Monday, June 11, 2012
The shadow of anger seems to sneak up on us from unexpected directions. On my way to a retreat I am getting in my car and a fritos wrapper from someone's trash blows into my driveway. "Damn," slips out of my mouth faster than a shooting bullet. I had to laugh. But that tightening of the jaw, furrowing of the brow, hardening of the heart, and little hit of adrenaline takes its toll. Where is my equanimity now?! And all that for just an irritating moment, what about when someone else is aggressive with me, or I am beating myself up? First step--time-out to notice and name. Second step--check in with body sensations. Hot, cold, tight, constricted, location? Third step--What is really happening? Anger is energy, not innately bad, even though there is a strong prejudice against it among the spiritual. Inquiry helps identify the shadow of fear hidden in most anger. Fear of loss of self and separation from others. Everyone wants to be safe. The habit of angry reactivity can open to compassionate inquiry. To rewire that habit takes practice. So we sit. Quietly. Watching monkey mind chatter defensively or offensively. Recognizing the fear and gently bringing oneself back to Truth, that stillness within the breath, that place of calm presence that is beyond/within the identified self. Practice. Taking oneself lightly. Watching the fritos wrapper blow about until I finally catch it.