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Emotions - Working with Anger

by Michelle McDonald

Anger seems to be an emotion that people have a lot of difficulty with, so I'd like to talk about how to deal specifically when such an emotion occurs. Say you're sitting and anger appears and you think, "Oh no - anger!" - that's resistance. But what about, "Oh, great, anger!"? Do you see the difference? We are usually very accepting of the moment when the bird sings, but with anger it is more difficult.

I've exaggerated this over the years just to learn how to work with it, so that when anger appears, "Great, this is another opportunity to learn how to work with this and make friends with it, rather than try and batter it away into repression". Then there's no freedom, because we're always unable to work with it. If you're very clear, especially if you have a lot of energy, when anger arises and there's no resistance, it's very, very pure. The ability to just drop into the body and feel it as body sensations - there might be heat, or pressure or tightness, and you just get out of the way, it's like letting a volcano erupt if it's very extreme.

A few years ago, I did a retreat on the Big Island and during the retreat the volcano erupted and I'd never seen it before, it was like this liquid fire just pouring up into the air. It was the first time in my life that I actually had the sense of this energy and how to work with it, it's just like the energy the earth has, and if you step out of the way, you can just let this energy come and go. It's built up pressure usually, it's heat and it's fire, and it's pressure and it's wonderful if you can get out of the way. It's usually not that pleasant, but it can be joyous just to feel it as an energy and let it come and go. There's nothing more joyous because you're no longer a victim of it anymore, you no longer have to run from it anymore. This is a quote from Ryokan.