Friday, November 8, 2013
Dealing with everyday stress ( Elder Paisios )
Today's life is full of stress. What is it that makes it this way? We seem to have all the comforts we could possibly imagine. Even in the most well off people there is still this sense of anxiety and busyness. Is it our worldly comforts that are the culprit?
Elder Paisios offers some thoughts on this subject. He is direct in saying, yes, it is these worldly pleasures that are at the root of the problem.
Worldly stress is the result of worldly happiness, of worldly pleasures and self-indulgence. Educated externally and being full of anxiety, hundreds of people (even young children) are driven to psychoanalysis and psychiatrists. New psychiatric hospitals are being built and young psychiatrists go on for post-graduate studies. Many of them do not even believe in God or accept the existence of the soul. How can these people help the human soul when they themselves are full of anxiety? How can one feel truly comforted if he does not believe in God and in the true and eternal life after death? When man grasps the deeper meaning of this true life, stress goes away, divine consolation comes and he is healed...The answer to our anxiety is not drugs, alcohol, tranquilizers or psychiatric treatment. It will not be cured by Yoga or some new age or eastern meditation practice. The problem is that we have lost God as the center of our lives. Once we make our love of God the primary focus of our lives and allow His grace to work though us, then no matter what circumstance we encounter in life we will be comforted and embraced in His love. All anxiety disappears. This is the aim of the Orthodox way of life––To put God first and seek the Holy Spirit. The anxieties of modern life are only symptoms of our separation from God.
Saint Theophan the Recluse adds the following about anxiety:
Are you thinking of arranging your life on your own, through your own efforts and abilities, as if that was what you were told? Take a look, and if this is indeed the case, rush to correct it. With this attitude you will not get rid of your confusion....Seek the help of your spiritual father, participate int he sacraments of the Church, follow the fasting guidelines, read holy Scripture daily, and have a firm rule of daily prayer.
Reference: With Pain and Love for Contemporary Man, p 167-168