Some people have a hard time giving themselves permission to feel anger – it goes “underground,” reappearing in disguises ranging from depression to anxiety. Others find it difficult to let go of anger: they feed it to maintain control or distract themselves from an unhealed wound. They can’t control what happened, but they can control their rage.
Either approach – pushing anger away or nurturing it – leads to a rut of unhappiness. The key to getting unstuck? Allowing the feeling to simply call into the loving presence around us, without holding anything back – then relax and release it to shift and move away, like a cloud floating in a summer sky.
How do you increase your tolerance for uncomfortable emotions like rage? Invoking them through consciousness and offering them to the vast loving presence around us. Whatever you call this presence, it is able to contain and dispel difficult emotions – so you can be free and at peace.
When I feel something like this: I was deceived by someone and I can’t get rid of my burning anger. Honestly, I don’t even know if I want to. Feeling that rage comforts me in a strange way.
Explore the sentiment like this: There are times in every life when we are hurt by another. Sometimes the person wanted to harm us, and other times the harm was done accidentally. Either way, being wronged triggers a sense of loss of control, which in turn fuels rage.
This meditation helps you tolerate strong emotions until they calm down. There is room for these emotions to move without hurting.
- As you close your eyes, feel your breath follow its natural rhythm. Now slowly work your way through your body, starting with your head and moving down, noticing the sensations. When you find an area of tightness or holding, gently invite it to relax, to soften.
- Now remember the situation in which you were wronged that elicits strong feelings of anger. Play the memory in your mind. With curiosity and kindness, feel the emotion as it registers in your body. Notice how it feels like a physical sensation.
- Gently scan your throat, chest and stomach, naming what you observe – tightness, warmth, pressure, compression, pulling, stabbing, tingling. Receive the experience without judging it or trying to make it different. With loving attention, invite the emotion to simply be. Let yourself feel it fully — don’t resist it and don’t hold any part of it back.
- At the level of the body, it can feel like an intense weather system is moving. Notice how sensations arise, stay for a while, and then fade as more arise.
- Begin to expand the prism of consciousness to include space outside your body. Expand outward until you feel yourself in the vast space of the outside world. Feel the ground below. Feel the trees, the sky, and the vast area around you in all directions. Notice the quality of presence that is here, an open and loving awareness. There is room here for difficult emotion.
- As you let it unfold in its own way, offer the difficult emotion to the larger space and release it as fully as you can. Relax and release it a bit more. Let it dissipate and float like a passing cloud. Rest in this spacious caring presence that contains everything.
For audio versions of some meditations, visit PresentHeart.com.
This article originally appeared in Kindness (Buy on Amazon, $12.99).
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