Loving your monster
by Nancy B. Loughlin
Posted in News Press on October 15, 2013. Posted with permission.
When your monster comes out it’s often entitled. Anger is a normal human emotion. It’s our inner voice saying, “No!”
But, rage is different, one of those seven deadlies. Its goal is to hurt another or the self.
When honesty prevails, anyone can admit to nurturing rage. That ex-lover. The boss. Toxic families. And, admission is the first step, according to Madeline Ebelini, meditation expert with Integrative Mindfulness, Bonita Springs.
“Rage can be suppressed in the subconscious because it’s an emotion we’re not supposed to have,” Ebelini said.
Anger is maligned because you have been taught to repress it your whole life. Men are supposed to be calm, capable and in control while women are to smile and remain agreeable (*cough*).
Ebelini explained that when you are controlled by emotions like anger and rage, a very primitive part of the brain – the amygdala – is running the show. The term “amygdala hijack” was coined by psychologist Daniel Goleman, author of Emotional Intelligence.
“When the amygdala is hijacked, old patterns of reactive behavior and thinking learned in childhood take over. The amygdala narrows one’s focus and reprioritizes incoming information to the brain so that we tend to fixate solely on what’s making us angry to the exclusion of just about everything else,” she said.
So what to do when you explode? How can you not be rage’s captive regardless if the trigger struck today or 25 years ago?
Yoga and meditation are the go-to methods. Ebelini warns that not only can the practices uncover hidden emotions like rage, but also reveal the original causes: the unhealed wound, the wrong that should not have been inflicted. One may begin to feel the sadness, grief and fear that often reside beneath the rage.
This is the ugly side of yoga. If you step to the yoga mat expecting giddy happiness, go sit somewhere else. Yoga does deliver happiness, but it’s full of painful surprises.
It delivers honesty.
On the mat and in the cloud of extended meditation, you will unlock doors of perception. When you fidget in Pigeon or Frog poses and start glancing at the clock, you feel like you’re sitting in your baggage’s muck, and you run for cover. Sit in it.
The myth of physical exercise: There’s a popular marathon t-shirt that reads, “Running is my therapy.” This is misguided. Granted, miles pump your brain with feel-good chemicals. But the run or any other form of extreme exercise does not extract rage’s root.
If you do not have a solid meditation or grounding practice, angry people are advised to avoid extreme, heat-building activities like running, hot yoga or any workout that could push the body to capacity. Angry people have pitta tendencies and an over-stimulated third chakra, the seat of fire. Running can reduce stress, but it can also intensify the emotional experience.
Begin a Forgiveness Practice: Yes, you can forgive anyone. Remember one of the Four Agreements. Take nothing personally. Watch Leslie Neale’s Unlikely Friends: When Victims and Perpetrators Meet. When rage is replaced by forgiveness, it doesn’t mean that what that person did was acceptable. It means you are moving on.
One of the best forgiveness meditations is from The Power of the Subconscious Mind. “I fully and freely forgive [think of the name of the offender]. I release him (her) mentally and spiritually. I completely forgive everything connected with the matter in question. I am free, and he (she) is free. It is a marvelous feeling.”
Everyone has stories, and it’s tough to hate people once you know their stories.
Negative experiences are gifts; they are teachers: Every time someone harms you, that person has just taught you about the person you want to be. That person is poking at one of your tender spots, an insecurity, a fear. Sit and ponder it. Be thankful for the revelation.
And remember rage’s hypocrisy. Walt Whitman wrote: “You convicts in prison-cells—you sentenced assassins, chain’d and hand-cuff’d with iron; Who am I, too, that I am not on trial, or in prison?”
It’s a good question. Try walking with delinquents with passionate love.
For more information, visit integrativemindfulness.net.