Anger is a dangerous emotion that we have all experienced at one point in our lives. Why do I call it dangerous? Because the inability to manage this emotion effectively can leave us feeling out of control. Feeling flustered and hot-tempered can lead to aggressive, violent or unacceptable behavior. When we get into a heated argument with someone we feel misunderstood. As things are just not going the way we envisioned it would feelings of anger start to slowly creep in. With anger around, anything can happen. We lose our ability to control our behavior. We often say things that aren’t true, or that hurt others, and we can never take them back. If we leave anger up to its own devices, our relationships and connections with ourselves and others will land in complete disarray.
Before we can remain calm when something angers us, we have to understand what makes us angry in the first place. What makes one person angry and really bother them, may have no effect on someone else. But at the end of the day, we all have some trigger that sets off our anger. That trigger is tied into our expectations. We expect things, actions, behaviors or life to be a certain way. When anything falls outside of our expectations, anger is first on the scene ready to cause havoc! But we can’t just allow anger to leave its mark while leaving destruction in its wake. That’s why we must learn to manage our anger or those things that contribute to our anger in an effective way.
There are many ways to use meditation to help control or even prevent anger. The techniques that I will outline below can really be useful to reframing your thoughts. You will identify your triggers and stay calm. You will experience less stress and emotional upheaval. If you are calm in general, and steadily work on your state of calmness it will take a lot to actually make you angry. Try practicing peaceful seated meditation daily. If you are more of a movement person you may want to try tai chi. All meditative disciplines can help you calm your mind and body.
Meditation also works very well at helping you to identify and understand your emotions. We can feel a variety of emotions in a short period of time. Our brains and bodies feel confused as to what we are actually feeling. Quiet meditation helps us identify our feelings as they arise. It can also assist us in controlling our emotions and the effects that we allow them to have on us. Anger makes us act impulsively. We say or do the first thing that comes to our mind without any consideration. When we are mindful of our emotions and their effect on us, we can manage them effectively. We can gain control over our behavior and what we say. We take the time to consider the best action or comment for the situation. Once we have acknowledged our emotion of anger and allowed it to pass through us we have released it.
Having a clear idea of what triggers your anger, is an essential part of managing it and staying calm. For most of us, it is our underlying expectations of a situation that triggers our anger response. When you hop into your car at the end of a long day at work, you expect it to take you a certain amount of time to get home. But when you are hit with a major traffic jam your expectations weren’t met, and your response is anger. Being late is stressful enough. Don’t let worry or an angry response make it worse. This is a very concrete example of how we can allow our expectations to get the better of us. For many of us, however, we sometimes have expectations that we are not aware of. These stem from something deeper like our beliefs. Through meditating on specific situations that have caused us to feel anger, we can tune into the hidden expectations that we hold. Once we are aware of our expectations we can slowly learn to let go of them. It takes consistent and daily meditation to do this. Think of it as cleaning house. Once you see where the dirt is, you can clean it up. With each inhalation focus on the undesirable situation. With each breath out, let go of it completely.
Even with hard work and commitment to meditation, there will still be times when you feel angry, frustrated and misunderstood. Through mindful body meditation, you can become aware of the anger rising in your body. You will feel your heart beginning to beat more rapidly and your muscles tightening. You are aware of your body’s reaction to the anger that you feel before it reaches its peak. That is when you need to stop and relax. You can learn to let go of your anger before it becomes dangerous. Regardless of what others are doing, you can still control your own behavior.
If you haven’t mastered the ability to let go of your anger you can use a simple breathing meditation. Breathing and visualization together help the most. It can work wonders in bringing calm to your anger filled situation. Take a few steps back and remove yourself from the situation. Find a place that is quiet where you won’t be disturbed. Sit or stand with a comfortable posture and close your eyes. You can begin to take deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth. Relax your abdomen and let it expand as you breath in.
As you inhale, visualize calmness and the color blue or white which signify tranquillity. On the exhale visualize the release of the pent up anger by picturing the colors black and red leaving your body. You only need to do this for a few minutes before you notice the effects. You’ll be feeling centered and in control. Once you feel that you have command over your emotion, you’ll have the ability to stay calm. That is so much healthier than letting your anger get the better of you.