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Six Ways on Overcoming Anger

An Exploration on Overcoming Anger

Dear Spiritual Explorer: I have worked at overcoming anger that I felt months ago when my brother hurt my feelings. In fact, I have a whole story as to how it was just one more of the things he has done since we were kids. I have tried meditating, praying, chanting, and all those spiritual things you hear about, but nothing seems to work. Do you have any suggestions? Mimi F., Duluth, OH

overcoming anger

The Miracle of Mindfulness

Dear Mimi: Anger sits on top of hurt feelings and when we admit to the pain that sits below, we sometimes can acknowledge more easily how hurt we truly are. Anger, unfortunately, shuts down all communication and hope of rapprochement because the other person then becomes victim to your anger. So there are two angers billowing around each other, with no hope of harmony. This reminds me of a story that Carolyn Myss once told of a Tibetan monk who was imprisoned for 20 years and when released, he was asked what was the most terrible thing he had to undergo. His shocking answer was,’ When they nailed my feet to the floor, I almost became angry.” This kind of gentleness which was inherent in Tibetan teachings can also be found in Thich Nat Hanh’s book Miracle of Mindfulness. Here he, as a monk, was also forced to undergo terrible things for his beliefs, and yet he was able to practice forgiveness when overcoming anger. My guru Ma Jaya would say that anger destroys the moment, it is so powerful. And we all know how when the person confronts us, for whom we have these feelings, our bodies can feel physically shaken just at the right of them. Anger as a karmic space is deeply explored in The Eleven Karmic Spaces by Ma Jaya.

Some tips for overcoming anger

1. Insight

One of the ways of overcoming anger is to truly see what it does to you. I think we can all acknowledge how our bodies respond so immediately to anger in a very toxic way. Some of us endure a fight or flight syndrome and our adrenals become very stressed. When we cool down, we often kick ourselves for having responded so violently to somebody’s unconscious statements or actions.

With regard to unconsciousness, most people are unconscious, not aware that they are inflicting disrespect or harm on some other. And so when you tell them you are hurt, they sometimes are surprised at the depth that you have expressed of your hurt.

2. Awareness of Victimization:

Someone once told me when I asked for help in overcoming anger, that I was just allowing myself to become victimized. When they said that, I for a moment was shocked out of my habitual response. As a teacher, I have often taught how easy it is to become victimized in a situation, and how we must guard against those situations. And yet, when I get angry, I am saying to myself somebody is hurting me in some manner and I begin to feel consequent powerlessness. Yes, powerless, because anger renders us powerless. When overcoming anger, we can feel a new sense of strength with us.

3. Using Physical and Mindful Action on Overcoming Anger

Now some of these might seem very simple, but as someone once told me, God is in the simple.” We continue to look for some “bolt out of the sky” solution, but here’s some simple physical exercise that can be used in the moment to overcome the effects of anger:

I have been told that the fastest way to change negative feelings is by changing our physical position right away. One of the ways to do that is by moving the eye position. When we are in a negative state, we likely look down. Suddenly looking up will interrupt negative patterns of thinking, allowing us to escape from the the quick sand of bad feelings.

Be creative in some fashion: I like writing and I know that when I write and like what I write, all of a sudden I feel better about myself and then the thoughts that come into my mind appear to be more forgiving and workable. When I am in a negative state of mind, all I can think of is revenge and hurt. None of those attributes will ever lead to harmony, if there is a chance of harmony.

Change Your Space: Take a walk and move your body in a different way. Notice how dogs when they are injured by someone or something, they get up and move. Most of us just sit there and absorb—not good.

4. Talking to the person who hurt you in a kind fashion

Now that is the very most difficult thing to do, especially if you have just written him a letter exposing all her faults as you have remembered them for the last 20 years. He will probably be on the defensive of all of them. That is why people say to simply state how you felt hurt by certain actions.  Most likely, again, most of us are self-serving and are only thinking of ourselves at the time, rather than the person to whom we are communicating. Sometimes, not always, people like to become more aware and open to what they have done, especially if they are on a spiritual path. You are lucky if you can find the person who is engaged with you in a contention to be one who attempts to have an open mind. But of course we must be careful not to attempt to seek revenge and hurt them more than the situation warrants. I know somebody who shouted out what I would consider a whole lifetime of pain to somebody who had hurt her feelings; it was quite painful to watch.

5. Sit Down and ask yourself, ” What do you want?”

Write down exactly what it is that you want out of the current situation. Your job is to describe the end result you would like to see. Be clear, realistic and fair. Be specific with your description. Once you have this clearly mapped out and perhaps find yourself drifting into negative thoughts about what you don’t want, you can shift your focus to this list instead. Stay out of the past, thinking about what this person did to you before. Stay with the immediate pain and how you would like that rectified if possible.

6. Bring Consciousness Into your Request

Talk about how you wish to let go of the past and go on from this time. Speak of how you are willing to let go of certain behaviors that you have. Think that you are willing to let go of some of your selfishness in perceiving this person’s behavior as personally disrespectful rather than unconscious behavior. Allow yourself to be more detached when responding to them.

All of these are wonderful steps for overcoming anger, and I wish you the best of luck!

If you have a question about “Overcoming Anger,” or if you wish to explore your karmic habit, you can write me at Ask The Spiritual Explorer.

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What is Spiritual Awakening?

The Spiritual Explorer On … Spiritual Awakening?

Dear Spiritual Explorer: What does spiritual awakening mean? Thank you. Carmen R., Austin, TX

spiritual awakening

Spiritual Teachings of Ramana Maharshi

Dear Carmel: When I think of spiritual awakening, I think of the phrase “Who is it that wakes up?” which is reminiscent to me of Ramana Maharshi, the great Hindu saint and guru who would often remind his disciples to recite the mantra phrase, Who Am I? I met a gentleman who met Ramana Maharshi at the tender age of 4. He related that the emphasis on Who am I? was on the “I” rather than the “am” which lends a whole different take. Asking Who am I with the accent on the “am” it brings forth perhaps an exploration into one’s respective roles in life as husband, wife, father, mother, son, daughter, etc. As one emphasizes the I, it is felt that the ego being attached to the “I” begins to dissolve and luckily, as the I dissolves, the true Self appears. You can read more about this in The Spiritual Teachings of Ramana Maharshi.

What is spiritual awakening?

I have long been on the path towards a spiritual awakening, sometimes forgetting or falling off the path because it is a difficult one. When I think of what spiritual awakening is, it is literally to be no longer asleep. I think of my initial spiritual awakening through reading the story of a great enlightenment teacher, Gurdjieff’s interaction with another mystic philosopher, Ouspensky. Ouspensky realized that the barrier towards knowledge lay in oneself; that one couldn’t find truth without simultaneously laboring to becoming the truth. Ouspensky came to live with Gurdjieff so that he might become more aware. Gurdjieff asked that he remain indoors during the six-month tutelage. At the end of the six months, Gurdjieff and Ouspensky took a walk and  Ouspensky cried out to Gurdjieff, “Gurdjieff, everybody looks as if they are sleeping.” And Gurdjieff responded. “ Ouspensky, that is because you are now awake.”

How does spiritual awakening occur?

What does spiritual awakening mean? It means that for the most part we have come to believe in the illusion around us; we buy into the story of who we are, what we are and what we are to do by the various illusionists around us who are likewise drawn into the same story and perpetuate it. However, when one begins a spiritual awakening, sometimes through a terminally diagnosed illness or a catastrophic event, one begins to see that what is important in life is either a lie or an illusion. Unfortunately, even as I write these words, I cannot explain in words what the experience is. To see in a real way one must either have become “disillusioned” by so-called reality or have already begun the initial step towards realizing a truer reality.

The experience of spiritual awakening

The actual on the way experience of spiritual awakening as explained by some teachers, gurus or mystics appears to be that one begins to feel non-attachment to so-called conventional reality or what some might call non-duality. Some people seek enlightenment thinking it to be a blissful or ecstatic experience. As one continues on the path, sometimes those things happen. However, it is not the goal of liberation. It is really when one begins to distinguish between what is “real” and the “story” perpetrated. Some have experienced it as a cessation of thought. For others it is when gradually one begins to remove one’s attachment to things, people and places that perhaps offered them either solace or attachment. One sees the futility of grabbing onto what one has previously thought as meaningful. Spiritual awakening is actually a time of more freedom where you are no longer constrained by habitual thoughts and feelings that previously kept you and your mind imprisoned. One feels drawn to more meditative practices.

What spiritual awakening requires

There are not many awakened spirits in this life, but there are many of us who strive towards that experience. Some fall by the wayside because it is not easy to renounce comforts or illusions that one previously habituated to. In fact, the road to spiritual awakening can be a stripping away of consolation. Some people have described it as an initial feeing of emptiness; some have confused that feeling of emptiness with depression, thinking that there was something wrong with them. Feelings like that can perhaps prevent one from continuing on the path. Doubt starts to creep in and you forget your path, perhaps lingering more in the illusion, feeling a modicum of comfort by doing so.

Perhaps those delights that gave you feelings of happiness now feel like dust in your mouth and you find yourself drawn to going inward and becoming more silent. Some have related the spiritual awakening experience as no longer attracted to the same relationships or experiences that were previously meaningful. When one is serious about the path and committed, they then become grateful to the experiences and consequent loss of illusion necessary to continue.

An arduous but rewarding path

Spiritual awakening can be an arduous path, but at the end provides you with a greater freedom than you can possibly understand initially. It is initially a path of disappointment. Few understand that and make attempts to cover up feelings of emptiness with perhaps trips to Europe or starting new relationships. However, the true spiritual aspirant welcomes the loss of illusion, seeing it as an awakening to another reality that will eventually bring them the joy they have long awaited. This is where faith in oneself must abide because truly the path to spiritual awakening requires the utmost faith and adherence to the path.

One spiritual teacher said that if you begin to not resist and surrender to what you see in front of you, your path could become easier. If you however resist the inevitable, you will only incur difficulty and hardship. At every juncture on the path, these are your challenges. Good luck to all who aspire on this path.

If you have a question about “Spiritual Awakening,” or if you wish to explore your karmic habit, you can write me at Ask The Spiritual Explorer.

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What is Healing?

The Spiritual Explorer on … What is Healing?

Dear Spiritual Explorer: I have a physical condition that I have struggled with for many years. I have tried all kinds of remedies, natural and conventional, and at this time in my life, I ask you and myself: what is healing? Rose P., Ottawa, CANADA

what is healing

Mantras for Precarious Times

Dear Rose: I had a friend who passed about 10 years ago who had cancer for about 25 years. During that time she availed herself of chemotherapy, radiation and vitamins she swore by. She also used the services of acupuncture, herbal healing, and other alternative remedies. What was remarkable about her, despite the fact that she survived for so long of a time, was that if you were fortunate enough to be in her presence, you would feel uplifted by the radiance she seemed to express. In fact, people would just drop by her antique store almost daily to see how she was. I know it was not only to chart her progress, but also to be inspired by her. She was definitely not her disease and she refused to be engulfed by it. When I met her, I began to explore the question of what is healing? Before I forget, however, I want to also mention the chanting of a wonderful mantra, Om Sri Dhanvantre Namaha in Deva Premal’s Mantras for Precarious Times, which can sometimes empower you in a moment of despair. Dhanvantre is the Hindu God of Healing and saying his name can if not bring about healing, may restore a measure of hope.

Changing my view of what is healing

Up to the day she passed, my friend refused to be limited by her illness and in fact, when she could no longer walk, bought herself a fire engine red truck which miraculously hoisted her up to the front seat. Don’t ask me the mechanics of that. I spent a lot of time with her, and while they have many more sophisticated drugs to deal with nausea at this time, unfortunately she would have a terrible bout of it after one of her treatments. When I would meet with her at her home afterwards, she would excuse herself, go into the bathroom to throw up, take a shower and come out with a clean t-shirt and say to me, “What’s up for tonight?” Again, she changed my perspective on healing many times when I would explore the question of what is healing.

A personal story of what is healing

Today when I think of asking the question of what is healing, I think of another friend of mine who lived with a spiritual teacher, whom many people thought had special powers, one of which was perhaps physical healing. One of her friends asked her one day when she too faced cancer and dying, whether she thought her teacher could heal her. Her answer, from her very deepest place was, “I don’t expect her to heal me, but I do know she will help me die.” This person was yours truly and I had to ask myself that question of what is healing many times during my adventure with Hodgkin’s lymphoma. I survived.

Many people asked me how I survived, and having been through all the New Age juice and alternate therapies, I have to admit I was pretty skeptical. I hadn’t met anyone who was actually healed with just doing juicing and enemas. I also considered perhaps traveling to Mexico where there were many adjunct therapies to partake of. However, my decision was to stay at home since I would be surrounded by many friends and family and would not have the same experience were I to travel far away. As it turned out, the question of what is healing began to be answered in the form of being surrounded by friends and family who were very supportive. I felt that they bolstered my immune system. I also felt that my unwillingness to be drawn into feeling sorry for myself and seeking empowerment and opportunities in any way I could was also perhaps responsible for the fact that I survived. And yet others with similar attitudes and support systems do not survive. And many of them were much more aggressive than I in seeking out remedies and supports. So basically, I think of the question of who lives and who dies is a “crap shoot.”

When people asked me how I survived, I told them I watched a lot of Law and Order SVU, which I did daily. There was the victim (me) the heroes (Benson and Stabler) and for the most part, there was a good outcome (not all the time though). They were to be my pseudo visualizations.

Humor contributing to healing.

I also began to see a lot of humor in my situation including how people responded to my illness and various other circumstances which occurred which brought out a humorous response. In short, I laughed more that year of my illness perhaps than any time in my life.

The next year I underwent open-heart surgery. I have to say it all began to seem so ludicrous to me. The juxtaposition of these illnesses in some crazy way I think actually contributed to my humor. I got the message that I either laughed at my situation or I was a goner.

And so finally, for me the answer to what is healing really has not much to do with actual physical survival. It has come to mean that my heart remains intact, that I stay open as much as I can to the love that is offered me, and that I express as much kindness and sympathy to all others who while perhaps not physically suffering, also suffer through mental and emotional distress.

So, Rose, from my vantage point, that is the best I can think of when I think of what is healing. I also strongly suggest you get that you get Deva Premal CD because saying mantras truly works on the mind which is what we have a better chance of improving than sometimes our physical illnesses. And it is my belief at this time in my life that illness, if viewed properly, can be seen as a challenge and spur to seek wisdom and connection to our spirits. Try to stay connected to those who can inspire you to use what is happening to you to further your life and spirit.

If you have a question about “What is Healing,” or if you wish to explore your karmic habit, you can write me at Ask The Spiritual Explorer.

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