You just got a big push back from your boss. Someone has stepped over your foot on the bus. A careless driver just cut you.
What do you feel? Love, compassion and kindness? You wish. Unless you are a Buddha, most likely you feel anger.
Anger is a troublesome emotion to handle.
Anger is a particularly troublesome emotion because is powerful and often uncontrollable. It is fuelled by an intense energy that can erupt like a volcano at any moment, with potentially disastrous consequences.
How many times have you regretted that email? How many times you wished you did not say those words?
Let’s face it: as a society, we do have a problem with anger.
The thing is, nobody explained to us how to handle this natural emotion we all feel, and not allowed to express. Society teaches us to keep our emotions under strict control, particularly anger. If you allow anger to be openly expressed, you can easily get into serious trouble. But the real trouble is: if you don’t express anger, you are creating an even bigger problem for yourself.
So how to come out of this dilemma?
Meditation helps you to manage anger … does it really?
Learning how to manage anger is often the driver to try out meditation. Most people associate meditation with kindness, serenity, and calmness. Emotional balance is the chimera people seek to achieve through meditation, in the hope to experience a state of inner peace. Unfortunately, most of the meditation techniques available today are unable to offer much help when it comes to managing anger. The best advice you can get is: just watch your anger, and it will go away. Does it work for you? I tried countless times and consistently failed.
Release the pressure first
Watching anger is a viable option and a good recommendation for people who lived thousands of years ago, when psychological stress did not exist and emotional repression was an unknown phenomenon. 21st century people are not so lucky in this matter. We have repressed so much anger and frustration down the ages, that we live like boiling pots on the verge of exploding. We are playing with fire.
Collectively and individually, we are not equipped to handle anger and frustration. But the more we repress this emotion, the bigger and more dangerous it gets. We walk around like ticking bombs and we have no control over the switch button.
Before attempting any “meditative watching”, we need to release the pressure.
Repression or expression?
Thankfully Osho has designed meditation techniques that take into account repressed emotions. Osho says that expression is far healthier than repression. He suggests to express emotions in a safe environment without hurting anyone. Only then, it will be possible to watch and transcend emotions. Don’t try to bypass this stage or you will struggle and risk getting entangled in subtler levels of anger.
So what can you do to express anger without hurting yourself and other?
Tips to handle anger
Here are few practical tips which I have learned from Osho and which I have used for many years. They worked on me and countless other people.
- Take a pillow and beat it until you feel exhausted. Punch it and kick it to the utter extreme. The pillow won’t mind. If you are angry at someone in particular, you can imagine his/her face on the pillow and let it all out.
- Make faces and release tensions from your jaws, where anger tends to accumulate and be stored. Walk around the room and keep moving, making faces and shake your hands. Feel free to add sounds.
- Shout and let it out. Scream therapy goes a long way. If noise is an issue, take a pillow and shout whilst pressing it against your face; it will absorb the noise.
- In an emergency situation (i.e. if you are in a public place) clench your fists with great intensity and release. Repeat a few times until you feel the tension is diminished.
- Put on loud music and dance like a madman. Move your body vigorously and feel free to add sounds and make faces whilst you let the body express wildly.
All of this will help you expel poison from your system. It will change your chemistry by removing the anger hormones from your bloodstream. This allows the body to re-set and come back to a healthy physiological baseline. Now it will be much easier for you to practice awareness. Now is the time to watch and see that anger comes and goes, and you are not identified with it. You are not a slave of anger, you are beyond it.
Swaram has practiced meditation for over 20 years and is a certified OSHO Active Meditation facilitator. He holds a MA in Philosophy, and he teaches OSHO Active Meditations in Singapore. His website is www.loveosho.com.