The Steps to Calm
Calm has a deep and natural appeal. Most of us long to be more patient, unruffled, at ease and capable of reacting with quiet good humour to life’s setbacks and irritants.
But most of us know very little about how to be calm. Anxiety stalks us through our days and nights. It thrums almost permanently in the background. It may even be with us now.
We have a tendency to look at agitation as something quasi-physical, as a bodily emanation and therefore as best addressed via physical mechanisms such as baths, teas or walks. But agitation is always in essence a mental phenomenon, it is a result of ideas – and a calm mind-set therefore relies on having to hand a raft of calming ideas that can be called upon in moments of panic.
This one-day workshop takes us on a structured journey around the best and most calming ideas. We learn, among other things, about:
- The Importance of Pessimism: we study the role of our expectations in determining what will infuriate us and what we can approach with equanimity.
- Pessimistic Resilience: we look at how a background fear that we won’t survive a negative outcome heightens anxiety - and is in fact almost always mistaken.
- Itemising Anxieties: we observe the beneficial role of listing anxieties rather than letting them float free in our consciousness.
- Accepting the Limits of Free Will: we consider how the belief that we are always free to change reality can become tyrannical, worsening many situations.
- Nature and Calm: we study why and how the natural world, particularly its sublime aspects, has a powerful role to play in restoring perspective.
- Intentionality and Agitation: we look at how easily we confuse the feeling of being wronged with the idea that someone meant to wrong us.
A calm life isn’t one that’s always perfectly serene. It is one where we are committed to calming down more readily, where we strive to have more realistic expectations, where we can understand better why certain problems are occurring, and be more adept at finding a consoling perspective.
Our progress may be limited and imperfect, but it is genuine - and this day of study provides invaluable and robust lessons that last a lifetime.
This one-day workshop brings together the best of The School of Life’s Self curriculum into a single high intensity session. You can explore our full curriculum here.
(Please be aware, The Steps to Calm contains material from the following individual classes: How to Be Serene and How to Enjoy Life).