An oldie but a goodie, and a challenge that I have had to revisit this week time and time again…
This week’s Mindfulness Challenge is called Caring for Anger
We all experience anger from time to time. Sometimes it feels white hot, while other times it is like a simmering pot on a stove, slowly bubbling away, waiting for its time to boil over. If we ignore the cues, it can burn and blacken its contents…
Thich Nhat Hanh, the Zen Buddhist master, offers some advice and some beautiful gathas (or short sayings) to help ease our anger, whenever it may arise. One of the first thing that Thich Nhat Hanh advises is to refrain from saying or doing anything when we find ourselves in a state of anger. Instead, if it is possible, it is best to remove oneself from the situation or the person that is causing the anger, and to perhaps practice mindful walking.
As we are walking, we can say:
Breathing in, I know that anger is in me
Breathing out, I know this feeling is unpleasant
As we walk, for a while and our mind starts to settle and focus on our breath, we can say:
Breathing in, I feel calm
Breathing out, I am now strong enough to take care of this anger
In this way, we have created space around the situation and the opportunity to respond, rather than react to the anger that is within us.
Another gatha that Thich Nhat Hanh offers when we are faced with anger is:
Getting angry at each other in the ultimate dimension
We should only close our eyes and look into the future
In one hundred years from now,
Where will you be? And where shall I be?
This shift of perspective highlights the impermanence and the changeability of our emotions.; moreover, it shines a light on the preciousness of our lives in this one pure moment…
Perhaps for this week, whenever we start to feel the edginess of anger, or the slow rumble of annoyance, we can practice Thich Nhat Hanh’s gathas, alongside of walking meditation. All the while, we can notice what happens to our anger when we give it space, and/or shift perspective.
Let us know how you get on!