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  • Michael Craven
    started a topic Dealing with anger

    Dealing with anger

    Dear Ajahn,

    At times when I am at work and at home I've noticed many times when I've been frustrated by this or that. Since practicing as a Buddhist I've made a special effort to prevent taking action while in a frustrated mood rather than acting on it automatically. The difficulty I have found more in recent times is reoccurring stomach problems and pains in my body, which I think is due to repressed anger. I've tried to meditating on these feelings and watching them many times, but it does not seem to dissolve them. It seems the only way at the moment to release this is to do hard exercise or sing loudly to music. This is obviously a quick fix and not very skillful, can you please recommend a more helpful solution?

    Kind regards,

    Michael

  • Michael Craven
    replied
    Thanks, this has helped me a lot.

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  • Ajahn Brahmali
    replied
    Dear Michael,

    Yeah, be careful with repression. The trick is to allow the anger to be there without acting on it, and then to overcome it without repressing it. It can take quite a bit of training, so don't get down on yourself when you fail. If you do fail, have compassion for yourself. Our habits are often very ingrained and often there isn't much we can do to change them, at least in the short run. When you start to see this, you also acquire a sense of compassion for others when they do silly things. So self-acceptance is a step one, and you will find that much of the problem disappears already at this stage.

    The second step is to learn to allow the anger to run riot without acting on it, or at least avoiding taking it out on others. If you get angry, have minimum contact with others. Do what you have to do (pace up and down or whatever) and watch as the anger/frustration burns itself out. If you are able to stay with the feeling of the anger, rather than the object that created the anger in the first place, it will come to an end fairly quickly. However, if you allow the mind to keep focussing on the object that created the anger, it will remain with you for a long time, sometimes hours or even days.

    In the long term, I would recommend trying to develop a bit of metta, loving kindness. Find a nice guided meditation and do a few minutes every day, if you can. Try to change your perception of the things that frustrate you. Remember that people do what they do because of habit and delusion, not because they really want to make anybody's life difficult. If you keep at it, you will find that your perceptions start to change. And that's a truly wonderful experience. It does take a fair bit of commitment, but it can be done!

    With metta.

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