Updated: Sep 7, 2021
It seems every conversation lately touches on anger. People are angry about anti-vaxxers and anti-vaxxers are angry about personal choice. People who do not mind wearing a mask to protect those around them are mad at those who think that masks are an affront to their personal freedoms. Parents are angry their children have to wear masks to school. People are angry at our government for doing too much or too little. Politics, divergent philosophies, and the pandemic have brought out the diversity of human emotions on all sides.
Navigating the Covid pandemic
The Covid pandemic has taken its toll both physically and mentally on people all around the globe. Initially thought to be a finite problem, variants are adding a duration that many find hard to navigate. Add the anxieties of global warming, traumatic and devastating natural disasters, the terrors in Afghanistan, the chaos of sending kids back to school - masked or unmasked; the world seems to be spinning dangerously out of control.
Not being able to control all of these anxieties easily leads to feelings of anger. Anger is a Secondary Emotion. Typically one of the primary emotions, like fear or sadness, can be found underneath the anger. Fear includes things like apprehension and worry while sadness comes from the experiences of loss, disappointment, or discouragement. I like to envision holding a big red umbrella (representing anger) that protects the fear, sadness, and worry because those primary emotions cause anxiety.
Another metaphor for anger is the iceberg. Most of the iceberg is underwater. The part we see represents anger, but underneath, there is a multitude of emotions that we might not be aware of. In other words, anger can be symptomatic of other unexpressed emotions.
Anger is a physical experience
When experiencing anger, we feel the tenseness in the body, our blood pressure rises, and if the anger does not reduce the body activates the flight, fight, freeze response. When that response is activated, we are acting from a place of threat - which if not tended to, can lead to reactive behaviors that can be harmful to both others and ourselves.
According to Daniel Goleman, “Emotional Intelligence,” "anger causes blood to flow to our hands, making it easier for us to strike an enemy or hold a weapon. Our heart rate speeds up and a rush of hormones—including adrenaline—creates a surge of energy strong enough to take “vigorous action.” In this way, anger is ingrained into our brains to protect us.
Looking inward when my own anger is triggered, I find is that I am not angry at a specific individual or a group, I am angry at the hatred which seems to be simmering on the surface of everything. The universal energies of greed, hatred, and ignorance keep us separate and fearful; emotions which are blocking us from love and the feelings of well-being.
Using mindfulness to transform anger
I have been studying and applying mindfulness practice to effectively deepen and transform my relationship with anger. It is a four-step process known by the acronym RAIN: Recognize, Accept, Investigate, Non-Identify.
Recognize the many forms of anger that can take: rage, resentment, irritation.
Accept that personal and/or collective anger at our world in a nonjudgmental way.
Investigate that anger. What is the energy of it and Is it morphing into other emotions?
Practice non-identification to bring about awareness and understanding that anger arises and passes away.
Learning to use RAIN—recognizing, accepting, investigating, and non-identifying—turns the suffering of anger into a conscious and workable energy. Meditations I lead using this practice have proven to be extremely helpful for my students as well. When anger is held in mindfulness, it can energize us to respond wisely to challenging situations.
RAIN will be one of the many tools that I will be incorporating into my upcoming Fall courses. I encourage you to click the links in the boxes below to learn more about my six-week Mindful- Self Compassion course and my four-week Intro to Mindfulness Course. These courses are designed to provide mental tools which can alleviate stress and anxiety, a vital step for maintaining mental health in today's world.
Click on this link to learn more about the instructions to incorporate RAIN in your daily life. https://www.lionsroar.com/rain-cools-flames-anger/
Click here for my guided meditation: https://soundcloud.com/user-694080566/rain-meditation-on-anger
Intro to Mindfulness
This course is a 4-week course designed for people who have little to no experience in Mindfulness and who would like to get started. The course runs for just 1-hour for 4-weeks beginning September 14th from 9:30 am to 10:30 am.
To register, click on the following link:
Intro to Mindfulness for Teens
This course is a 4-week course designed for teens who have little to no experience in Mindfulness and who would like to get started on their journey to mental and emotional wellness. The course runs for just 1-hour for 4-weeks beginning October 6th from 1-2 pm.
To register, click on the following link:
8-Week Mindful Self-Compassion Course
The course start date is October 5th. 4-6:30 pm No class October 19.
For more info, click on the following link.