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Guided Meditation for Anger

November 19, 2010

Is anger a difficult emotion for you? If yes, why?

In my family, anger simply wasn’t expressed. Being angry wasn’t allowed, the obvious conclusion being that it was a bad thing to feel. I wasn’t a child who could say “I hate you mommy!”, a perfectly normal thing for a young child to say. It’s taken a long, long time for me to find a healthy relationship with anger.

For others, the challenge with anger may be a different one, but I’ve had so many requests for a meditation for anger, that I know it’s a challenge for many people. I do hope this latest podcast meditation will help with some of the issues with anger, and would love to hear about your experience with it. I’ve thought about some reasons why anger can be so challenging and am sharing some of my thoughts as a background for the meditation.

Anger can be a very useful emotion. It can show us where we need to take action and gives us energy to do so. If the barking of a neighborhood dog or someone’s loud music is disturbing your sleep night after night, anger is a natural response. As part of the fight of flight response, it gets you to take action. Hopefully you can find a constructive way to confront the situation and resolve it.

Like every emotion anger is a natural flow of life energy. When allowed to flow freely, it passes through us. All too often, however, anger gets suppressed and doesn’t get released. That energy will then express itself in other ways, or lead to chronically tight muscles and other problems. What you resist persists, and suppressing anger actually keeps it around.

Another way of keeping anger going is to hold onto it by running stories in our minds about whatever it is that makes us angry. We may play something that happened over and over in our minds, thus extending the anger and not allowing it to resolve. Both strategies, suppressing anger and getting mentally involved with it, can cause it to continue longer than it needs to. It’s the ability to allow the anger to be felt fully that allows it to release.

Why would we hang onto anger? Sometimes anger is a reaction to another emotion, and covers up the original emotion. For example, if you feel hurt by someone, it may seem easier to feel the anger than the hurt. But unless you feel the underlying hurt, the anger will never resolve.

Anger can be difficult when it is accompanied by destructive thoughts. The thoughts themselves may seem unacceptable, or there may be a fear that they will be translated into action. The more we can feel the anger fully and allow whatever thought comes to come, the more choice we actually have about when and how to act. The ability to stay centered in ourselves as the observer of our anger gives us greater mastery over our behavior.

When to get help: Sometimes, of course, it’s important to get help with anger. If we are very angry a lot of the time or angry way out of proportion to the situation, counseling can help us work on unresolved issues causing the anger. And certainly if our expression of anger is interfering with our relationships, daily functioning or is destructive to others, professional help is needed.

I’d love to hear from you about your experiences with anger and what you’ve learned. I’d also love to hear about your experiences with this meditation.

Comments

27 Responses to “Guided Meditation for Anger”

  1. Eleanor on November 19th, 2010 7:29 pm

    Dear Mary,

    This guided meditation arrives right at the moment when I most need it! Thank you very much for your work!

    May your life be filled with peace and harmony,

    Eleanor

  2. Farnoosh on November 19th, 2010 8:27 pm

    Dear Mary, thank you for doing this podcast, I am downloading it to my iPod right now – I love your meditation podcasts and I had fallen out of practice but I am back on track – I used to get so angry all the time about the smallest things when I was younger …. now I realize none of it matters and I am a happier person. The root cause of it all was a very unhappy job and a major issue with my partner which we have since solved. Life is so wonderful now – especially with your podcasts! Thank you!

  3. Mary on November 20th, 2010 9:16 am

    Eleanor and Farnoosh, you are welcome!

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  5. Eleanor on November 22nd, 2010 7:25 am

    Dear Mary,

    Just want to say that this is an excellent guided meditation. It has provided me with a safe place to get in touch with my anger. This is the first time I really allow myself to feel the anger without fearing that I may say or do something hurtful. Instead of feeling uncomfortable, I can now face my anger in a more relaxed and gentle way. I will keep practising with the help of this guided meditation, as I know that I am a rather impatient person and need to learn how to handle my emotions in healthier ways.

    Thank you once again,

    Eleanor

  6. Mary on November 22nd, 2010 12:03 pm

    You’re welcome, Eleanor. Good to hear you are having this experience.

  7. Juan Ignacio on December 1st, 2010 7:55 am

    Mary, Hi. My name is Juan Ignacio, and I’m from Argentina. My english it’s not very well, but I will try. I’m new in this meditation thing. I have to tell you that the only guided meditation that truly helped me was yours. It has chaged my world, for good. I started to do this because I have serious anxiety problems. Ok, so, first I want to THANK YOU about your free podcast. I just can’t tell you how much I like them and how much they helped me. But this is my question: in many occasions you tell “If you feel tension somewhere in the body, just let it go”.. the thing is… I dont know how to do that. I think (without forcing anything) but I cant let it go (specially my jaw). Can you give me some kinf of tip so that I can do that? THANK YOU so, so much for your help. Ignacio.

  8. Mary on December 1st, 2010 9:46 am

    Hello Juan, your English is really very good! You are very welcome. I’m so pleased that meditation is helping.

    As for letting go of tension, simply allowing yourself to be aware of the tension and hearing those words can often cause some relaxation. There’s nothing you really need to do. All of the tension won’t dissolve all at once, but probably each time a little of it goes. You may not even notice.

    There are a few other things you can try. If you notice tension in your jaw, you can purposefully tighten it even more — exaggerate the tightness of the muscle. Then let it relax. Sometimes this helps. You can also let yourself relax around the area of tension, or imagine an open space all around it, and that may give it room to move. Finally you can breathe into the area of tension. Imagine your breath going into the tension and imagine the tension going out as you breathe out. Give these a try and let me know if any of these things help. The most important thing is to not try to force the tension out or make it go away. Let it be OK if it remains!

  9. Andi on December 9th, 2010 6:38 pm

    I did this Anger meditation last night for the first time because I was filled with anger over an incident at work. The meditation helped me to feel the anger in my body and I was able to “make space” for it. I was still holding the anger after the meditation, but when I got up in the morning it was resolved. The interesting thing is that the meditation allowed me to feel past the anger; I was able to feel the feeling of humiliation. It’s interesting how anger masks so many feelings in our bodies. This meditation allows you to embrance the anger as a natural “life energy”. This meditation was very valuable to me.

  10. Mary on December 16th, 2010 11:08 am

    What a beautiful report, Andi. Yes, that’s exactly it – anger is a natural life energy and often we find some other emotion underneath it. Great that you could go into the meditation so deeply. Reaching the humiliation allowed the anger to dissolve (as well as the humiliation). And it is the case that things continue to process after the meditation, so that in the morning you felt the shift.

  11. SpiritualLifCoach on March 22nd, 2011 11:24 pm

    I just had a bad day lately and I am in the mood to get angry. Thanks for this article because I was given a chance to meditate on my feelings and find how I could possibly resolve it in a healthy way.

  12. meditation on April 12th, 2011 11:50 pm

    Dear Mary, I love your meditation podcasts . i m in practice and i m feeling that i m back in life. before meditation i also stay unhappy due to my problem . like my job problem family problem . due to all this i m few up of my life but when i start meditation . i feel i m in peace . thank for giving information about meditation

  13. MeditatCushions on November 26th, 2011 1:20 pm

    The podcast was wonderful! The length of time, 12 minutes was great as it isn’t too long so looking at an uncomfortable and unpleasant emotion was beneficial. I found exploring and observing the underlying emotions that lead to the anger very useful. To observe the thoughts and not make commentary on them is very helpful in the process of letting them go.

  14. Amy on May 21st, 2012 5:36 pm

    I have been looking for a way to release some negative feelings I carry around. My main problem is anger, but I have many other vices too! I appreciate your mediations. Also the line above “what you resist persists” is a wonderful and eye opening idea. It can be applied to many areas of life (emotion, diet, fear), and I love the idea that acknowledging something can set it free. Thanks!

  15. Mary on May 22nd, 2012 2:19 pm

    You’re welcome, Amy. Yes, “the truth will set you free”! I think that in addition to acknowledging these feelings, feeling them fully is an important key. And also I’d say anger isn’t necessarily a vice in and of itself. It’s a reaction, often an appropriate one, that gives us information and inspires us to take action. It’s never the emotions themselves that is the problem, but how we handle them.

  16. Louise on December 12th, 2012 7:40 pm

    Thanks so much for posting this, Mary. I’m having trouble with controlling my temper and I keep having flare-ups of irratibility/anger over very minor incidents or comments by family members. Unlike your description at the beginning, I seem to have no trouble letting the anger out — but I’m hurting those I love the most by taking it out on them. I’d like to learn how to quickly defuse the reaction within myself before I overreact to events & other people. Usually I’m a very open and friendly person and I wish I could at least let the anger go and allow it to pass through me. I very much appreciate the important work you do for all of us out there.

  17. Mary on December 13th, 2012 4:05 pm

    Louise, you are very welcome. Hopefully this meditation will help with anger that is already “coming out” as well. It should help you to experience it fully within yourself, and “be with it” without having to express it in a way that isn’t constructive. You might also want to find ways to be more balanced in general (and meditation can help with this), and if it might help to have some counseling to see what the anger is really about. (That is if your anger towards your family members isn’t actually justified by what they are doing.) Good luck with it!

  18. Kayleen on September 30th, 2013 8:19 am

    I get so angry that it feels uncontrollable. I get so enraged, it doesn’t feel like a choice. Adrenaline rushes through my body and i feel my neck getting red and my muscles tense up and if i don’t release it by yelling or physically it comes out in tears. And I refuse to cry in this situation. It happens over silly things like when my manager yells at me for something meaningless or when i’m arguing with someone and they lie to my face or others are disrespectful and rude. So I realize I need help, and I came across your meditation.. just got done with it for the first time and I had a very emotional response. It’s more than just anger. there is a lot of underlying fears and hurt for various reasons. But your meditation helped me realize that. Thanks:) I’m still working on it, but right now I feel like it’s okay to see and feel the beauty when before I couldn’t let the anger go. I look forward to continuing these meditations:)

  19. Mary on September 30th, 2013 11:21 am

    Kayleen, I’m so glad the meditation helped. It’s wonderful that you were so open in listening to it, and could become aware of the other emotions that underly the anger. That’s a huge step. Wishing you the best as you continue to grow with this, and if you could find a good counsellor to help, that could make a big difference for you as well.

  20. Laura on November 3rd, 2013 11:25 am

    I have a really hard time feeling anger and not feeling guilty about it and thinking of all the reasons I shouldn’t be angry. I had a good experience the other day though…

    I ran into a big anger block while doing the Guided Meditation for Renewal (from June 2013). Ironically it was just at the point in the meditation that we were supposed to imagine all this energy going into the creation of new cells and the only energy I could feel at that point was anger :/ I found it both eye opening and disturbing (and was somewhat amused) about my cells regenerating while I was so attached to anger.

    I worked hard on letting go of my own judgement of the anger and just let it sit in my body and tried to acknowledge that area of my body (the anger sat in my forehead) in the same manner of the other areas. After a bit the power of the anger let go and I think I had the experience of getting to sit with it but neither give it the control nor specifically try to push it out.

    —-

    Thanks for your great podcasts, I find myself constantly mentioning them to my friends :)

  21. Mary on November 4th, 2013 10:36 am

    This is beautiful, Laura! It takes courage to embrace the feelings that we’ve come to feel are not OK. All emotions are a natural part of life. Anger serves a purpose, but can get distorted when it isn’t allowed to flow freely. And as you experienced, flowing freely doesn’t mean we have to act on it, but simple experience the energy of it. Thanks so much for sharing this experience and you are so very welcome!

  22. Therese Blais Matthies on November 21st, 2013 1:21 am

    Hello Mary, my computer is stuck on a French language and question marks etc..are not that they are French letters so I do appaulagize.
    It amazed me that what I thought was anger was actually pain,and the anger itself I can still feel it a bit after doing the meditation twice but sooo much of it is gone. When I began the anger left quickly but the pain in my heart I could feel my eyes well up with tears and because of my stroke it is not easy for me to be able to cry. So although it was a terrible feeling,it felt realy good at the same time. I would like to thank you for your awesome meditation and your help to help others..
    Rock,love and flow beautiful being xoxo

  23. Mary on November 21st, 2013 10:32 am

    Thank you for sharing your experience, Therese, and you are very welcome. So often underneath the anger is pain and true healing involves experiencing those deeper layers of stored emotion and pain. I also have found that feeling the pain, as difficult as it is, is also a good feeling. In those moments we have let go of resistance and are relaxed into the flow of life energy, and in that there is a feeling of connection and wholeness. I wish you well with your healing journey.

  24. Tshepang Lebelo on December 18th, 2013 7:27 pm

    Hi Mary. I really just want to thank you for this amazing piece. I found myself acting out what I’d say or how I’d behave when I finally confront the person behind the reason for my anger. At some point you said anger is an emotion that hurts us and not the other person. I feel so much lighter and I actually realised in the meditation that the emotion disguised as anger was sadness. Obviously won’t get into detail but I think I’m ready to let go…. this meditation will ensure that I do it the proper way. Thank you. ♥

  25. Mary on December 19th, 2013 10:45 am

    You are welcome, Tshepang! So often there is sadness or hurt under the anger, and getting to that is so important. Good to hear that you are feeling lighter!

  26. Laura Rinne on August 4th, 2014 11:33 pm

    Thank you! I googled “meditation to release anger” yesterday and found this. A blessing. The anger is there, very strong, but it’s tolerable with this meditation as a support.
    Warm greetings from Finland,
    Livpreet Kaur

  27. Mary on August 5th, 2014 2:20 pm

    You are so welcome, Livpreet. I’m glad the meditation helped!

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