On Anger

Image from: http://www.APA.org/topics/anger

In my last blog post I wrote about losing my temper, a little about my health, a little about how upset I am with Trump and how all of this is affecting me in a profound way. People had a lot of different take-a ways from this post. I had people concerned for my well-being, I had people give me their thoughts on anger, I had people talk about Trump and their thoughts on why that whole mess was happening right now.


When I feel a strong emotion I tend to write about it. That’s how I get through to the other side. I always have, I’m just somewhat public about it now. I’m public not because I want people’s sympathy, but because I’m guessing a lot of people feel similarly and may even feel like they’re crazy. I’m partly here to say we all go through this human experience and we all deal in different ways – here’s how I do it. I’m also here on this blog because I think it’s important to spread loving-kindness into the world in whatever small way we can. This is my way. When I learn I share. I try to put into words what I think about, what I believe.

What interested me from this last post was the various responses I had to losing my temper. I was offered a consultation with someone who said: “there is something underneath the anger… some kind of wounding or belief… that is calling for healing”.  I felt that this person mistook my loss of temper on one occasion as a sign that I was walking around in anger all the time and then that anger spewed out of me all of a sudden. Not so. I’m pretty even keeled most of the time.

Another person wrote: “There is …a strong underground murmur in my feminist circles about giving space for our anger – that being nice and being well-behaved and, above all, not disruptive are patriarchal burdens placed on us and needlessly so”. This one I found very interesting and wise. My mother has often quoted the below, but replaced negro with woman.

To be a Negro in this country and to be relatively conscious, is to be in a rage almost all the time. So that the first problem is how to control that rage so that it won’t destroy you.
~ James Baldwin from The Negro in American Culture, 1961

I tend to agree. On both counts. However, I only experience being a woman, not black. Women are often silenced, even by other women – which is what frustrated me and led to my angry outburst at work last week. I’m not a woman to go ‘silently into that dark night’. When I feel dismissed, when I feel I’m not being allowed to speak, when I feel that someone is trying to put me in my place I rage! Is this a problem? Maybe, but maybe it’s what’s needed for change to take place. Maybe we women need to let our rage out and stop being polite, and well-behaved once in a while to remind others that we, too, are forces to be reckoned with.

I don’t like losing my temper. Not because I think I shouldn’t, but because it feels like a loss of control. I’m a yogi and control is kind of a big theme in my life. I aim control my breath, my thoughts, my body, in an effort to get closer to union of body and mind. But I never forget that I’m a human being first and foremost and human beings are flawed, they are emotional, they are inherently a little out of control. Having this human experience entails so much learning, so much depth, at times despair. And through it all we continually find our way back to equilibrium, to balance, to peace. Sometimes we need help along the way, sometimes professional help. Sometimes we need to find our way through on our own. Some will never find that balance in their lives and there’s likely a reason for that. We’re all on our own paths and we’re all doing the best we can. And sometimes that means we get angry. And that’s okay.

Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

~ From the poem by Dylan Thomas

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Losing my temper, losing my faith

Yesterday I lost my temper at work. You might think that I wouldn’t lose my temper because I’m a yogi, but as I’ve pointed out on many occasions on this blog, I’m a work in progress just like every other human being on this planet. This is one of the kleshas that I need extra work on in this life. And there seem to be no limit to the opportunities to work on it.

I’ve gotten much better over the years and I have quitting drinking and taking up yoga and meditation to thank for that. But still it creeps in at times, like a shadow taking hold of me. And in an instant I lose my temper. What that means in my case is I yell and storm out of wherever I happen to be, in this case work. Not good for my career path probably, but it’s happened now so now I deal with it. I get passionate about my work in a legal aid clinic. It’s important work and brings social justice to so many people that can’t speak for themselves. But sometimes I can’t accept what appears to be apathy in some of my co-workers. Is it apathy? Truly I don’t know – I can only imagine what’s in their minds. It just feels like apathy to me. There isn’t a thing I can do about it. So why fight it? Why not just continue to bring passion and enthusiasm to my job. Just accept what I cannot change. Most days I do. And then the shadow bites me!

I drew runes about this situation. And the results were interesting. (For those who are familiar with runes – I did a situation, action, new situation spread and the runes I drew were Thurisaz reversed, Fehu reversed and Nauthiz reversed – I’d welcome your thoughts on this!) The highlights for me were that the quality of your passage depends upon your attitude and that hasty decisions (like quitting my job maybe?) would cause regrets. Also, the situation rune talked about tempering impulses. Fehu asks us to look at what the lesson is in the situation. It reminds us of the shadow side of possessions and that doubtful situations come up all the time and we are always asked to look to where our true nourishment lies. Thurisaz reminds us that suffering is simply undergoing and reminds us not to suffer over our suffering. It also asks that we control our anger, restrain impulses and keep faith firm.

I was having a conversation with my mother the other day about feeling a little loss in faith. It’s hard for me to admit that because for a long time it felt unshakeable. I believed strongly in spirit and in the power of spirit to heal. I believed in the power of intention, the power of meditation as a tool for calming the mind, calming the soul, bringing peace into the world. I believed that if we brought more love into the world we could rise above anything. I believed we were making strides in bringing peace, love, compassion into the world. But a couple of things have me shaken. One is my own health. I’ve been doing healing meditations for many many years but still it looks like I’ll need a kidney transplant. Still I have arthritis after taking care to exercise and to eat right. Still I suffer from depression. The other thing that has me shaken is Trump supporters. I thought we were beyond such hate, but it turns out it was simply hidden. I realize when I’m in a good place that shining a light on the racism, misogyny, and fear is a good thing in the long run. But at what cost? I feel a little defeated by it. At this time when we need more love than ever, I feel like curling in a ball and crying sometimes – and I’m not even American!

So the runes telling me first and foremost to curb the impulse of anger is the obvious answer. But keep your faith firm is probably more important. What nourishes me? Not really my work in the legal aid clinic. My work in yoga nourishes me. But more than that my faith nourishes me. And I’ve turned away from it. So now I need to bring myself back to it and try once again to trust that spirit, the universe, god – whatever you like to call it – has a plan. And that the plan will result in something better than before. that as a world we are growing. That whatever happens in my own health will be okay.

I need to regain my faith.

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