Anger,  Emotions,  Mindfulness,  Resources

Mindfulness for Anger

Here is some quotes from a website that tells of anger and mindfulness:

All this material is from “PeaceMindfulness is Every Step” by Thich Nhat Hanh, a Vietnamese Buddhist monk who
is one of humanity’s greatest spiritual resources. He was, among other things, responsible for getting Martin Luther King to come out against the Vietnam War (a very controversial move for him at the time). King nominated him for the Nobel Peace Prize for his work (unfortunately futile) for peace in Vietnam. He is the author of *numerous* books, all of them lovely and wonderful, among them “Being Peace” and “The Miracle of Mindfulness”.  Here’s some of what he has to say about anger:

“Anger is an unpleasant feeling. It is like a blazing flame
that burns up our self-control and causes us to say and do
things that we regret later. When someone is angry, we can see
clearly that he or she is abiding in hell. Anger and hatred
are the materials from which hell is made. A mind without
anger is cool, fresh and sane.  The absence of anger is the
basis of real happiness, the basis of love and compassion.

When our anger is placed under the lamp of mindfulnes, it
immediately begins to lose some of its destructive nature. We
can say to ourselves, ‘Breathing in, I know that anger is in
me. Breathing out, I know that I am my anger.’  If we follow
our breathing closely while we identify and mindfully observe
our anger, it can no longer monopolize our consciousness.

Awareness can be called upon to be a companion for our
anger.  Our awareness of our anger does not suppress it or
drive it out.  It just looks after it. This is a very
important principle.  Mindfulness is not a judge.  it is more
like an older sister looking after and comforting her younger
sister in an affectionate and caring way. We can concentrate
on our breathing in order to maintain this mindfulness and
know ourselves fully.

When we are angry, we are not usually inclined to return to
ourselves. We want to think about the person who is making us
angry, to think about his hateful aspects – his rudeness,
dishonesty, cruelty, maliciousness, and so on. The more we
think about him, listen to him, or look at him, the more our
anger flares. His dishonesty and hatefulness may be real,
imaginary, or exaggerated, but, in fact, the root of the
problem is the anger itself, and we have to come back and look
first of all inside ourselves. It is best if we do not listen
to or look at the person who is the cause of our anger.  Like
a fireman, we have to pour water on the blaze first and not
waste time looking for the one who set the house on fire…

When we are angry, our anger is our very self. To suppress
or chase it away is to suppress or chase away our self. When
we are joyful, we are the joy. When we are angry, we are the
anger.  When anger is born in us, we can be aware that anger
is an energy in us, and we can accept that energy in order to
transform it into another kind of energy. When we have a
compost bin filled with organic material that is decomposing
and smelly, we know that we can transform the waste into
beautiful flowers… We need the insight and non-dual vision
of the organic gardener with respect to our anger. We need not
be afraid of it or reject it.  We know that anger can be a
kind of compost, and that it is within its power to give birth
to something beautiful. We need anger the way an organic
gardener needs compost. If we know how to accept our anger, we
already have some peace and joy. Gradually we can transform
anger completely into peace, love and understanding.

Expressing anger is not always the best way to deal with
it. In expressing anger we might be practicing or rehearsing
it, and making it stronger in the depth of our consciousness.
Expressing anger to the person we are angry at can cause a lot
of damage.

Some of us may prefer to go into our room, lock the door,
and punch a pillow. We call this “getting in touch with our
anger”.  But I don’t think this is getting in touch with our
anger at all.  In fact, I don’t think it is even getting in
touch with our pillow. If we are really in touch with our
pillow, we know what a pillow is and we won’t hit it. Still,
this technique may work temporarily because while pounding the
pillow we expend a lot of energy and after a while we are
exhausted and we feel better.  But the roots of the anger are
still intact, and if we go out and eat some nourishing food,
our energy will be renewed.  If the seeds of our anger are
watered again, our anger will be reborn and we will have to
pound the pillow again…

…In order to have real transformation, we have to deal
with the roots of our anger – looking deeply into its causes.
If we don’t, the seeds of anger will grow again. If we
practice mindful living, planting new, healthy, wholesome
seeds, they will take care of our anger, and they may
transform it without our asking them to do so.”

So here is Thich Nhat Hanh’s anger meditation:

“When anger arises, we may wish to go outside to practice
walking meditation. The fresh air, green trees and plants will
help us greatly. We can practice like this:

Breathing in, I know that anger is here.
Breathing out, I know that the anger is in me.
Breathing in, I know that anger is unpleasant.
Breathing out, I know this feeling will pass.
Breathing in, I am calm.
Breathing out, I am strong enough to take care of this

To lessen the unpleasant feeling brought about by the anger,
we give our whole heart and mind to the practice of walking
meditation, combining our breath with our steps and giving
full attention to the contact between the soles of our feet
and the earth…After a while, our anger will subside and we
will feel stronger.  Then we can begin to observe the anger
directly and try to understand it.

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