Methods for the Development and Training of the Will

Physical Activities

Manual Labor – Gymnastics – Rhythmic Movements



Some conditioning exercises designed for self defence, fighting, and armed or unarmed combat provide very physical activities for training determination and the Will. It must be noted that the exercises for such training have a medium to high risk for injury due to the physical nature. All efforts should be made to ensure safety comes first, and injuries or accidents are minimised. It is a good opportunity to remind participants that they are responsible for their own behaviour, and must control their aggression and physical actions to maintain safety, while at the same time being fully committed and determined in everything they do.

Exercise: Irresistible force versus immovable object

A physical formulation of the Irresistible force paradox: “What happens when an irresistible force meets an immovable object?”

Objective: To test and increase participants’ determination by giving them an impossible task, whereby only one person can meet the objective.

Method: The exercise involves one person running from a start point towards a set goal point (a wall, a marked line, or a placed object such as cone or piece of cloth) a short distance away. Another person will stand in front of the goal and attempt to stop them by tackling, grappling, and restraining them. Rules and protective equipment can be varied depending on the nature of the training. It is possible for there to be one runner and a multiple people trying to stop them, similar to Bullrush, although without the group in the middle choosing who runs – everyone takes a turn.

  • Person organising the exercise will state the to runner, “You will make it to the other side/goal” and to the person opposing this, “You will stop him/her.”
  • Runner will charge as fast as they can towards the goal, which will be guarded by an opponent or opponents. They will use all means and skills within the rules they have been given, but rely primarily on a singled-minded determination that they will reach their goal. They may use affirmation while running, such as “I will make it”, “I will reach my goal”, etc.
  • The person or group attempting to stop the runner will use all means within the rules of the game to stop the runner, such as tackling, grappling, and restraining. As with the runner this person may repeat affirmations, such as “I will stop him/her” etc.
  • The turn only ends under the following conditions:
  1. the runner reaches the goal
  2. the runner gives up
  3. the runner is successfully restrained for a period of time without being able to move
  4. the runner is dragged back to the starting point (meaning they were unable to continue their forward travel)
  • Roles are reversed, or the next pair take their turn.


  • It is possible to ritualise this exercise more. Both participants can be given time to formulate their goal, visualize it, and essentially ‘psyche’ themselves up before the run.
  • Remember though that this is more a rugged physical test of determination than of skill, so a predetermined plan is not necessary.

Useless Exercises

‘THE WILL’ can only be developed when there is an AIM. Without an AIM there can be NO WILL.

Examples of AIMS which WILL is commonly applied to appear below…

‘I will be successful.’ ‘I will make my marriage last.’ ‘I will stop smoking.’

More interesting, perhaps, higher lever AIMS could be…

‘I WILL keep my attention fixed.’ ‘I WILL remember myself.’ ‘I WILL move that object.’

The problem of WILL and AIM is confounded by a lack of understanding of the term’I’

The full problem of WILL development therefore appears below…


or X + Y = Z where we do not know X or Y or Z!

Use of External Aids: Words and Phrases – Images – Music

Concentration – Meditation – Invocation


I believe there is an important correlation between trance states and the Will. If you take into account that trance states can often narrow awareness, limit choices, and be used against one’s Will (or to assist one’s Will) – e.g. through hypnosis – then the understanding of trance states in relation to the Will becomes critical. My current beliefs relating to trance states make use of the Trance Model outlined by Dennis Wier (see A Suggested Model for Trance by Dennis Wier. I have read & reviewed Dennis Wier’s books Trance: from magic to technology (review) and The Way of Trance (review) and when time allows I will write some more regarding Trance and Will. The notes on this site for the books have some direct quotes relating to the Will. Graeme 20:37, 2 July 2007 (EDT)


See also: Will Exercises

  • The Observer Exercise by John W. Cullen. A variation of an exercise published in Synthesis, Vol.1, No.2, by James Vargiu. While not directly a “Will” exercise it contains an experiential aspect in the suggest that “[Y]our body … feelings, and … mind … are your valuable means of expression in the world, and you have the capacity to direct and regulate them at will.”
  • Evocative Words exercise has suggestions to use “Goodwill” and “Will” as Transpersonal Qualities to meditate on.
  • Growth Exercises has a small visual exercises under the heading Psychosynthesis, subheading Training the Will.
  • Will Exercises from “The Work”, part of the Fourth Way teachings of Gurdjieff and Ouspensky
  • The Avatar Basic Will Course by Harry Palmer has a number of exercises:
    • Exercise 1: Awakening the Will – “To decrease mind drift, daydreaming, self-criticism, indoctrinated thinking, by awakening the will.”
    • Exercise 2: Disciplining the Will – “To place the control of attention.”
    • Exercise 3: Taking Control – “To identify motivating forces on automatic and take control of them.”
    • Exercise 4: Conquering Worry – “To recover source.”
    • Exercise 5: Willful Control – “To place behavior under the control of the transcendent will.”
  • Will Power Exercises An article by Remez Sasson on will power and self discipline, with exercises.

Affirmation – Command


  • Thelemic Saying Will is a short ritual practiced by many Thelemites before meals, serving a similar purpose as saying Grace does for many Christians. It is intended to maintain the focus by reminding them that even so mundane an act as eating a meal is an essential part of The Great Work.

Creative Activities

Co-creative Group Suggestions

The following is based on work carried out by the co-creative group on the Will Project during the International Congress of Psychosynthesis in Canada from 11 to 15 September 1998. Initially this is provided to give some form of structure to pages. Please edit freely.

  1. Link with the co-creative group of movement
    1. Discover the will through physical movement
    2. Reinforce the direction of the will through physical movement
    3. Develop physical meditations (mudras or stances) for each quality in order to bring the qualities to conscious awareness (see Qualities of the Will 2. above)
  2. Link with the co-creative group of education
    1. Develop a curriculum of the will for all age levels
    2. Develop a curriculum of the will for parents to use with infants and toddlers
    3. Review Diana Whitmore’s book on psychosynthesis and education for references to the will
  3. Compile annotated references to existing exercises on development of the will (from existing psychosynthesis material)
  4. Develop mental exercises to develop the will
    1. Affirmations
    2. Concentrations
    3. Meditation instructions
    4. Suggestions for reflective meditations
    5. Creative activities
  5. Develop the use of external aids for the development of the will (architecture, music, art, etc)
    1. Prepare bibliography of related music to and subdivide it for various aspects of the will
    2. Compile examples of architecture related to aspects/qualities of the will and write a related article
    3. Collect examples of art related to aspects/qualities of the will and write a related article
    4. Write an illustrated article of examples of existing symbols of the will
    5. For the Bologna 2000 conference, sponsor a creative competition for new symbols of the will
  6. Use the internet to train the will
  7. Develop self-scoring instrument (or an exercise) to aid reflection on and discovery of areas of aversion and affinity (what methods are attractive to an individual? What methods are unappealing?)
  8. Write an article on the use of all methods of developing the will to achieve self-actualization/self-realization
  9. For the Bologna 2000 conference, prepare a Room of the Will in which people swim in the will
  10. Further develop this section of the outline to focus on each the general areas of methodology suggested by Assagioli
  11. Develop a publishable workbook for the development of the will

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