The inappropriate expression of anger is very prevalent in our world today, therefore I thought I would attempt to address it on the individual level. Let's explore how mindfulness can help with angry responses.
We experience anger most often when we feel threatened in some way, it can be physical, emotional or spiritual. We all experience angry moments throughout our lives, it is a common human emotion. Lately, in our world anger seems to be very visible. When there is so much anger in the news and in our lives it is challenging to not get caught by it. Depending on the issue it can trigger our personal wounds which makes it even more difficult and can even be re-traumatizing. When we are skillful in dealing with our anger it can lead to useful changes in our personal lives and in the world.
Mindfulness teaches us to work with anger skillfully. Therefore, of course, the first step is to notice. Where does anger present itself in the body? Do you know? If not, next time anger arises pause, notice where the angry feeling is located. This is vitally important as our body holds much wisdom. Then you can say, OH! This is anger! Some may feel their fists clench, the stomach tighten into a knot, jaws may clench, etc. What is it for you? Once you establish how your body responds to anger you can then move on to the next step.
Holding anger in or ‘stuffing it down’ researchers suggest is associated with increased risk of heart disease. Expressing anger unskillfully only increases angry feelings and hurts others. Men (of course, the study was done on men!!) who coped with their anger by almost always holding onto it or always expressing it outwardly had significantly higher total cholesterol and “bad” LDL cholesterol levels than men who were flexible in dealing with their anger. This may be due to a rigidly way of being in life.
Now women are often taught to control their anger and never express it. (not true in my family of origin, but it is in many) For many women it would be helpful to learn and identify when you are feeling angry, you truly may not know. That is why it is most useful to listen to the messages of the body.
Often we react to anger in a way that resonates with our upbringing. How was anger expressed or not expressed in your childhood? Emotions want to be heard, not feared or stuffed down or acted out in ways that are harmful. Therefore I invite you to allow the emotional states to teach you, recognize them, honor them and allow them to flow thru your state of being like clouds moving by in a breezy sky.
So next time you sense your body reacting as anger, I invite you to PAUSE. Truly stop and notice the sensations within. Then gently inquire about this anger, what is it about? How do you want to respond? Responding with out of control anger is never useful and most often harmful. When we take the time to pause, we can respond skillfully and often positively affect the outcome. The key is to begin to RESPOND rather than react in a habitual manner. Victor Frankl reminds us that, “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lie our growth and freedom.” Bringing awareness is the key to cultivating this space for a response.
I often use the phrase: body.mind.heart.spirit because all these states are connected and truly are one. Anger affects all these places. If you are dealing with angry feelings, please know they are normal. If you would like to begin healing strong emotional states please contact me for a session. Both mindfulness training and nondual healings are effective for working with this.
Take time to pause today