Yoga Practice for Anger
Anger can be a very scary emotion. It can be an emotion that we do not want to relate to whether we are experiencing it or whether we are watching somebody else express it.
Anger is a very direct emotion. It is an emotion that puts is in connection with our present moment experience. All of our periphery experiences fade away and we have a kind of tunnel vision that takes over, we get locked into only what is happening now. We can no longer hear or see or sense anything else. Nothing is important except for what we are angry about.
Reflect on your the last time you experienced the emotion of anger. Why were you angry? Ngakpa Chogyam and Khandro Dechen suggest that anger arises when our reaction to the experience is one of fear. Was that true for you? Did your anger happen in reaction to the experience of fear? Did you feel somebody had taken advantage of you?
When I reflected on Ngakpa Chogyam and Khandro Dechen´s assertions that at the root of anger is fear, I found that everytime anger arises in me, yes, at the root of this emotion is fear and deep feelings of vulnerability and insecurity that make it difficult for me to be soft in my response. How dare they do that to me? How dare they take advantage of me in that way? How dare they expose me in that way? This kind of anger is put up as a defense mechanism to deter the abuse of humiliation to try to avoid my own feelings of being fragile and exposed.
When I reflect on the times that I am angry with other people , if I am honest, very often I am weak and afraid. However, it is easier to express anger than to acknowledge that I really am feeling weak, fearful and vulnerable, that way I get to puff myself out and appear to stay strong and confident. In truth, my anger is arising in response to an externally perceived threat, especially when somebody else appears to possess power I feel I am lacking or appears to be taking away power I feel I should exclusively hold.
Instead of discussing my feelings openly and honestly, I hold onto my self-image as a strong and confident person and I get angry. To admit to my feelings would be to expose my insecurity. To admit to my feelings could be embarrassing. So rather than risking the possibility of suffering disrespect, I rise up in anger. Even though I might not express this anger to another person, there is an atomic war in progress internally.
Our most immediate strength can lie in acknowledging our weakness. As Ngakpa Chogyam and Khandro Dechen say, ¨Weakness only exists because it is kept locked in an emotional high security vault designed to preserve self-image and is a sense of personal security.¨
These teachings on anger from Ngakpa Chogyam and Khandro Dechen are asking me to open to my own vulnerability, to let go of the fear of my own self-disclosure. Instead of continuing with habits of anger, attack and assault, those habits that come out of defending myself and my personal identity, I am exploring the possibility of opening myself to others and having the courage to admit my vulnerability. When I do so, perhaps I will find that my insecurities and my perceived inadequacies are groundless.
Props: blocks, bolster, folded blanket or pillow
Asanas: Reclined Bound Angle Pose or Supta Baddha Konasana, Lunge Pose or Anjaneyasana, Frog Pose or Mandukasana , Warrior One Pose or Virabhadrasana One Pose to Humble Warrior, Goddess Victory Squat or Utkata Konasana to Humble Horse, Dolphin Pose or Ardha Pincha Mayurasana, Plank Pose or Kumbhakasana, Side Plank Vasisthasana, Upward Facing Dog or Urdhva Mukha Svanasana, Ardha Gomukhasana or Half Cow´s Face Forward Fold, Savasana or Corpse Pose , Abhaya Mudra
Resource: Spectrum of Ecstasy: The Five Wisdom Emotions According to Vajrayana Buddhism
by Ngakpa Chogyam and Khandro Dechen
If you want more support in opening to uncomfortable emotions, each Monday we meet in our live classes in our membership community for guided meditations. I give a teaching talk and then lead a guided meditation. You have a chance to ask questions and receive support for your practice. This is an amazing part of our community and we would love to have you.