Weekly Meeting Time and Location
Please contact Patty Meyers at:
Short Description of MI Sangha
Mindful-meditative practices and teachings in the tradition of renowned Zen Master, Thich Nhat Hanh. Our evening begins with Mindful-Movement followed by sitting and walking meditation. We end with a Dharma reading/discussion.
Good old anger! Nothing to get the heart pumping and the old adrenaline flowing. Just thinking about all the wrong being done to "me", "my" family,"my" friends is bad enough but then there are images on television, on the internet, everywhere of abuse, demoralizing hateful harmful, acts that we humans do to each other and then good old anger rises up out of the depths, where its been lurking around waiting for its chance to pounce.
Some people are afraid of their anger. I understand it but for the most part this is not true for me. There were two emotions taught very well to us growing up, anger was one and I forget the other one. There are those old faithful words, "if you'd been through what I've been through, you'd be a tad angry yourself". Anger is like a fire, once you fan the flames and take a couple of steps back, and watch the "powerful" effect the rush of self justification is fully ripened. Add a couple of gallons of petrol and "all powerful" Anger can burn down a town. That's the way anger has been for me. I guess it would be harder if you were afraid of anger and never got the rush of lighting the fatal match, it would be harder to sense the sheer (unknown or forgotten momentary) power and release that blowing the flames of anger brings. Maybe its a cultural thing? That's what I tell myself. Maybe we Irish have that passionate, hot-blooded flame; maybe we've been through enough and want the world to pay for "our" pains "our" sufferings? Oh yes, we laugh, we tell jokes, dance, sing and drink merrily. We never hold a grudge, we burry the grudges BUT we always stake the ground of burial. In fact If a person didn't show a bit of anger at times we'd be a bit suspicious of that same being.
All right, maybe this has been a bit of an exaggeration (or maybe not for some of us). But sometimes its good to laugh at ourselves. In the "Big book" of AA, "anger is a luxury we cannot afford".
My friend Shantideva says: Anger, lust, these enemies of mine, Are limbless and devoid of faculties. They have no bravery, no cleverness; How then have the reduced me to such slavery?
When Anger is not taken care of, when it is in the background just waiting for that moment to explode, we are slaves to the anger.
Its funny isn't it? Well sort of funny, for years I knew to smoke was bad for me but I did it anyway. Not only was I addicted to nicotine, but I know when I started I was addicted to the the defiance, the offensiveness, the deliberate rule breaking, the rebelliousness, the feeling of grownup power and all those immature reasons why a kid starts smoking in the first place. The same is so very true about "my" anger. It is an addiction (well for some of us). Anger is an emotion, it is usually the same delusions of power that anger brings which causes us to harm each other in the most awful way, the same repulsive ways that make us angry in the first place. The morning after an anger binge can be just as bad as any binge drink hang over. Initially full of self justification of our words and actions but as the day wears on shame, regret and self hate can sneak in.
Who wants to hear "calm down, count to ten, etc" when you're in the middle of an anger binge? Well not I.
The thing about anger which I've obviously had lots of practice working with is to take care of it before it becomes explosive. This seemed difficult for me to do at first. How do you take care of anger that you don't even feel. So the first thing is to become completely mindful of what's going on, inside our bodies. Anger to me feels like an energy that rises hot from somewhere in my stomach. So first watch when something, not even something obvious at the time but something triggers that first little spark. THAT'S when we catch it, right there, at the spark level, the single second of discomfort, of knowing. We pay close attention to that point in our bodies/minds, we stay quiet, we wait and we take care of ourselves by soothing ourselves. As Thich Nhat Hanh says "like a mother who soothes her crying baby". Its okay, its alright, breathe, rest, breathe, is what do I need right now. Sometimes when we are lonely, tired, hungry or sick, anger can catch flame quicker. So Shantideva says "be like a log". Stay still. Breathe, relax. Take your anger for a walk, like its an old friend who just needs a little attention. The more we practice this the quieter and quieter anger becomes. When we feed anger as Fred Eppsteiner says, "if we keep feeding a hungry cat, the hungry cat just keeps coming back for more". The same is true with anger if we keep feeding it, It just keeps going back down into our "store-house" consciousness just as strong, just as ready as when it erupted the last time.
This is a tender practice. Anger is a human emotion. We (well I don't think we have to be afraid of it). It has its reasons for being just like every other emotion. It prepares us for the "fight or flight" response which helped us a lot when the Earth roamed with dinosaurs. Even now when we see injustice around us; anger is how our body tells us this is wrong, we need to do something. But we can respond wisely.
May we all be free from anger.