Our emotional lives are conflicted. On the one hand, our culture prizes emotional restraint. On the other, we show off how stressed we are to confirm our own personal significance. Beset by a host of social pressures, how can we retain our calm?
No one is calm all the time. A touch of fear and adrenaline can be critical to our survival and effective performance. However, many of us will at times experience more debilitating anxiety or simply a tendency to ‘lose it’. Is this part of our human condition or simply a sign of personal dysfunction?
We start with the writings of theologians and philosophers like Soren Kierkegaard and Paul Tillich who’ve argued that anxiety is intrinsic to our existence, a natural response to our freedom and the inevitability of death.
We then go on to explore two key relationships that we can improve – our relationship with the world, and our relationship with self. Drawing on survival stories, philosophy, mindfulness theory and the history of carnival, we examine ways in which we can achieve healthier emotional well-being and overall calm. What can the experiences of wilderness, beauty or tragedy teach us? And how can we find the courage to ‘take on’ the world if the source of our anxiety is not within us, but in specific, external causes of injustice or distress?
Above all, we’ll discover how anxiety can act as a doorway inviting us into greater personal freedom and well-being. We’ll discuss specific ways to engender equanimity and look at how, by learning to live with or even transcend anxiety, we can learn to live more authentic human lives.
Our classes have been designed to give useful insights around the big themes in life. You’ll be challenged to think deeply about the issues that matter most, and provided with a space to share your thoughts, ideas and experiences with other curious, open-minded individuals.
These sessions are designed by experts and taught by members of our faculty. They are limited to 28 people and include a mix of lecture and group activity and conversation. Optional homework is provided for those interested in further study.