October Theme: How to Deal with Anger


unfiltered-anger-webAnger: recognize, reduce, release 

Anger only holds us prisoner in our own bodies. One might say "but anger has a purpose. It lets people know what they did is not ok." No. Communication has it's place, but communication can only be received if it is washed clean of all traces of anger. You do not offer someone berries and expect them to eat the viney thorny stem the berries grew on. Do not hold inside, or deliver any of your anger out into the world. Anger is one strange thing that we experience, and must be witnessed as a foreign object reduced in size and focus and ultimately released. 

In that way, anger is like heat: Tapas. It is meant to purify, burn through us and like a flame, but it should destroy itself at the end of it's process.  Our biggest mistake is when we take the feeling of anger and try to harness it, hold it, fan it's flame, focus on it, and cultivate it's growth. Why do we do that? Fostering the growth of our anger causes pain in ourselves and others, destroys relationships, and makes us miserable. In this way, we practice the opposite to anger: Stirah Sukham Asanam. Our connection to the earth and all it's beings should be steady and joyful. The minute your connection to someone becomes not steady, not joyful, envoke the three steps to free yourself from the terrible grip of anger. Recognize, Reduce and Release. 

When I first opened my business,  suddenly the amount of detailed level interactions with many people went up exponentially.  Sometimes I had to communicate things that felt uncomfortable.  But I was committed that everything about this place be a manifestation of the yogic teachings and principles. There was no point to this place if behind the scenes we were not practicing loving kindness as best we could.
I quickly was given a mantra by my highest source: "Everything  can be shifted into the positive."

All discomforts can be transformed into opportunities, all pain can be dissolved into love, all disappointment can be forgiven with compassion.

We should not feel ashamed of ourselves for experiencing anger. It is a natural occurance. The danger in envoking this practice is that we "shame" ourselves into pushing down feelings and stuffing them deep inside. Instead, as skilled humans we must study ourselves and the spiritual texts that can guide us to our happiest life. This practice is called svadyaya. Observe ourselves, study the root causes of anger and wisdom through the sutras and with teachers. A person who is good at their job is always learning how to do it better. They never stop learning. Nothing is fixed, this is why we must always move with time. 

Anger is not a "serving" emotion. It occurs, but it does not serve. One of our biggest tasks in this human life is to learn how to let anger travel through us like lightning and EXIT out into the earth, not onto each other. Just as our poison, Carbon Dioxide, is a tree's food, understand that the earth itself is an absorbent receiver. It can take our anger and recycle it for good, but we have to let it go for that to happen. 

Physical practices to relieve us of anger involve anything where we are touching the earth. In any moment, if you are overcome by anger, if you can find earth (although this is difficult in the city) simply touch it with your hand. Let the anger flow into this great rich receiver. If we cannot find earth, we can take postures that meet the ground as best we can find it. Prostrations are the best way to do this. A prostration is laying on your belly, or bowing close to the ground. The hands can reach out in front of you in a prayer toward an altar or just toward the diving loving presence in all. Or the hands can come together in Anjali Mudra over the head. The forehead touches the earth. 

When we humble ourselves in a prostration, our ego falls away. The EGO is the stickiest part of ourselves which catches and grips onto anger. Prostrations physically dissolve this grip, and return us to the principle Isvara Pranidad: give up all of our actions to the highest and best, or, if you are okay with these words: surrender to God. 

When you feel anger, practice these three things: recognize, reduce, release.

Recognize your anger. Close your eyes right now, and if you think you are not holding anger, sit and wait. See what comes up that is masked as upset, frustration, or irritation. These are all forms of anger. 

Reduce: This is perhaps the most important step. This step honors that this anger that came up is natural, and we should not be ashamed and try to go right to "eliminate." We are energy beings and an energy is passing through us, the anger is there to awaken us to what our attachements are. It shows us where we are still suffering, and provides us with an opportunity for release.

Release: Abandon the anger. Just leave it right where you found it and don't feel you have to attend to it at all. The anger itself is an unwelcome stranger in your body. Without logic or reasoning, purely abandon anger. This is the best course of action always. But do not believe me. TRY this for the month, and see what transpires in all your relationships.

Then, if there is still communication that needs to happen, you will see it takes a different form. Communication comes out in love and compassion. Your words are supportive and warm, the response is joyful and accepting.  You have kept your steady connection. But if you notice even the most remote crumb of anger in any of your words, you must breathe, back up, and re-set. Our intention for others to feel love and joy, it can and should color every word we speak. 

Love and joy are the only places to speak from, to think from, to act from. Additionally do not mistake "Release" with Keep it inside and STORE IT.  Unexpressed anger that gets stored is even worse than anger expressed. Do not house this dark presence anymore than you would willingly house a virus or cancer. Recognize the delusion of anger and let all of it go before you do anything. Use asana, use pranayama, use meditation as tools. Do whatever you have to do, to recognize it, reduce it, release it. Practice this 3 step process over and over again, and you will find you are not a doormat, you are instead even more powerful then before. 

When we stand in peace, just as the protesters in the civil rights movement did, we are an unstoppable force. Those walking across the bridge in Selma were as powerful as a tsunami wave, armed with barriers against their own anger. One could say that if anyone had a "right" to be angry it was the oppressed and abused people under a legally racist society. But they learned from a great teacher that anger was not their right but their enemy. By actively releasing their own anger, the oppressor slowly lost the fuel for their own anger. Infused with peace and love, and standing up for survival and rise to power, this was truly one of the greatest wars ever won through the practice of peace, and letting go of anger.

-Ella Luckett, Jai Yoga Arts

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