stress reduction techniques

You’ve stood in a queue for a table at your favourite restaurant. Someone seemingly gets a table before you… You’re trying to sort out a delivery on the phone. You’re transferred from department to department, nothing is happening except the repeated “please hold the line, we really value your feedback”. Your friend is over 45 minutes late. No call. And the film is going to start.

Little things that make us feel tense – never mind the big stuff. The boss you can’t please, the landlord trying to double your rent. We feel agitated, vexed, inconvenienced, put out, stressed, frustrated, upset, powerless.

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Wanting to get somewhere near the world I dreamt of where I didn’t have to feel any of the above – I headed to Odiyana Meditation Centre for the Overcoming Anger course. I wanted to find out about the way out. Something in me knows that life could be less painful. The calming nature of the place hits you when you go in. Every meditation done there has left a little bit of peace in the air.

The classes are packed – great I’m not the only one, but how sad there’s so many of us. Our teacher is the most down to earth monk I’ve met (I haven’t met too many so that’s not hard – but hey this guy’s down to earth for a non-monk too).

We begin with meditation – straight into that busy cluttered mind we dive. Doing and thinking stillness is incredibly hard. I’m pretty sure enlightenment is going to take more then ten minutes.

Our teacher goes on to chat to us about life; he talks to us about things we know. Gradually he weaves in new ideas; questions for us to ponder, helping us see things differently and to think differently. Firstly we had to begin to notice just how much we get disrupted by what’s outside of us. We’re beginning to cultivate some internal peace. The idea is that we can call upon it in traffic jams, domestic altercations, family meals and moments of personal doubt.

There’s more stillness, and plenty of homework. But funnily enough you can’t wait to go and try out your patience on someone. There’s no immediate life altering experience, but for 10 dollars a session you can learn something that is likely to make you a happier more peaceful person. There’s a bit of religious ceremony chucked in which is interesting and not accompanied by any sort of conversion pressure.

By week three I can confirm that it works. This stuff is changing me. It’s a subtle slow kinda change that in moments of lowness looks like it’s not a change at all. But it’s there. The fundamental ideas that I’m being given to play with are world changing. Take the concept that you could let go of the idea that what’s happening right now, the thing you don’t like or want to change; you could let go of wanting it to be other than what it is. And with that thought the frustration, the niggle, the annoyance that was irking you persistently just floats off deflated.

Then after getting over that shock you can try out this one…a compliment feel’s soothing because you accept it. The words of praise are, like all others, “just air squeezed though meat”. If you could accept everything that came to you, you could feel the same about the compliment and the insult. You could be peaceful.

It’s going to take me a while, possible a lifetime, to work through the numerous what if’s and but how about’s, I’m pretty sure they’re hurtling through your head now too. But I find the class is good fodder and my soul feels nourished.

– Overcoming Anger & other courses are run by the Odiyana Buddhist Meditation Society; or call +65 6438 1127.

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