Meditate Your Way Through Anger.

Via on May 3, 2013

anger fear relationships

Anger can be an effective expression of passion for justice and fairness, for basic rightness, for what is appropriate and humane.

But anger can also be like a single match that can burn an entire forest, causing tremendous damage and hurt. It causes wars, leads to greed and self-deception. The fallout can be huge and, invariably, we have no control over the repercussions.

There is a lot of anger flying around right now with political warring over guns, economic cut backs, and the continuing job crisis. But we needn’t let anger rule our system, as seen in Nelson Mandela’s response to Bill Clinton soon after Mandela’s release. Clinton asked him if he was angry the day he walked away from twenty-seven years in jail. “Surely,” Clinton said, “You must have felt some anger?” Mandela agreed that, yes, alongside the joy of being free, he had also felt great anger. “But,” he said, “I valued my freedom more, and I knew that if I expressed my anger I would still be a prisoner.”

Although we may have a right to be angry, retaliation just gets us into further negativity. For Mandela, as for all of us, getting angry is playing the same game, and results in the catchphrase, ‘two wrongs don’t make a right.’

As Michael Beckwith says in our book, Be the Change: “Rev James Lawson, who was a cohort of Dr. Martin Luther King, shared with me an experience when he and Dr. King were sitting in an auditorium and a man came up and said to Dr. King, ‘Are you MLK Jr.?’ When he said yes the man spat on him. Dr. King took a handkerchief, took the spittle off of his suit, and handed it back to the man saying, ‘I think this belongs to you.’ He didn’t hit the man, he didn’t cuss the man out, he didn’t say how dare you, he had this ability to just be in the moment.” Or, psychotherapist Deepesh Faucheaux says, Ducks don’t do anger. Ducks fight over a piece of bread and then they just swim away.

In its passion, anger pushes away, condemns, and makes everything wrong except itself.

Our heart goes out of reach and we lose touch with our feelings. There’s no compromise, no chance for dialogue, just I am right and you are wrong. And yet we are the ones who suffer the most, particularly from the affects of anger within our own minds, hearts and bodies.

Trying to eradicate anger is like trying to box with our own shadow: it doesn’t work. Getting rid of it implies either expressing it and creating untold emotional damage, denying its existence, or repressing it until it erupts at a later time. Making friends with anger is essential. This is growing roses out of rotting compost, transforming fire into constructive action, using the passion but without the destruction.

We need to go beneath the anger to see what hurt, longing or fear is trying to make itself heard. It is often a big cry for love, as we have lost our connectedness with each other and are trying to find a way to reconnect. Or there can be feelings of rejection, grief, or loneliness. So if we repress anger or pretend it isn’t there then all these other feelings get repressed and ignored as well.

By naming and recognizing the many faces of anger, we can stay present with it as it arises, keeping the heart open, breathing, watching emotions come up and pass through. Meditation is the best way to do this as it creates the space to step back from the passion, breathe, and objectively see what is at the root of the feeling. Often we realize it has little to do with another person but more to do with our expectations and needs.

Meditation not only invites us to witness anger, but also to get to know and make friends with ourselves. It gives us a midpoint between expressing anger and repressing it, a place where we can be aware of our feelings and not be swept away by them. Meditation is not going to make all our challenges go away but it does enable us to rest in an inclusive acceptance of who we are.

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Ed: Kate Bartolotta

About Ed & Deb Shapiro

Award-Winning Authors Ed and Deb of Be The Change, How Meditation can Transform You and the World, are mindfulness, meditation and yoga experts. Deb’s new novel: Merging: Women in Lovewhat happens when you fall in love with the least likely person of the least likely gender?—and she is the author of Your Body Speaks Your Mind, now in 19 languages. They have three meditation CDs. See more at their website

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5 Responses to “Meditate Your Way Through Anger.”

  1. Muks says:

    Thanks for this article. Yesterday I did some HR paperwork after having worked a previously agreed number of hours. The admin lady told me that according to the University rules they can only pay xy hours, no matter how many hours are worked. After talking to her calmly and directly and then leaving I got so angry! How unfair and illegal this is!! It has been difficult to handle the feelings. Accepting and feeling them was the first big step. Let me try meditating. It does not mean I get soft and accept this behaviour. It means that I can enjoy my weekend and do something about the payment when I am able to do so.

  2. Ed & Deb Shapiro ed shapiro says:

    Hey Muks,
    Meditating helps give us the space, the awareness that we don't have to become the anger. We can see the injustice & not become the injustice. We can say what we feel but not let it disturb our peace.
    Treasure yourself,
    Ed

  3. Alanna Lee says:

    This is exactly what I needed. Without going into details, I will affirm that the anger I have expressed has only made things worse emotionally for myself, as the expression of my anger seems to tear apart my soul in a way that doesn't seem salvageable, or healable. Anger makes things go from bad, to worse, to the point where you want to run away from yourself but can't. So then you keep repeating the same pattern, wreaking havoc in your life, until there isn't anywhere else to go than to return home (metaphorically speaking). And of course, as outlined in this article, the anger I was expressing was only a direct result of my own deeply-rooted anguish and desire to feel cherished and loved. I am so grateful that your article mapped out another way for me to exist in the world. I needed the clarity that your message brought to my heart, and an alternative to how I can coexist with my emotional disposition, which seems more than I can handle but is nevertheless still there. This article was truly life-changing. THANK YOU.

  4. Ed & Deb Shapiro ed shapiro says:

    Alanna Lee – your comment is why we write blogs – you touch our hearts – you are cherished & loved. Thank you for being you!
    Treasure yourself,
    Deb

  5. Jaki says:

    :-) I couldnt believe it when I came across you guys on Elephant Journal….my first experience of yoga was around 20 years ago when I accompanied my mum to one of your workshops in Scotland. I took away the amazing yoga nidra practise and then fifteen years later started to practise asana. I now teach yoga….and still share some of the beautiful things I learned from you guys 20 years ago with my students today :-) namaste xJakix

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