Have you ever felt so angry that you lost control over yourself? If so then, pause for a minute and try to remember what you did when you were very angry. Did you shout? Did you throw things? Did you hit someone? Whatever might be your reaction due to your anger, you must have felt relieved for sometime, but what about after that? Harvard Psychologist Dan Wegner(1994) has shown that the frequency of the thought that you try not to think may go down for a short while ,but it soon appears more often than ever.
In normal problem solving situations, when there is something we don’t like, we figure out how to get rid of it and we take action’s to do that. if we don’t like dirty utensils in sink, we clean it, if we don’t like leaky roof, we fix it. If we don’t like something, we figure out how to get rid of it, and then get rid of it. That’s the reason cognitive and linguistic processes are vital.
But if we apply same strategy to our inner suffering then, it often backfires. Human suffering, mostly, lies in their ability to communicate. Being a verbal creatures, thought suppression only makes the situation worse. Few years back, I attended mindfulness based symptom management program. One day, we were required to observe total silence with no eye contact allowed with other’s in the program. Day of total silence opened the path to look within oneself deeply and to own every thought, conflicts as it is. When suffering is embraced, letting go becomes easy . As program progressed, my level of stress decreased .
Steven C. Hayes & Spencer Smith mentioned in the book, “Get out of Your Mind & Into Your life” that, Human being are capable of relational thinking. Mind can relate anything to anything in any possible way. We don’t have strength of gorillas, the teeth of tigers ,the speed of cheetahs, or venom of snake. Nevertheless, we, humans have taken over planet. Ability to use language to communicate and think relationally plays an important role. Research suggests that relational thinking is at the very core not only of how human think, but why they suffer.
Mindfulness as a concept can be simply understood as being in the flow of things, experience of fullness, peace and being one with the activity or a scene. Mindfulness is not produced to chase away or fight anger but to take care of it. Thich Nhat Hanh, in his teachings on love has offered advice on using mindfulness to take care of your anger, and ultimately transform it into love and understanding. Mindfulness is always being mindful of something, just as anger is anger at something. When every morsel of food goes in your mouth with full awareness, then you are mindful of eating food or that is mindfulness of eating food. If you eat while watching television then most likely you will not realize how tasty the food was which you ate just now. So, to be mindful, needs you to focus totally on the activity you are engaged in through your thoughts ,emotions as well as sensations.
How to produce mindfulness of anger?
# One needs to practice recognition. Recognize when anger has arisen by closely observing your emotions, thoughts, bodily sensations, an urge to do something, memory, at that moment. In Buddha’s writings, we find the term Right Mindfulness. It has nothing to do with our usual understanding of doing the right thing. Right Mindfulness is the process of seeing clearly into our situation, using the wisdom of our experience and making choices that move us towards our well-being.
# Acceptance of what has been recognized. Once you have recognized that anger has arisen, produce mindfulness to embrace your anger, in the same manner mother comforts the child in pain. Don’t be angry at your anger. Embrace/accept your anger instead of suppressing it. Suppression creates more suffering. Once anger is accepted as part of you, gradually intensity of anger will lessen. Its a stage which will be achieved through regular practice. Practice of mindfulness need to be imbibed in your daily life on regular basis.
# Look for a source. Once you are able to achieve your previous state of well being, look deeply for the source of your anger. It is important to get at the root of the problem. Mindfulness is not produced to chase away or fight anger but to take care of it. Meditation is the art of using one kind of energy to transform another and anger is also an energy which can be transformed. If a child gets hurt while playing, he/she comes back crying looking for his/her mother to comfort him/her. Even if cause of his/her discomfort is still present, presence of mother near to him/her comforts him/her.
# Regular practice. Breathing in, I am angry, Breathing out, I know that the anger is in me. If your mind is full, full of automatic thoughts that manages to creep in somehow then we are still away from the state of mindfulness. Practice of mindfulness need to be imbibed in your daily life on regular basis. Initially, you can start by being mindful of day to day activities like eating, brushing, making tea/coffee, bathing, walking silently(mindful walking).To be mindful, one needs be in present moment, here and now. The practice of mindfulness is perhaps the most important in our understanding of mindfulness.
” To take good care of ourselves, we must go back and take care of the wounded child inside of us. You have to practice going back to your wounded child every day. You have to embrace him or her tenderly, like a big brother or a big sister. You have to talk to him, talk to her. And you can write a letter to the little child in you, of two or three pages, to that you recognize his or her presence and will do everything you can to heal his or her wounds.”
-Excerpt from the book, “Anger: Wisdom for Cooling the Flames” by Thich Nhat Hanh
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