Posts filed under ‘Age of Anxiety’

Your possessions or your life? Which is more important?

Last August, a British businessman in severe financial difficulties, Christopher Foster, killed his wife Jill and daughter Kirstie, 15, before burning down his £ 1.2m mansion and in the process killing himself. Foster had assets of £ 3m and debts of £ 4.4m and he could not face the threat of becoming bankrupt and losing everything he had. He told associates that his wife and daughter could not cope if they were forced to downgrade their lifestyle. During successful times Foster had owned Ferraris, Porsches, a Bentley and a Range Rover.

I find it incredibly sad that a family has to die rather than face poverty. Ok, no one wants to be poor, but it’s not really the end of the world, certainly not something to die rather than face up to. People have a strange idea of what they need their children to have in order to be happy, as if money will make us happy. We see all around us that money provides neither happiness nor security. I remember reading once about the actress Melanie Griffith who was desperate that she had to make enough money to leave each of her children many millions of dollars so that she could secure their future, as if money would do this for them.

But money alone will not give us security and riches do not give satisfaction. True security and real wealth come from within, and cannot be found from externals. This is what the philosophers in all ages East and West have told us, yet every new generation that comes along seems to get it wrong and makes the same mistakes. The credit crunch we are living through has been created entirely by human greed seeking ever more money in an endless search for satisfaction that can never be attained.

April 19, 2009 at 3:33 pm Leave a comment

The Age Of Anxiety – a Mini Vacation For The Mind

Seneca, the Roman statesman and Philosopher, said that you can go on holiday to get away from everything, but the one thing you can’t get away from is your self.

It’s even worse when you have serious financial problems, because then not only can’t you afford a holiday, but your problems relentlessly crowd around you, giving you no room to breathe or manoeuvre. Financial worries, with creditors literally breathing down our necks, give us no respite from the pressure of owing money and feeling helpless about being unable to repay. We feel lost by not having a way to deal with our situation. Fear and anxiety take over.

The guided meditation I have created – called The Age of Anxiety- is designed to be a kind of mini-vacation for the mind. For 30 odd minutes you can transport yourself out of constant worry and take a break that truly refreshes: a short therapeutic holiday for the self.

But this isn’t just a form of oblivion. That’s what people use sex and drink and drugs for: to temporarily take the self away from its current state of mind and forget the thoughts and feelings that obsess us. But once these short-term fixes wear off, we are in a worse state than before- more unstable and weaker – and even less capable of dealing with the harsh reality we face. This is not the solution.

In my experience the only thing to do with financial problems is not to seek oblivion so we can forget them, or to hide the credit card statements in the drawer so we can deny the problems exist, but to face them head on and deal with them, as painful as that might seem. It’s not easy but I’m afraid it’s the only solution.

You have to have the courage to look directly at the situation you are in, and to admit to yourself what the worst possible outcome might be. To accept that outcome, even if it means losing your house, or down-shifting your life-style to poverty levels, is the only way you can deal adequately with your problems. If you can do that, you might find that the worst outcome can be avoided, and that the situation can be resolved in a better and unexpected way. But you can only do this by accepting that the worst possible outcome may be the one that you have to live with. From this position of Ground Zero you can build.

This meditation has been designed to help you deal with your problems. It won’t make them go away, but it can give you a fresh perspective on your life that can help you to deal more effectively with your fears and problems. For 30 minutes or so, it can take you out of yourself, get you away from the constant harassment of your fear and insecurity, and give you a breathing space to find new strength to deal with your problems. The meditation offers some affirmations that can increase your innate capacity to deal with adversity. Finally, it offers a new vision of how you can relate to the universe at large, which can broaden your perspective of who you are and how you currently operate in the world.

I hope you give it a try, and I look forward to hearing how you get on

April 13, 2009 at 9:20 am Leave a comment

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The Blog That Fell From The Sky

Reflections on an age of anxiety.