Author Topic: Letting Go of Anger  (Read 3198 times)

Purple

  • Member
  • No one told me this would be so boring.
    • Independent
    • One mistake after another...
Letting Go of Anger
« on: June 16, 2013, 09:44:16 PM »
I don't like my job. I'm sure many of us don't. I've been waiting tables for a long time and, quite frequently, the public is just unbearable. I'm a writer struggling to make that my full time job but, until that glorious future materializes, I'm a server.

Vipassana has greatly helped me stay sane at my job but the main thing I can't get past right now is anger. When I get irritated or fed up with the job, I recognize the anger that arises. I feel it boil in my belly, I feel myself withdrawing, I see what it does to my balance and sanity.

Yet I can't let it go. I watch it pop up and wreak havoc, I know where it comes from, but I can't let it go. I'm the man holding the burning coal looking for someone to throw it at.

Any advice here?

amusiathread

Re: Letting Go of Anger
« Reply #1 on: June 17, 2013, 04:43:57 AM »
I'm not the most experienced meditator here, and my own practice is less specifically vipassana and more an assortment of different practices and ideas. But I can relate to having served tables for an extended period of time. I'm at a loss for how someone could bear that job without practicing meditation and trying to cultivate mindfulness. Here are some ideas and observations that got me through it.

The rhythm! Feel the rhythm of the day, be mindful of it, try to enjoy it. Anyone who's worked at a busy restaurant will know what I'm talking about. It flows, kind of like a basketball game. It's a great metaphor for how the rest of life flows, a lot can be learned from it.

Waiting tables is weird, when you think about it. Zoom out your perspective, think about it on a larger scale, and it looks pretty funny and amusing. It takes a very silly species to come up with restaurants and food service. Up close, the situation is pretty miserable, but from the right perspective, it borders on hysterical.

Remember that a person's entire life led up to their experience at your restaurant. For some of those people, it's going to take a lot more than a good meal and good service to make them happy, you have some real BS working against you. But sometimes, you're the grain of sand that tips the scale and makes a difference in someone's life.

Some of my favorite experiences waiting tables happened towards the end of the shift when the whole day had been crap, and I had to tell myself to hold on just a bit longer, and in a moment my whole day was redeemed. Be patient and open to your experiences, and you'll be surprised how good some of them can be.

I feel your pain, I wish you luck. Make it all worthwhile and write good books!

Masauwu

  • Member
    • chipping away
Re: Letting Go of Anger
« Reply #2 on: June 17, 2013, 05:40:41 AM »
Hi Purple,

Bringing the practice from the sitting to everyday life should be the most effective method. In my opinion that means constantly resting your attention on an object, noticing when stuff arises (like anger) and then bringing the attention back to the object. The object depends on what you are doing at the time - it can be the breath most of the time, a particular activity that requires more focus when needed, the physical sensations of body and posture and so on. Patience and determination are important, whether you forgot to return to the object for a minute, an hour or six hours the prime directive is to go back to it and try to keep the attention alert.

One of the problems i notice with anger situations is a lack of acceptance that creates conflict. Most of the events that cause anger in my experience can be summarized as things that happen not in the way that i want them to happen. That's unhealthy, since things will happen whether i want them or not, all i can work on is my response to them. And that would be the mindfulness practice in daily life; getting from being lost in the content rollercoaster to being a lucid impartial observer.

I think we are programmed by our upbringing, culture and animal instinct to react, but we can change that default setting with practice (lots of practice). I am waiting on this table and this guy is being an asshole, i want to punch him in the face, his disrespectful attitude hurts me deeply. First, i have to accept those feelings just arose in me, without the guilt of the default setting which says i just thought those. Notice the anger, notice the physical sensations caused by it, back to the breath. It helps a lot if you zoom in your focus on the object - not just a brief moment when the inbreath sensations are easiest to notice and then a brief moment when the outbreath sensations are are easiest to notice - but apply a microscopic zoom in, look for the moment the inbreath starts, follow it closely as it continues, look for the moments it stops, follow the pause before outbreath and so on. As you sharpen your mindfulness, anger gradually runs out of places to nest.

There's also something to be said about understanding those people that hurt us, because i noticed in some cases that anger subsides when seeing where they are coming from. Many times they just don't know any better and might even be in a darker place than us and not knowing how to deal with it.

Quote
Whatever a monk keeps pursuing with his thinking & pondering, that becomes the inclination of his awareness.
"Dvedhavitakka Sutta: Two Sorts of Thinking" (MN 19), translated from the Pali by Thanissaro Bhikkhu. Access to Insight, 25 February 2012
The summer river:
although there is a bridge, my horse
goes through the water.

Re: Letting Go of Anger
« Reply #3 on: June 17, 2013, 05:41:46 AM »
hi,

I am currently having the same problem and the only solution i have found is constant awareness of present. If I lose the awareness the anger, it consumes me so i have to keep myself aware of the sensation of anger as long as it stays. I am guessing if i keep doing this it becomes second nature of observing anger sensation like the fear that i am very much comfortable with now. Only problem for me is anger doesnt arise as frequently as fear (also when the anger arises i am around other people and is hard to observe unlike fear) for me to work with it. So i cant miss any opportunities that origin.

Dharmic Tui

  • Member
  • Something
    • Some Theravada, some secular
Re: Letting Go of Anger
« Reply #4 on: June 17, 2013, 11:54:54 AM »
Someone wrote somewhere the greatest cause of suffering is in wanting things to be what they cannot.

I've been in a similar boat to you Purple, I found myself in a job which wasn't what I expected that I really disliked, and I spent so many hours of every day lamenting my position which I felt to be terminal and out of my control. But I came to remember the old mantra when life gives you lemons, make lemonade. Instead of casting myself as lead character in some sort of tragedy, I threw myself at my job, stopped caring, and now that same job is now the best job I've ever had. It's not as glamorous or prestigious as other things I might be doing, but I've really come to master it, and also go about my work affairs with a sense of trying to do what's right by everyone I deal with.

So I don't know, you can either adjust your perspective towards your current position, change your job, or continue to suffer.

redalert

Re: Letting Go of Anger
« Reply #5 on: June 19, 2013, 12:38:11 AM »
Hey purple,

As a contractor, I have had to deal with designers, picky rich egomaniacal customers, and real estate agents, pretty much the bottom rung on the ladder of humanity. My co-worker and I make a joke "it doesn't look at the designer, it doesn't talk to the customers, it puts its head down and works quietly". We are the its. Whenever someone is overly demanding or rude or disrespectful to one of us, we just think of ourselves as an it (not worthy of having feelings) this usually gives me a chuckle and helps me to maintain a level of detatchment towards the job. When I get to attatched to the deadlines, money issues etc... the stress starts to build automatically, I'm fortunate that my co-worker has a great sense of humor and has a gift with saying the right thing at the right time to ground me. Working with other servers you must have some people there that you can kid around with when faced with unconscious customers. Try introducing the "it" attitude at work, or watch the movie Waiting, some really good ideas in that movie. http://youtu.be/EqlAnrSD8qk

Meditation practice is excellent, but this is more of an ongoing process that will free one gradually from these sufferings. Keep practicing, keep purifying the mind, gradually your anger will decrease, in the mean time forgive yourself when you get angry and keep on practicing. :)

Purple

  • Member
  • No one told me this would be so boring.
    • Independent
    • One mistake after another...
Re: Letting Go of Anger
« Reply #6 on: June 19, 2013, 02:06:35 AM »
Thanks, everyone. Some really good thoughts in here. I appreciate the responses and will get to work implementing some of this stuff so I can stop being Mr. Grumpy Cat so often.

dimeo

  • Member
  • “What we think, we become.“
    • Mahamudra / Dzogchen
Re: Letting Go of Anger
« Reply #7 on: June 19, 2013, 03:39:38 AM »
 It's great you're bringing it to the path. You are recognizing the thought, and being mindful.  Anger is that poison of aversion which traps sentient beings in samsara.  It's pointless to waste our life pushing wheels around out of anger.
But I think it's ok to feel suffering.  It gives rise to compassion and understanding the suffering of others.


Quote
I can't let it go. I watch it pop up and wreak havoc, I know where it comes from, but I can't let it go

You talk about it like you need to physically let go of it.  Are you still thinking of it as some *thing* that's real?

What colour is it? What shape is it?  Where is it located in you? How long does it last?

What if when practising your meditation you recognize it, watch it, and look directly at it.  Look plainly at it until it dissolves.  In it's place you may find stillness and spaciousness.   Impermanence and emptiness is the nature of things whether we realize it or not.   

It's ok to feel emotions that are 'unpleasant'.  At times I've found some insight that my inner sensation is the same as experiencing the sensation of the outer world (like the sounds of the birds chirping nearby or a cat sitting on your lap).

This is the idea of "one taste" where all things are consciousness, and so all things are equally fine.  Imagine sensing your emotions is essentially no different than sensing sounds of the external world.  Perhaps with time your experience of emotion may feel 'just fine' like the chirping of a nearby bird.





« Last Edit: June 19, 2013, 04:07:53 AM by dimeo »

Vivek

  • Moderator
  • Member
    • Advaita & U Ba Khin's tradition
Re: Letting Go of Anger
« Reply #8 on: June 19, 2013, 06:48:40 AM »
Quote
You talk about it like you need to physically let go of it.  Are you still thinking of it as some *thing* that's real?

What colour is it? What shape is it?  Where is it located in you? How long does it last?

What if when practising your meditation you recognize it, watch it, and look directly at it.  Look plainly at it until it dissolves.  In it's place you may find stillness and spaciousness.   Impermanence and emptiness is the nature of things whether we realize it or not.
That is some great advice.
Let's go beyond this illusion, shall we?

Purple

  • Member
  • No one told me this would be so boring.
    • Independent
    • One mistake after another...
Re: Letting Go of Anger
« Reply #9 on: June 19, 2013, 09:24:18 PM »
I'm not talking about letting go of it physically. Though it has physical symptoms that I feel in my belly, muscles, and jaw, it's not a physical thing. I'd like to let go of it mentally and emotionally. I watch it rise internally and I try to meet it with compassion and kindness in the hopes of not identifying with it. But I keep latching onto it and getting caught up in it. That's more what I'm talking about.

dimeo

  • Member
  • “What we think, we become.“
    • Mahamudra / Dzogchen
Re: Letting Go of Anger
« Reply #10 on: June 19, 2013, 11:06:31 PM »
Quote
But I keep latching onto it and getting caught up in it.


What's your shamata practice going like?   

The thoughts decrease by mediating on the breath.  Seek refuge there.  "like a child in the arms of a loving mother"
Continually place your mind on the breath and rest it there. If it wanders bring it back and rest it there again. Being mindful you can observe if your awareness has wandered.   Soon, we begin to sense thoughts as very subtle and small.   The sense of self also fades.

When anger is one of the five hindrances or obstacles to achieving shamata,  reflect on how it arises during meditation and after. Our practice is for daily life, not just only when sitting for a moment.       Sometimes we want to feel angry because it feels right and gives us a strong sense of self.   I've read that ill will can be overcome through Metta meditation (loving kindness). 


Further teachings and insight meditation about selflessness can help.   Buddha taught the nonexistence of self.   We take the self to be real, as though it is some thing that actually exists.  As you meditate, resting in shamata, can you find this I or self?

You might think your body is you.  But your sense of self is a concept which is relative.  Are you in your head? Are you in your heart?  Your 'head' is composed of eyes, ears, nose, tongue, teeth.  "Head" is a concept for the collection of these parts. There is no self separate from all these components of body and mind.  Similarly a component is not the entire 'you'.  If you lose a body part the 'you' continues to exist.

Similarly, the ego relates it's 'self' to objects of reference.  Typically if we think "mine" it can often lead to suffering. Think of a belonging you'd consider "yours".  What makes it 'yours'?   Someone picks up 'your' drink.  But there is nothing inherent in it, no aspect that makes it 'yours'.  It is just another object.   

One day of my life, my car is my treasured belonging... yet on another day a tow truck is hauling it off to the scrap heap... worthless to me and no longer 'mine'. 



Quote
physical symptoms that I feel in my belly, muscles, and jaw

I totally know what you mean.  I sit to mediate and as I calm I soon 'discover' all this tension I've been carrying around.
Then my meditation quickly becomes focused on that.  Getting a massage or rubbing the muscles yourself helps. 
There some experts who published their work on bio-energetics -- how a persons psychology and physiology are really quite connected.    In the end it all can help whether it's massage, meditation, the resulting inner stillness,  or the resulting better sleep experience.
« Last Edit: June 20, 2013, 12:20:22 AM by dimeo »

 

Related Topics

  Subject / Started by Replies Last post
8 Replies
5198 Views
Last post February 07, 2011, 09:00:37 PM
by Morning Dew
10 Replies
5779 Views
Last post February 18, 2012, 03:05:12 PM
by Matthew
2 Replies
1499 Views
Last post March 06, 2013, 11:50:54 PM
by Dharmic Tui
15 Replies
5365 Views
Last post November 25, 2013, 07:53:56 AM
by Matthew
14 Replies
4811 Views
Last post November 16, 2013, 06:28:34 PM
by dimeo
0 Replies
2435 Views
Last post February 15, 2014, 05:47:32 PM
by Cani
7 Replies
1583 Views
Last post May 04, 2018, 11:16:48 AM
by stillpointdancer