The Mindfulness Blog

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Anger Management

A few weeks ago, my wife tore an article out of the Wall Street Journal and presented it to me. The article was entitled, "Managing Anger in Angry Times". Is that the clue bus I just heard?

Anger, of course, can be a sometime useful emotion-- after nearly 40 years practicing law, I can certainly attest to that! But internalizing too much anger, for too long, can be really corrosive (think high blood pressure, inflammation or infection, heart disease, stroke and even cancer). That's some pretty bad stuff.

Can we keep anger from consuming us? Sure-- there are lots of alternatives: Consider exercise (the WSJ article quotes one guy who named his Peleton bike the, "anger dispersal unit"), or home therapy (the WSJ article also identified a woman who uses a technique she dubbed the, "hand scream"), or even professional therapy (the same article cited several experts who help to, "pinpoint the source", or "be strategic" in identifying good anger versus bad anger, or help people, "reframe the story".

My unsolicited advice? Try meditation-- it can help us manage a whole host of difficult emotions, including anger. Meditation can also help us become more mindful, which I believe is a natural ability we all possess to engage people, places and things with immediacy, and without any notion of past cause or future consequence-- without attaching any particular significance to an encounter, and without making a particular judgment as to whether an encounter is good, bad or other. Mindfulness if child-like, not child-ish.

Referring to meditation, Jon Kabat-Zinn said, the waves
are inevitable, but we can learn to surf! Another tremendously helpful observation (that didn't expressly reference meditation, but insightfully describes it) was articulated by an Austrian psychiatrist, Viktor Frankl, who noted that between stimulus and response, there is a space-- and in that "space", we can learn to skillfully respond, rather than blindly react. Finding that "space" is what meditation is all about, and trust me-- anger does not exist there.

How best to manage anger, in angry times? The concept of "best" is personal to each of us, but meditation is one of the tools that should be considered. It's certainly not a panacea for everything that ails us, but it's a practice that-- pursued regularly-- can provide a big assist!


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