#1293 Heroic Meditation

Breath + Heroes + Virtues + Stillness + Quest

In our last +1, we talked about my new Heroic Mantra Meditation practice.

Our one-word mantra?


On the inhale…

Areté. Areté. Areté.

On the exhale.

Areté. Areté. Areté.


I actually came up with that idea while rowing. I paused the workout on my ol’ Suunto watch, went into the house, grabbed my batphone (that I use for offline/deep work mode stuff like this), and wrote that +1.

Then I got back to my workout. And started repeating my mantra.


Today I want to chat about my Heroic Meditation practice.

Nearly every day in the 18+ months after I founded Heroic, I meditated for an hour every morning. The connection I felt with my daimon and our Heroic vision has been GREATLY enhanced from the practice.

Here’s the Heroic meditation I created. You can make it work in as little as 3 minutes.

With VERY rare exceptions, I meditate at the same time every morning: right after I get up.

I repeat: Reduce the variability of your behavior to create sustainable habit change!

I start each session with breathwork. Then I invite a few of my top heroes to join me and share some wisdom for the day. Then I walk through our virtue compass in my mind. Then I reconnect to our Heroic vision.

Then I go dominate the day. 🤓

Let’s start with the breathwork.

Actually, let’s start with our posture. As we discussed in Meditation 101 and our Notes on Jon Kabat-Zinn’s great book Wherever You Go, There You Are, the fastest way to find the right posture is to sit with dignity.

Chest up. Chin down. Pull a thread through your head. You’re poised yet relaxed.

In a word: You are sitting with DIGNITY.

Like royalty.

That’s a brilliant way to invite the best, most Heroic and noble version of yourself to the party.

Then we take a nice, deep, quiet, relaxing breath. In through our nose. Down into our bellies. Back out through our nose. Slightly longer exhale than inhale.

That’s the fastest way to flip the switch on our parasympathetic nervous system, get out of fight-or-flight and connect to our daimons.

I practice a version of that breath for a minute or three or eleven, depending on the length of my meditation.

Then I invite my heroes to join me.

I have Heroic portraits of 22 of my favorite heroes on my wall.

On one wall I have large portraits of Ralph Waldo Emerson, Epictetus, Marcus Aurelius, Steve Jobs, Joseph Campbell, and Phil Stutz. And… I have a Heroic portrait of ME—to remind me to try to live up to the best within me.

On another wall I have slightly smaller portraits. Five columns with three heroes in each column, representing different wisdom traditions and qualities I aspire to embody.

On the far left, I have Jesus, Saint Ignatius, and Mother Teresa—representing my Catholic upbringing and a commitment to Love and embracing the universal truths of ALL faith traditions.

Then I have Confucius, Epictetus (again!), and John Wooden—representing my commitment to a disciplined approach to life and the moral charisma that emanates from that integrity.

Then I have Aristotle, Viktor Frankl, and Abraham Maslow—representing the integration of ancient wisdom and modern science in the form of three intellectual/philosophical heroes of mine.

Then I have Alexander the Great, Gandhi, and Martin Luther King, Jr—representing leaders who embodied Soul Force in their own idiosyncratic, iconoclastic way: Alexander conquered the impossible in the material world while Gandhi conquered the impossible in the spiritual (and material!) world.

Then I have Eleanor Roosevelt, Winston Churchill and Dwight D Eisenhower—representing Heroic war-time leaders as symbols for the internal war between vice and virtue we each must mindfully wage every day.

I ask a few (or all!) of them for a pithy piece of wisdom for that day.

Emerson tells me to trust myself. And he reminds me to always (always always!) do the thing I’m afraid to do.

Epictetus tells me to practice my philosophy and to make The Choice of Hercules—not someday but TODAY.

Aurelius tells me to play my role well and to remember The Inner Citadel.

Jobs tells me to create something insanely great.

Campbell tells me that we train heroes and reminds me that the demon you can swallow gives you its power.

Phil tells me to conquer the impossible and reminds me that Speed Is a Force.

I have connected with those heroes of mine so many times that I can literally hear their voices in my head as I created this +1. Every morning I commit to living in integrity with their wisdom and their example.

It’s hard to put into words how much I believe this practice has changed my life.

The questions for you are…

Who are YOUR heroes?

What wisdom would they like to share with you?

Would you be a better human being if you consistently reflected on and acted in integrity with those questions and answers?


After a quick trip through my heroes—which can take as little as a minute or as long as 11—I reflect on the core virtues of our virtue compass.

Wisdom. Self-Mastery. Courage. Love.

Hope. Gratitude. Curiosity. Zest.

The first set includes the four cardinal virtues of every major ancient wisdom tradition.

The second set includes the virtues modern science says are most highly correlated with our flourishing.

After silently saying each virtue, I go through the declaration for each virtue.

Wisdom. I know the ultimate game and how to play it well.

Self-Mastery. I have structural, reactive, and expansive discipline.

Courage. I am willing to act in the presence of fear.

Love. I am joyful, grateful, and encouraging.

Hope. I have an inspiring goal, agency, and pathways.

Gratitude. I appreciate all the blessings in my life.

Curiosity. I pay attention to what’s working and what needs work.

Zest. I dominate my fundamentals so I have Heroic energy.

I can zip through that in a minute or three or take my time and imagine each for eleven minutes.

Then I quiet my mind. And enjoy the silence. That can last from a minute to thirty minutes.

Finally, I imagine a world in which 51% of humanity is flourishing by 2051.

I see my Soul Force at 101 and commit to doing everything I can to help YOU get YOUR Soul Force to 101.

Then I imagine 1M of us getting our Soul Force to 101 so we can fulfill our mission and change the world, one person at a time, together, starting with you and me.


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