This meditation has been compared with the experience of hitting a patch of ice while driving your car. As your car starts to skid out of control, your natural instinct is to try to manoeuvre out of the skid, but this will make the situation worse. The best way of dealing with it is not to turn away, but to turn into the skid and allow the car to come to a natural stop. To put it slightly differently, trying to move away can put you in more danger, but allowing yourself just to go with the flow can help you regain control and reach a safer conclusion.
With this Anger Meditation, instead of trying to control the situation or repress your angry feelings, you will be facing them head-on. You will just go with the intensity of the feelings, respectfully, rather than resisting them and pushing them away.
If you want this process to work for you, you will need firstly to agree with yourself not to vent or act out your anger while doing this exercise, and for a short while afterwards. It’s possible you might even feel more angry than usual at first, as you become more connected to your anger. This is often an indication that it is emerging and coming closer to the surface.
By combining three aspects of yourself – your awareness, your breath and your anger – you bring each of these vital components into a respectful harmony with each other.
- Anger often has a physical dimension to it. See if you can notice where you might be feeling the anger in your body.
- Don’t think about the cause of it or what has triggered it. Just notice where it’s located in your body and if it has some sort of texture or colour to it. It might even have a particular sound or a smell. Does it feel hot or cold?
- Don’t think about the source of the anger or what has triggered it. Stay focused on its underlying aspects.
- Begin to breathe slowly and deeply and, as you inhale, allow your breath to connect to the anger you are experiencing inside your body.
- Allow the contact to be tentative at first.
- Keep breathing and, as you do so, gradually allow there to be less distance between your anger and your breath.
- Let your awareness embrace the anger in your body and your breath – remain centred in yourself.
- Stay focused and it’s possible you will notice your anger become more tolerable and stable.
- Notice that you are managing to handle the intensity of whatever it is you are feeling.
- As you do this, actually welcome your anger as part of you – which it is. As you befriend your anger, it becomes your teacher, not your enemy, not something to get rid of.
This exercise may give you an insight into your ‘anger triggers’ and allow you to see your part in an angry incident. The hope for the future is that you will use this insight and express your feelings in more considered and respectful ways.
I keep reminding members of my groups that the idea is not to become a saint or an idealised image of a ‘peaceful person’ – it is to make friends with whatever you are feeling and be at peace with it.