Anger rooms are all the rage, according to an article in this week’s New York Times Style section that mentions three such places where people go to smash things. As one proprietor put it:
“That’s the cool thing about addressing an instinct, everyone’s got it.”
There’s nothing new in the understanding that venting rage in a safe environment is better for you than dumping it on someone or taking it out on the brand new flatscreen. The growing popularity of anger rooms reflects the world we live in today, a world where not only is awareness growing over how to deal with anger, but also where people are taking responsibility for themselves.
What if there’s another way of dealing with feelings of rage? Here’s what Osho says in response to a question about it:
How can I be aware during anger? This feeling is so strong it’s like thousands of wild horses are running away with me!
“Anger is a very small thing. If you can just wait and watch, you will not find ‘thousands of wild horses.’ If you can find even a small donkey, that will be enough! Just watch it and it will go, slowly. It will enter from this side and will go out from the other side. You just have to keep a little patience not to ride on it.
“Anger, jealousy, envy, greed, competitiveness… all our problems are very small, but our ego magnifies them, makes them as big as it can. The ego cannot do otherwise; its anger has also to be great. By its great anger, and great misery, and great greed, and great ambition it becomes great.
“But you are not the ego, you are only a watcher. Just stand by the side and let all the thousands of horses pass – let us see how long it takes for them to pass. There is no need to be worried. As they come – they are wild – they will go. But we don’t miss even a small donkey; we immediately jump on it! You don’t need thousands of wild horses. Just a small thing, and you are full of anger and fire. You will laugh about it later on, at how stupid you were.
“If you can watch, without getting involved, as if it is something on the screen of a movie house or of a TV screen… something is passing; watch it. You are not supposed to do anything to prevent it, to repress it, to destroy it, to pull out a sword and kill it, because from where will you get the sword? – from the same source as the anger is coming. It is all imagination.
“Just watch, and don’t do anything – for or against. And you will be surprised: that which was looking very big, becomes very small. But our habit is to exaggerate.
“A small boy comes home running, and tells his mother – he is not more than three years old – ‘Mum, a great lion, roaring loudly, was running after me for miles! But somehow I managed to escape. Many times he came very close. He was just about to attack me when I started running faster.’
“The mother looked at the boy and said, ‘Tommy, I have told you a million times not to exaggerate! How can you find a lion in the city… and you have been running for miles? And where is the lion?’
“The boy looked outside the door. He said, ‘He is standing there. But, to tell you the truth, it is just a small dog – very small! But when it was running after me, it appeared…. You tell me not to exaggerate, and right now you have been exaggerating that you have told me millions of times.’
“Our minds are very exaggerating. You have small problems, and if you can stop exaggerating and just see, then by the door a poor small dog is standing. And there is no need to run miles; your life is not in danger.
“When anger comes to you, it is not going to kill you. It has been with you many times before, and you have survived perfectly well. It is the same anger that you have been through before. Just do one thing new – which you have never done; every time you get involved with it, fighting. This time just watch, as if it does not belong to you, as if it is somebody else’s anger. And you are in for a great surprise: it will disappear within seconds.
“And when anger disappears without any struggle, it leaves behind it a tremendously beautiful and silent and loving state.
“The same energy that could have become a fight with the anger is left within you. Pure energy is delight – I am quoting William Blake: ‘Energy is delight’ – just energy, without any name, without any adjective…. But you never allow energy to be pure. Either it is anger, or hate, or love, or greed, or desire. It is always involved in something; you never allow it in its purity.
“Every time anything arises in you, is a great chance to experience pure energy. Just watch, and the donkey will go. It may raise a little dust, but that dust also settles on its own; you don’t have to settle it. You simply wait. Don’t move from waiting and watching, and soon you will find yourself surrounded by a pure energy that has not been used in fighting, in repressing, or in being angry.
“And energy is certainly delight. Once you know the secret of delight, you will enjoy every emotion; and every emotion arising in you is a great opportunity.
“Just watch, and bring a shower of delight on your being. Slowly, slowly all these emotions will disappear; they will not come any more – they don’t come uninvited. Watchfulness, or alertness, or awareness, or consciousness, are all different names of the same phenomenon: witnessing. That is the key word.”
Osho, The Invitation, Talk #4