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My Meditative Moments

Practice: Working with Anger

by meditative - June 22nd, 2011.
Filed under: Insight Meditation Exercises.

Abstracted from a “Tricycle” article by Sensei Nancy Mujo Baker

To make the practice of working with anger personal and precise, it is useful to explore the following kinds of questions. (This can be done individually, or with another person asking you the questions, then silently holding the space while you answer.)

First, inquire what kinds of occasions you find yourself getting angry:
• When do “I” get angry?
• What makes me angry?
• Do “I” get angry when I’m criticized? Ignored? Not getting my way? Do “I” get angry at someone who treats others badly?
• Do “I” ever displace my anger onto the wrong person, or take anger at myself out on someone else?
• What happens when “I” get angry? Does angry language pop out of me- or what other actions follow from my anger?

Next, inquire into the flavor of your anger:
• How do I typically get angry? Is my anger hot or cold? Is it quickly discharged or a slow burn?
• Is my anger suppressed, denied, or hidden?
• Do I walk around with simmering resentments day after day?
• How is my private anger different from my anger at public figures or institutions?

If you have difficulty expressing anger or even recognizing that you’re angry, ask yourself:
• When do I have difficulty expressing anger?
• With which sorts of people am I reluctant to express anger? Family members? Friends? Men? Women? Employers? Authority figures?

Finally, ask yourself about any old angers you’ve been carrying around for a long time. (Sometimes we have to dig deep to uncover them.)

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