How to be Serene - English Class / Virtual Class

You can experience The School of Life from your home by joining our programme of virtual classes. Classes are delivered via Zoom and feature expert teachers, enlightening content, interactive exercises with other participants, practical guidance, comfort and consolation.


Our emotional lives are conflicted.


On the one hand, our culture prizes emotional restraint. On the other, we engage in ‘competitive stress’, showing 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, and 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 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.


Above all, we’ll discover how anxiety can act as a doorway inviting us into greater personal freedom and well-being.




Why should I attend?

Few life skills are as neglected, yet as important, as the ability to remain calm. Our very worst decisions and interactions are almost invariably the result of a loss of calm - and a descent into anxiety and agitation. Surprisingly, but very fortunately, our power to remain calm can be rehearsed and improved.

We don't have to remain where we are now: our responses to everyday challenges can dramatically alter. We can educate ourselves in the art of remaining calm not through slow breathing or special teas but through thinking. This is a class that patiently unpacks the causes of our greatest stresses and gives us a succession of highly persuasive, beautiful and sometimes dryly comic arguments with which to defend ourselves against panic and fury.


What will I learn?

How to Be Serene teaches:

  • Many of the things we become angry about are neither random nor vain.

  • The things we worry about are obscure yet critical signals about what may be amiss in our lives.

  • We should not try to deny or neuter anxiety or rage, but learn to interpret it more skilfully.



Gavin is a writer from England. He has written several books and articles, as well as scripts for both screen and stage. The last book he wrote was for Wei Te-Sheng, one of  Taiwan’s most prestigious movie directors. The book is currently being adapted into a musical animation for the big screen. 


For the past six years that he has been in Taiwan, Gavin has also been teaching English, and has had the rare pleasure of being an extra in several movies and short films, one of which was Martin Scorsese’s Silence. 


Gavin has practiced meditation and mindfulness for nearly twenty years, and just before coming to Taiwan he was a guest speaker at an International Day of Happiness event in England. At around the same time, he ran his hometown’s first Death Cafe, which brought people together to talk openly about all things related to death, whilst enjoying tea, coffee, and cake. This was a great success.


He is also a trained bereavement support worker with Cruse Bereavement Support. He is currently busy completing diplomas in mindfulness, CBT, meditation teacher training, and end of life care. He enjoys reading and helping his wife pot plants. (If there was a diploma in the latter, he would take that too.) He and his wife dream of living in the countryside, with a garden, and two dogs. 

How to be Serene - English Class / Virtual Class

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