Life has been hard lately. Between going through a divorce and my daughter having some challenging behavior I’ve had a lot to cope with. One emotion that I’m not comfortable with is anger. I hate the way I feel when I’m angry. I feel unbalanced, highly anxious and the whole world looks different when anger comes into the picture. I know this is how it is for everyone – anger clouds our judgment and gives us a distorted view of reality. That’s why I really try to let anger go. But lately, with everything I’ve been going through, I’m finding that I’m struggling more than usual with easily letting angry thoughts go.
I’ve been going to Buddhist meditation classes in my town for the past 3 years and I’ve learned so much about the meaning of life and the kind of person I want to be. The past few months I haven’t been getting to class very often but I decided to go to the Sunday morning class this past weekend because they also had a children’s class so I could bring my daughter. I was also intrigued by the topic of the class which was The Practice of Non-Hatred. Not that I hate anyone, I really don’t but I was craving words of advice about coping with negative feelings.
So my girl and I went and she separated from me to go to the children’s class. The adults stayed in the room and immediately went into a meditation. As I’m sitting there, eyes closed, working on letting go of distracting thoughts, I hear the man from the children’s room say “I’ll find your mommy” and somehow I knew that was going to mean me. My daughter didn’t want to be in the children’s room without me so I begrudgingly went to her class with her instead of listening to the teaching that I really wanted to hear.
As it turned out, I got exactly the lesson I needed right there among the class of kids. The topic of their class was letting go of anger and the teacher had them engage in two activities. The first was coloring in a paper with a stop sign on it. They were told they should put it somewhere where they frequently find they’re angry – like near the TV if their sibling often takes away the remote, as a way to remind themselves to stop the anger before their fire grows. The advice they were given on how to stop the anger was to sit down and work on calming their minds. That’s great advice not just for kids but adults too (me included).
The second activity had an even greater impact. The teacher explained that she and her daughter have what they call a “Buddha coin.” It’s a special coin that they can pull out when they start to feel too angry, or if the other person is acting out of anger and needs a reminder to slow down and breathe. I love the visualization of this and the symbolic reminder about the importance of calming our minds to help the anger dissolve. My daughter made one with a purple jewel (just a penny that we decorated) and when we got home we made two more so mommy and daddy can have one as well.
It’s funny how things work out sometimes. I went to the adult class hoping to hear the lesson I needed only to really get it from the children’s class. And I’m so glad I did. I know that I can’t feel inner peace when anger starts to bubble up and while it’s a constant challenge to let anger go, it was great to get the affirmation I needed that I’m doing the right thing by trying to not let life’s challenges greatly impact my happiness.