People famously misquote the great Buddha for having described anger as being a poison we drink in order to harm someone else. Anger is a natural part of our humanity. Rooted into the evolution of our need to survive, anger is a response when we feel threatened. As an emotion, anger is secondary. Typically, beneath the surface of anger is unresolved fear or sadness. Why do we become angry instead of allowing ourselves to be fearful or sad? Mainstream culture generally shuns fear and sadness. We are constantly told not to be afraid and not to be sad. Fear and sadness, like anger, are natural parts of who we are as humans.
In Buddhism, we learn to detach from our emotions. Detaching from one’s emotions, judgments about their emotions, and the way they label their emotions is not the same as apathy. Quite the opposite, mindfully detaching from emotions means mindfully embracing the emotions as a passing state. During meditation, we simply practice noticing how we are feeling or what feelings are coming up. All we do is acknowledge them, and allow them to pass.
Anger, however, is not so transitory. Like a virus, anger spreads. Anger can block our chakras, get stuck in our bodies, and cloud our judgment. One angry response often leads to another until we are reacting angrily to everything. Anger encourages negativity, resentment, bitterness, jealousy, and envy. We get angry because we think we are missing out, are less than, or are unworthy. These thoughts about anger shape our reality and interrupt the natural flow of spiritual life.
When anger comes on, it surges like a volcano- there’s little stopping it once it starts flowing. With mindful practice, anger can be halted, embraced, understood, and empathized with. As much as we think we should not be sad or fearful, however entitled we feel to our anger, we often feel we can’t be angry either! Instead of fighting our fear or letting it loose on those around us, we hold ourselves with compassion, and seek to gain knowledge from our experiences. Compassion allows us to recognize our own suffering and have deeper tolerance for ourselves.
Refuge Recovery is a Buddhist treatment center for men and women seeking a spiritual path for recovery. We provide a continuum of care for patients from detox outpatient to after care. Our goal is to help you find your most authentic self through evidence based therapeutic methods and holistic practices for healing. For more information, call or text us at 323-207-0276.