Conference Information 2021

Stoicon-x Women: Practical Paths to Flourishing
A five-and-a-half hour virtual event took place on Saturday June 5, 2021

The event showcased how ancient Stoic teachings and practice can help you live a flourishing life of mindfulness, creativity, and care.

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For information about the 2021 conference, see below.

Conference Schedule

Time (ET)Speaker(s)Session
10:00 amDr. Brittany Polat and Kathryn KoromilasWelcome to “Paths to Flourishing”
10:15 amDr. Ranjini GeorgeA Female Buddha and a Roman Emperor: Lessons for Joyful Living
10:45 amEve RichesWhat can Stoicism teach us about caring for others whilst caring for ourselves?
11:15 amJennifer Baker, Leah Goldrick, and Dr. Brittany PolatThe Power to Care: How a Stoic approach to life helps in raising children and care-taking
11:45 amLalya LloydHow teaching made me a (better) Stoic
11:55 amElizabeth AzidePassage as power: freedom through a right view of time
12:05 pmSophia ShapiraKeeping Stoicism relevant when your brain won’t cooperate
12:15 pmAndi Sciacca and Greg SadlerStoicism: A Basis for Solid Marriage
12:45 pmBreakBreak
1:00 pmConnect and chatSocial break out room to connect and chat with other Stoics
1:30 pmJamie M. LombardiStoicism for an Absurd Life
2:00 pmKaren Duffy, Kasey Pierce, Rocio de Torres and Kathryn KoromilasCreative Stoics
2:30 pmDr. Alkistis AgioMeditation to connect with your Daimonion or higher self
2:45 pmSharon LebellKeynote Address
How to live a philosophical life and how Stoicism helps to be a better musician and artist.
3:15 pmSharon LebellQ&A with Sharon Lebell
3:25 pm Brittany Polat and Kathryn KoromilasClosing remarks
3:30 pmClose

Session abstracts

In order of appearance.

Dr Ranjini George: A Female Buddha and a Roman Emperor: Lessons for Joyful Living

Both Emperor and Boddhisattva—awakened being or enlightened sage–offer us 108 lessons for fortifying the “inner citadel” of our mind: strategies to keep our Tara nature, or “guardian spirit,” “inviolate and free from harm.” On this June day of 2021, as we gather at the painted porch where the blue lotus blooms, we learn from ancient wisdom, east and west. For now, we will focus on 3 lessons: forgiveness (or letting be), inter-being, and how to flourish in our work (dharma). We will conclude this session with an experience of stillness and open space, contemplate maxims and mantras, and connect to the principle of the sacred feminine. “Waste no more time arguing what a good woman should be. Be one.”

Eve Riches: What can Stoicism teach us about caring for others whilst caring for ourselves?

Abstract forthcoming.

PANEL. Jennifer Baker, Leah Goldrick, and Dr. Brittany Polat: The Power to Care: How a Stoic approach to life helps in raising children and care-taking

Abstract forthcoming.

Lalya Lloyd: How teaching made me a (better) Stoic

How can teaching make you a better Stoic? When I turned 30, I changed career completely, accepting a position at a highly competitive boys’ school in London. I was unprepared for the levels of stress, the workload and the difficulty of a career which is as much about people-management as it is about self-management. After a couple of years during which I thought I might sink, I began – unconsciously – to practise the Stoic virtues of wisdom, courage and moderation. I became resilient. I started to swim. And finally I realised the value of self-knowledge in facing life’s most difficult challenges.

Elizabeth Azide: Passage as power: freedom through a right view of time

A conscious awareness of both the wholeness and swiftness of time, as the Stoics encourage us to maintain, enables freedom from the tyranny of the moment, and the freedom to appreciate what a particular moment brings. Recognizing the eventual and inevitable conclusion of any one experience, we’re to ask ourselves, “Am I to enjoy, or endure?” This litmus test paired with an intimate understanding of the passage of time allows us to draw on what’s needed to effectively exist within and beyond a single moment.

Sophia Shapira: Keeping Stoicism relevant when your brain won’t cooperate

Ancient Stoic philosophers such as Epictetus and Marcus Aurelius believed that all of our negative emotions resulted from our judgement about external things and could be resolved by simply adjusting our view of things. In the twenty-first century, however, we realize that it is not always that simple. There are some things that we are averse to, not because we have judged them to be bad, but because millions of years of evolution have predisposed us to be averse to them. And that is before we even take into account conditions ranging from Attention Deficit to Autism. People with such conditions are probably more keenly aware than most of a reality that everyone faces – the reality that whether it be the virtue of our actions or the fortitude of our emotions, the human mind doesn’t always do as it is told. Does that make Stoicism irrelevant? Not at all!! We might occasionally behave in a not entirely virtuous manner or suffer negative emotions for reasons that, despite being internal, are not entirely in our control. Stoicism can not eliminate this discord entirely. But by visualizing our mind as being made of layers like an onion (just like ogres from Shrek do) we can use Stoicism to contain, mitigate, and altogether reduce this discord. Stoicism can not solve everything – but by accepting that its limitations are beyond our locus of control, we can get it to solve enough to make it very much worth its while.

Andi Sciacca and Greg Sadler: Stoicism: A Basis for Solid Marriage

We will discuss classic Stoic views on marriage – including how they can be used to inform present day marriages and partnered relationships. We will also discuss several Stoic practices and insights that lead to a more solid basis for relationships, drawing from our own experiences.

Jamie M. Lombardi: Stoicism for an Absurd life

There’s lots of talk about how Stoicism can help you live a good life. But sometimes you can do all the right (Stoic) things and still lose. Sometimes life is just okay. And other times, it’s downright awful. Perhaps Epictetus was able to remain in good cheer so long as his mind, if not his body, remained free while Xenophon could keep his chin up in the face of his son’s death, but for the rest of us non-sages, a surfeit of calamity can leave one feeling unmoored and dangerously adrift. In such circumstances, a good life can feel out of reach. In fact, the very act of striving for a good life can feel like another burden pulling you under the water. Fortunately, for most of us, calamity and catastrophe are few and far between. But sometimes, particularly this last year we’ve all been living through, life can be experienced as though it’s one trauma right after another. In such times, when a good life feels too far out of reach, the best you can do is hope Ovid was right when he wrote, “be patient and endure; someday this pain will be useful to you.” Enduring is no easy task, though. However, Stoicism can be something like a life vest when you’re drowning. I call this Stoicism for an Absurd Life.

PANEL. Karen Duffy, Kasey Pierce, Rocio de Torres and Kathryn Koromilas: Creative Stoics.

Neuroscientist Michael Grybko defines  ‘creativity’ as an idea that is novel, good, and useful.” Now, that’s a much saner definition of creativity than the one I inherited as an undergraduate pursuing literary heights via the Romantics, where creating literary fiction demanded more than hard work and a bit of talent—it demanded near-divine genius, supreme originality of style and voice, and emotional and mental pain and suffering. Creativity equated to misery.

But long before the Romantics and also now in recent years (refer to the work of Elizabeth Gilbert, for example, in Big Magic) there is gentler, kinder model for creativity and I think there’s something in Stoicism. 

Although the Stoics don’t offer us a comprehensive theory of creativity, what they offer those of us who seek to live a sane, joyful, good and meaningful creative life in community, is their own good practice.

In this panel discussion, we will focus on three key questions. The first is “What is creativity for?” – as we understand it as practising (and I mean that literally, practising) Stoics. The second question focuses on creativity and the self – does it help overcome hardship and help flourishing. The third question focuses on creativity and community. Stoic philosophy is not an inward-facing philosophy; not a self-centred, self-oriented philosophy (and creativity can sometimes feel like it just serves the self), Stoicism is a outward-facing philosophy, we want to live good lives in accordance with our nature, and by nature we mean that we are meant to live and create together, as Marcus Aurelius himself reminds us in Meditations 2.1.

Dr Alkistis Agio: Meditation to Connect with your Daimonion or Higher Self

Deep relaxation practices of consciously recognising and controlling our thoughts and dreams has been around for centuries. Since ancient Greek times, “Morpheus” the Greek god of Dreams was venerated. Aristotle, the Greek philosopher and scientist, (384-322 BC) who wrote about this practice in his works, (‘On Dreaming’ and ‘On Sleep and Waking’) was the first to note that the images and symbols we see in dream and myth speak directly to our subconscious. Hippocrates, (460-377BC) the Father of modern Medicine, praised induced dreaming and hypnosis for its benefits. Doctors today recommend daily practice of a deeply relaxing inner state, to help us manage stress and anxiety. Scientific studies have proven that in a relaxed state, the mind is more than 200% more receptive to suggestions than in an ordinary, conscious state. In this session, Alkistis guides attendees to a deeply-relaxed state so that her Greek philosophy lesson can be experienced on a soul level. Sit back, relax, and allow me to guide you to your inner temple of peace, love, healing where you will connect with your inner Goddess (Daimonion/Higher Self).

Sharon Lebell: How to live a philosophical life and how Stoicism helps to be a better musician and artist.

Being a human being isn’t easy. This is true especially if you feel called to a life that is more than a string of moments with an arbitrary ending, but instead to a complete life: one of passion, nobility, and worthy purpose. How easy it is to drift from our cherished principles, from our ideals, from the person we wish ourselves to be. We all drift, yet we can make a point of returning—any time— to our inner summons to what Stoics call a flourishing life. What is this flourishing life? What does it look like? Why would we set our sights on it? What does it actually feel like? How would you even know if you (or someone else) were flourishing? Choosing a philosophical life embraces these questions and points us to our own ennobling lived answers that transcend mere theory, ancient quotations, or step-wise method. The philosophical life’s genesis is deliberate innocence. We recognize the persistent disquiet that hovers around the edges of our daily experience. We step back from the fragility of our minds and the precarious sources of meaning to which we cling. We recognize our fears of death, of non-existence, of being all alone that we seek to keep at bay. We admit to our bewilderment, our chronic anxiety, and our insecurity in the face of overwhelming uncertainty. Choosing a philosophical life allows us to suspend, examine, and thereby see the insubstantiality and unnecessary burden of our soul’s turbulence, so that we can recalibrate our focus. We begin by freshly encountering ourselves and our experience from the vantage point of unencumbered wonder. It is from here that life’s majesty and beneficent possibilities reveal themselves. Wonder is the locus where inner travail gives way to abiding meaning and dignity. It is the beginning and the end of the philosophical life.