Developing mindfulness for anger is one of the best things you can do in your life.
In fact, it saved my life and many relationships.
Thank goodness. I used to get so angry and not know how to unwind my way out of it, I became ill.
I’d had it since I was a kid too. I don’t know how many of the prized cassettes in my music collection I punched, often cutting my fist.
I won’t go through all the destruction, because you probably know what it’s like. And you probably have your own stories.
Today, you’re going to learn how to embrace all the pain that influences your anger and rapidly transform it into a mindful state of acceptance and resolution.
Before you know it, you’ll move from seeking peace to actually having it.
You may even enter a nondual state, which is one of the highest levels of contentment you can reach.
Let’s dive in and help the anger dissipate.
Mindfulness For Anger: 3 Main Benefits
Some of the benefits of living without anger are obvious:
- Less stress
- Time saved
- More kind thoughts and fewer hostile ones
But some of the benefits are a little less obvious. Let’s take a look:
One: No More Self Sabotage
One of my girlfriends used to have a handwritten quote stuck to her mirror:
“Every man has inside himself a parasitic being who is acting not at all to his advantage.”
Attributed to William S. Burroughs, I was confronted by the idea every time I looked at myself in her mirror. And I knew it was true of myself.
For example, around that time, an enthusiastic attendee of one of my Film Studies lectures offered to professionally record the entire semester.
I had such issues with self-loathing that I cooked up every reason why this would not be possible. Despite his many offers, I told him I didn’t want my “precious ideas” available for free on the Internet. I was such a fool!
At the time, I didn’t realize how much anger and hatred for myself and others I was holding. I just knew that the Burroughs quote was true. And I knew I was committed to getting out of the puzzle.
It took some years, but eventually I got out of it. You’ll be able to get out much sooner using the techniques I’ll be sharing below.
Two: Clearer Vision Of The Future
When you’re filled with anger, you’re actually quite mindful. It’s just that you’re mindful of the wrong things.
One of those things is the immediate present. Perhaps you’re punishing yourself because you think you said something stupid. Or you’re reacting to a real or perceived threat to your ego that happened a few hours ago and you just can’t let it go.
With your brain “seized” in such a state, it’s hard to make a compare/contrast assessment with the vast future yet to come. It’s not easy to think about the billions of years the universe has existed and realize just how tiny your “me” problem really is.
Scientists call this perceptual and conceptual self-referential thinking. It’s not clear to many scientists just how big of a problem the use of words is in self-referential thinking.
But Burroughs introduced the idea that language is a virus in The Ticket That Exploded. And many Cognitive Behavioral Therapy modalities address language by encouraging patients to become their own therapists.
Dr. Gary Weber links SRIN (self-referential inner narrative) to suffering, and in books like Happiness Beyond Thought, offers language-based exercises that help clear the mind.
And when the mind is clear, the mindfulness for anger you’re experiencing transforms to clarity about the now. This open space allows you to just be and create a much better vision of the future. Once clear, an easy way to use language more positively is to journal about the future you wish to create.
Three: Create Goals & Track Progress
We all know that goal setting is important.
But without that clear mind, it’s hard to set reasonable ones. And it’s even harder to keep track of the steps we’ve taken.
After I finally started to deal with my issues by working on mindfulness for anger, I was able to try the very thing that had been offered to me.
I created a YouTube channel based on Film Studies, made some goals, and journaled to keep track of my progress.
But without the clear mind working on mindfulness for anger management made possible, I used to find it way too easy to forget the goals I’d set. And I would forget to keep track of the ones that I hadn’t forgotten.
That’s all different now. The parasite is gone and I’ve done better than help myself create many great outcomes. I’ve been able to help many thousands of people around the world too. Perhaps even millions through this TEDx Talk:
Now that you know some of the many benefits developing mindfulness for anger can provide, let’s look at some meditations and other practices you can take up.
3 Meditations For Anger & Stress
I don’t know about you, but when I get stressed out and angry, I want a quick solution.
That’s possible, but you need to look at self care meditation in the plural. There’s likely no one strategy or magic bullet that is going to take care of all your woes.
So rather than pick just one way of using mindfulness for anger, explore several. That’s what I did and that’s what I still do to maintain what I think of as “cruising altitude.”
Having a variety of approaches is essential because some studies have clearly shown that not all mindfulness and meditation techniques work for all people.
But when you’re willing to explore and work on developing a Victorious Mind, you’ll be delighted by what can happen for you.
So with that in mind, let’s get started.
One: Kirtan Kriya
I had already meditated for years, but adding kirtan kriya led to my first experience of feeling I’d started to grow as a person and conquer my darkest thoughts.
This positive result probably happened because kirtan kriya has been shown to help people with mild cogntive impairment – which perhaps is exactly what unchecked anger is.
To perform this meditation, sit, stand or go for a walk. As you concentrate, say these syllables as you press your thumb together with your fingers:
Different people interpret what these syllables mean, but basically it’s a mantra that refers to connecting with your authentic self.
If you don’t like those syllables, you can also try the Chinese version, which is sounded like, Ah may toe fo-ah.
Or you can make a personal mantra as I sometimes do and just use numbers or letters from the alphabet. The practice can be purely secular, philosophical, or religious.
As Dr. Weber demonstrates, making sure to get your hands involved to add a level of physical embodiment:
When I’m having a bad arthritis day, I sometimes skip the hand part and just recite the sound pattern mentally.
Two: Explore Guided Meditations
Kirtan Kriya is quite simple.
But if you’re not able to focus on even that simple routine (which is understandable if you’re just starting), it’s useful to collect and practice with a variety of guided meditations.
I don’t recommend any in particular, but for me, these have been as simple as binaural beats or vocal based meditations by a variety of teachers. There are countless options on YouTube, Spotify and elsewhere on the Internet.
You can also make your own, which I also did a lot. All you have to do is write your own mindfulness for anger script, record it and listen back. With programs like Audacity, it only takes a minute to add some background music.
At first, I found listening to my own voice guide me to a state of calm a bit strange. But soon it made sense, especially since it was my inner voice that had either driven me to anger in the first place, or got caught in a loop that kept fanning the flames.
Three: “Zen Of Memory” Meditation For Anger
As I mention in the TEDx Talk I shared above, I almost threw a laptop off my balcony.
But by this time I had memorized an entire passage in Sanskrit extracted from the Ribhu Gita. You can find this passage in Gary Weber’s Evolving Beyond Thought.
It works so well for managing anger because it’s funny.
For example, one of the passages says that a real thought is as rare as a rabbit with horns.
It’s hard for me to recite that line without reflecting on how ridiculous my angry thoughts are. They’re not useful and I’ve just caught my mind behaving unskilfully, as Fred Davis puts it.
Working with long form mantras is so absorbing, the activity itself helps you rewire your mind. I’ve been deeply transformed by it.
The best part?
The method of loci I used to memorize the piece has been scientifically shown to reduce symptoms of PTSD and depression.
Does Meditation Really Help With Anger?
In my personal experience, yes.
However, some people may find meditation disorienting or otherwise confronting. Dr. Caroline van Damme has shared some of her experiences with patients experiencing adverse effects.
It’s hard to get to all of the reasons why a person might have a bad experience, but scientists are working on it.
For now, it’s worth knowing that it’s possible, and I’ll share my own experience of going into what is often called a “Dark night of the soul.”
Basically, as my anger started following away, so too went the stories with it. I realized that so much of my identity was tied up in those stories. It was the beginning of ego death.
I remember riding my bike and experiencing how empty the entire universe seemed to me. Not only empty of meaning, but empty of anything at all.
Fortunately, the shock and despair did not last long. In fact, I no longer experience emptiness often at all. Usually it is a complete fullness of being, as if there is absolutely nothing you could add or take away from the present moment. It is perfect just as it is, even with pain and discomfort.
And if I do find myself getting angry, that’s okay too. I just go back to one of the meditations I shared with you today and I’m quickly back to cruising altitude.
So what do you say?
Are you ready to let the anger go and fill your days with pleasant awareness of the world just as it is?