  1. Control of thought aims to gain control over what you think.
  2. Control of will aims to gain control over your actions.
  3. Equanimity - the exercise of feeling - aims to be aware of your feelings, to weaken strong feelings and strengthen weak ones and to balance them.
  4. Positivity aims to see the positive in addition to the bad and the ugly. In this exercise thinking and feeling are combined.
  5. Open-mindedness aims to be always open to new experiences. In this exercise feeling and willing are combined.
  6. Inner harmony: the sixth, in which the previous exercises need to be practiced in order to create harmony between thinking, feeling and willing.

The goals of the exercises

You can 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 no time 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 pulled forward by the exercise. Somewhere in the first or second week the novelty has gone and you have to do the exercise by yourself - you have to generate enthusiasm inside yourself. It becomes more difficult to do the exercise, you need to invest more, which also makes the effect of the exercise stronger.

It may be quite effective if you do each exercise one week and then take the next one - so you do exercises 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!


A downloadable booklet of the exercises can be found here.

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