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29 April 2024

Anger made me learn to meditate

Gwynneth Moffatt

Gwynneth Moffatt

Are you angry?

In 2001 a small newspaper advert caught the attention of a rather angry and exasperated single mother - trying to stay sane in an increasingly difficult situation.
It said: ‘Are you angry? Would you like to find some peace in difficult circumstances?’ – or something along these lines…. It was 23 years ago! The advert was for a series of 5 meditation sessions being held in a Quaker Meeting House in Hull town centre. I made it to only one: but at that session, we were invited to a Christmas party being held at the Buddhist Centre in Hull and as my children were to be with their father over that time, I decided to take a risk and go. I have never looked back!

Gentle encouragement

I found the Centre rather alien to begin with. Brought up in the Church of England, the presence of so many statues made me uncomfortable. The gentle encouragement of the Resident Teacher allowed me to come to understand their importance and significance at my own pace. My favourite quotation of hers was – and still is – ‘Take what you find useful from the teachings, and leave aside anything that you cannot accept at present.’

For a few years, I was a regular at the weekly meditation classes. Attending residential retreats organised by my local centre, at Tara International Kadampa Retreat Centre and Madhyamaka Kadampa Meditation Centre, brought me peace and healing.

Deepening my connection

As my knowledge and understanding grew, I went further afield with companions from Khedrubje Buddhist Centre to visit Manjushri Kadampa Meditation Centre in the Lake District, and to International Buddhist Festivals in Paris and Portugal, where I formed a strong connection with Buddha Prajnaparamita through the teachings I received. I met interesting and inspiring people from far and near: I was astonished to meet groups of people who saved up for years to come to International Festivals at Manjushri Kadampa Meditation Centre from Brazil and all over America.



In the beginning, I felt a little guilty going away for a few days, usually an extended weekend, leaving my children in the care of others. But I came to see retreat as a form of self-care, a bit like the advice given in safety briefings on aircraft: put your own oxygen mask on first in an emergency so that you can then help everyone else. You can’t help anyone if you have passed out yourself!

I later involved my children, taking them to the ‘Dharma for Families’ events at Khedrubje Buddhist Centre and at various Kadampa Meditation Centres in the UK.

anger is very damaging

Training to recognise and control my abundant anger is an ongoing process. To begin with, I learnt to simply observe what was happening: what circumstances led to my eruptions? How did they develop? At what stage could I exercise any kind of control?

The next stage was to fully take on board the effects of anger on my health and well-being. Was it really exhilarating to get angry? Is it genuinely a motivator, pushing me to get things done? It is difficult to go against common wisdom that tells us that unleashing our anger is cathartic and helps us to take necessary action to right wrongs and achieve our goals.

Stepping back, in meditation, and observing my mind and actions I have come to the conclusion that anger is actually very damaging. It makes me feel physically ill and very objectionable to those around me. I have also found that the actions I take when in full flow of an angry tirade are usually very wrong and lead to further problems and damage. So I continue to watch my reactions to the occurrences in my life and try to counter them with patience and compassion. After all, those around me are struggling as much as I am to achieve happiness, and are less well-equipped than I am, thanks to the Dharma, to gain it.


Finding peace and contentment

I now enjoy and derive great benefit from studying on the Foundation Programme. On the General Programme, you can come and go as you wish; the Foundation Programme is for those who are ready to go a bit deeper and commit to regular in-depth study of Buddha’s teachings.

I have found that Buddhism answers questions that nothing else does. I still have great respect for the faith I was brought up in and admire genuine love and compassion wherever I encounter it. But Buddhism has brought me a level of peace and contentment that I certainly did not have before I went to that session in the Quaker Meeting House all those years ago!

Share Your Dharma Journey

If you have a personal story about the positive impact of Dharma in your life and would like to share it with the community, please feel free to reach out to us. You can submit your story by emailing it to [email protected]. We look forward to hearing from you and sharing your inspiring journey with others.