In my early days of practising yoga, I got caught up in trying to be spiritual by suppressing my emotions.
Especially ANGER.Given that anger wasn’t an acceptable emotion to express within my family system, I was already pretty well trained in squashing it down!
Then somehow I got the impression from the spiritual teachings I followed, that anger was something we could learn to CALM down AVOID and DISTRACT ourselves from.
While meditation, mindfulness, yoga, mantras, breathing or visualisations can all be useful, healthy practices to incorporate into daily life, we can also use them to suppress, avoid or distract ourselves from the truth.
I had become an expert at containing my angry states while trying to be reasonable and nice instead.
With much therapy and spiritual inquiry behind me, I know now when I start boiling over with ANGER that it usually means another part of me is actually RUNNING ON EMPTY or HURTING in some way.
Recently, my son went through a sleeping relapse. I slept very little in the first thirteen months of his life and gradually with a lot of parenting by connection, much to my delight, he has become a good sleeper. That was, until last week when his sleeping became very difficult again.
And after two nights of it, by the third night, my RAGE kicked in. It happened very suddenly, Like something in me snapped!.I almost tipped over the edge which would have seen me, in desperation, become harsh and mean with my son.
But because he has generally been sleeping better, I have had more time to nourish myself with relaxation and inquiry. So this time around I had a little bit of distance. I was able to “unblend” from the habitual dynamic.
I could see the pattern.
Firstly I put in a heap of EFFORT.
THEN when no results come after TRYING AND TRYING – the RAGE kicks in.
AND the RAGE is trying to protect me from experiencing an almost unbearable feeling of despair and helplessness.
THIS TIME, rather than flying off the handle and blaming my son for my pain
I remembered to administer SELF COMPASSION first aid. I offered myself sweet kind words contacting the truth of my pain and normalising my predicament. Quickly the intensity of the inner turmoil settled.
My body relaxed and I started to feel more resilient. I could accept that eventually he would get to sleep and I would too.
Remembering to administer self-compassion is the difficult part.
I find the tricky thing about applying self-compassion is remembering to. And when we most need a kind, gentle attuned acceptance is often when we forget, get more caught up judging ourselves harshly or just believe we don’t deserve such tenderness.
Rather than making anger our enemy, or distancing from it, we can gain a lot through our spiritual practice, by welcoming it in as an important messenger. It might be trying to tell us that a part of us is in pain and needs to be heard.
When there is a loving, listening and empathic outlet for our RAGE there is no need for it to turn violent and cause harm. Like every other emotion, it will run its course and flow back into the universal river of love.