You might find it odd to read the words "anger" and "meditation" together. After all, you've read a lot about peacefulness here, and isn't peacefulness the opposite of anger? Today you will learn, however, about the value of anger and how to use it to provide you with greater energy for life.
One-Moment Meditation can be used like any conventional anger management technique to help you keep a lid on the anger when you need to. As soon as you notice that you're angry—and before you erupt—just do a moment of meditation. Nothing wrong with that.
If you have been practicing One-Moment Meditation when you are not angry, then when you are angry, it will come to your aid even more quickly and effectively. In other words, if you have found a more peaceful place in yourself when you are already peaceful, you will be able to find it more easily when you are not.
The Anger Meditation, however, is much more than that—it involves working with your anger rather than putting it away, leaving it behind or getting above it. I developed this technique because anger has an unfair reputation among people who try hard to be peaceful. Some people—myself included—have a tendency to use meditation as a way to escape from anger or deny that they are angry. Some people are not even fully aware they are angry, and meditation can make this worse.
Meditation should not be used as an escape from the truth of our lives, even if that truth is an angry one. And although peacefulness is a goal of meditation, or a state of mind that can result from meditation, this mustn't be a "detached" peacefulness.
Anger can be enormously helpful. It can provide new and vital energy, be empowering and offer some valuable insights. It can also be a sign that something important is not being addressed in your family, workplace or community. In other words, anger can have value.
The reclaiming of anger can also be an essential step in recovery for people who are depressed, enabling them to clear a logjam of emotion and begin to feel other feelings—such as joy and enthusiasm for life. And for oppressed minorities or others who have been chronically disadvantaged, finding anger may be an important step in building pride, fighting for civil rights or expanding their sense of potential.
The problems with anger are not to do with anger, but with how you handle it. Anger can be violent and abusive. You can act from anger prematurely or impulsively, and angry actions or words can create cycles of escalating hurt and anger. You can also get so hooked on anger that you are unable to imagine any other options. You can blame others for your problems to the point that you forget even to consider your role in the situation.
Get the 5 steps to Anger Meditation
The Anger Meditation involves embracing anger as valuable, while also making sure you aren't dumping it on anyone else.
Here's how to do it:
1. First make a commitment not to act on your anger for the duration of this exercise and for one day following it.
2. Now put out of your mind, temporarily, whatever you think might be "causing" the anger, or whatever you think it might be "about." These factors are not relevant here.
3. Now identify where, in your body, you feel the anger most. There is usually a physical feeling associated with anger. Most of the time it will feel hot, although sometimes it can feel like the absence of feeling, or a feeling of "going cold." Just notice where this is and notice how it feels.
4. Now, as you begin to meditate, bring your breath to meet that angry feeling. Your focus is not on trying to feel less angry or trying to feel angrier, but on meeting that physical feeling with your mind and your breath. At first, you might just make the most tentative contact. But keep doing this, breath by breath.
5. Keep doing this until you feel a bit more stable with your anger. If the anger had been overwhelming, you should find that you are getting a little distance from it. On the other hand, if you were not fully aware of the anger, you will find that it gets a bit more vivid. It works either way. You are befriending the anger and welcoming it as part of you.
You can do this meditation for just a moment, as a way of checking in with yourself, or you can keep doing it until you start to feel more comfortable with the anger, until it is something you can live with.
It is a bit like learning how to drive in a skid. When you're driving on an icy road, and your car starts to skid, your impulse might be to turn away from the skid—but that would just cause you to lose control. The better strategy is to turn into the skid, not out of it. In other words, working against what is happening usually makes things worse, whereas going with what is happening helps you regain appropriate control. With the Anger Meditation, you turn toward your anger—working with it, respectfully—rather than fighting against it.
While doing the Anger Meditation, or shortly after, you may suddenly experience clarity about what triggered the anger or how you contributed to the situation. You might discover a way to express what you're feeling in a constructive way. But primarily, you are learning to be at peace with whatever you're feeling, even if it doesn't always seem so peaceful. You are also learning how to chart a middle way between acting from anger, on the one hand, and trying to be a saint, on the other hand.
As you practice the Anger Meditation, you may even experience the anger transforming into pure energy, to a point where it really isn't even anger anymore. This transformed energy, moving all through your body and mind, can make you feel more alive, awake, vibrant. You feel peaceful in the most vital way, because peacefulness is not the absence of feeling—it is the flowering of feeling.
Martin Boroson is a playful, practical new voice in the next wave of meditation teachers. Author of One-Moment Meditation: Stillness for People on the Go, he lectures on the benefits of a meditative mind for decision-making and leadership. Marty studied philosophy at Yale, earned an MBA from the Yale School of Management and is a formal student of Zen. Visit his website for One-Moment Meditation® help and resources, tweet him at @takeamoment or find him on Facebook.
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Printed from Oprah.com on Monday, March 10, 2014
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