Anger has had a bad reputation since ancient times. The early Christians, for example, considered wrath one of the seven deadly sins that had to be absolved through confession and penance. In Buddhism, anger is one of the five hindrances―the destructive emotions that bring confusion and misery. Even today we often describe anger as a dangerous force that needs to be squelched, controlled, or at very least, “managed.”
At the Chopra Center, we’ve found that treating anger as a villain we must escape or wipe out doesn’t help anyone in the long-term. In fact, such an aggressive approach only generates more negative feelings. Instead, we help people understand what anger really is and how to hear the valuable messages it sends. In addition, we teach many practical tools for creating harmony and a sense of wellbeing, knowing that whatever we focus on grows and expands in our lives. Please see the box at right for more information.
Anger’s Toll on the Body
Numerous studies have revealed that prolonged anger―even in the more subtle forms of resentment, impatience, grouchiness and irritability―contributes to many major health problems, including:
- high blood pressure
- heart disease and hypertension
- depression and anxiety disorders
In addition to the health risks, when you don’t express your anger in constructive ways, you can cause serious damage to your personal relationships, your career, and the overall quality of your life. Chronic anger tears away at your peace of mind, destroying your happiness and fulfillment.
Clearly, it’s important to cope with anger and release it in an empowering way. In addition to meditation, yoga, music, and the other valuable tools the Chopra Center offers through thePerfect Health and Emotional Freedom programs, we’d like to give you a simple process you can use right now if you’re dealing with a difficult situation:
The True Nature of Anger
Anger isn’t a simple emotion, and it feels a little different for each of us. If you’re experiencing anger right now, pause for a moment and try to describe the sensations you feel. Here are some of the common words people use to convey how anger feels:
rage, sick, hurt, frustrated, shaky, tense, uncomfortable, upset, physically ill, numb, embarrassed, tearful, offended, misunderstood, apprehensive, sad, nauseated, vengeful, loss of composure, out of control, confused, agitated, exhausted, overwhelmed
Anger isn’t easy to describe in only a word or two because it’s actually a secondary emotion―a reaction to fear. If you become angry when someone cuts you off in traffic, the underlying feeling is fear . . . you may be scared that their action could have caused an accident, damaged your car, injured your body, or even resulted in your death. The other driver has acted with seeming disregard for your existence, and you feel the threat in your very core.
Whenever anger rises in you, you can be certain that fear is at the root of it. Someone has acted in a way that violates your sense of how things should be, and you perceive danger, whether real or imagined. Your body responds by increasing the blood flow to your muscles, speeding your respiration rate, and producing a surge of adrenalin.
These physical reactions are all part of the flight-or-fight response that evolved thousands of years ago. Our ancestors needed this immediate reaction so they’d be able to run for their lives from a saber-toothed tiger or fight off other predators.
The fight-or-flight response was invaluable in the past, but today most of us don’t face eminent threats to our lives on a daily basis. Nonetheless, when we feel threatened, even by something as small as an unreturned phone call or a critical remark, our body still gears up for a stressful event. If we have chronic angry reactions, our immune system begins to weaken and we risk serious illness.
Fortunately there are many valuable practices that can help us go beyond our primal fight-or-flight response. We don’t have to react with automatic anger or fear, but can learn more effective, adaptive responses that will help us live longer and more happily.
A Few Suggestions
Even when our mind is filled with anger and agitated thoughts, we all have access to the inner stillness and peace that always waits for us beneath the choppy surface of thought and emotion. The way to enter this space of expanded consciousness is meditation. A regular practice helps us to go beyond turbulence, releasing stress, fatigue, and emotional turmoil, including anger. At the Chopra Center, we teach Primordial Sound Meditation as a simple, natural way of accomplishing this goal.
At this powerful five-day retreat, you’ll learn practical techniques for greater physical and emotional well-being. Experience daily massage treatments, cleansing Ayurvedic therapies, and customized instruction in Primordial Sound Meditation – all in the loving setting of the Chopra Center.
At Emotional Freedom, Deepakand David will guide you through a unique healing process that has transformed the lives of many people coping with stress, divorce, loss, break-ups, and painful family relationships. If you want to let go of the anger, pain, anger, and feelings that keep you stuck, you’re ready for Emotional Freedom.
Every sound affects our mood and body. When we listen to a beautiful song or the sound of ocean waves, our body produces chemicals that make us feel happy. Experiment with music to create your own sound therapy. If you’re feeling angry or overheated, nature sounds will calm you. The soothing sounds of Gregorian chants, Bach cello partitas, or Tibetan crystal bowls relieve stress and anxiety. And sometimes you may just need to put on Bon Jovi, turn up the volume, and release your anger in energetic dance. The Chopra Store offers a variety of music CDs and DVDs for sound healing and pure pleasure.
Yoga is not only a great exercise, but is also a powerful way to release anger and experience the infinite peace and silence of your inner self. There are certified Chopra yoga instructors throughout the world and daily classes at our Center in Carlsbad, California. Or join us at theSeven Spiritual Laws of Yoga Retreat, a four-day immersion into deeply healing yoga and meditative practices that will help you let go of anger and experience happiness and well-being.
Call 888.736.6895 or click here to request more information