Think back across the past week. Can you recall getting irritated at the news, or getting upset with your partner over a domestic situation, yelling at traffic that isn’t moving or fuming inside at the person who skipped the queue? Did you feel better for it? Probably not, in fact you might have done some harm to yourself.
I recently wrote of the 5 Reiki Principles. I explained that the principles are not only a great way for Reiki practitioners to remain balanced and strengthen their practice, but they are also useful tools for everyone to help manage the ups and downs of daily life. It is believed that taking a few moments at the beginning and end of each day to recite these principles can help cultivate overall well-being.
The Reiki Principles
Just for today, I will not worry.
Just for today, I will not anger.
Just for today, I will be grateful.
Just for today, I will do my work honestly.
Just for today, I will be kind to every living thing
I also promised to share with you some tips and techniques on how to incorporate these principles into your daily lives. Let’s start with – ‘Just for today, I will not be anger’.
It seems like a simple enough statement…until you sit behind that wheel of a car on a busy road, watch the frustrating news headlines, fight with a loved one partner or just encounter rude or angry people. It is at times like these that the ability to live a life without anger is challenged.
In my opinion, a little bit of anger is inevitable for the majority of us. Even the Dalai Lama is quoted as saying “Generally speaking, if a human being never shows anger, then I think something's wrong. He's not right in the brain.” Balancing this strong emotion through self-awareness and compassion can have a significant positive impact on our lives. Wouldn’t it be nice to live without anger?
According to Psychology Today sudden bursts of anger, or prolonged anger or irritation can eat away at our cardiovascular system, our gastrointestinal system and negatively impact the nervous system. Surprisingly, after it is expressed, anger does not automatically dissipate. Instead, it often feeds itself. This can, in turn, limit our ability to think clearly, often negatively impacting those around us. It affects our bodies in other ways too.
Anger is known to activate our sympathetic nervous system, which is useful when we’re in a dangerous situation and a fight or flight response is needed to survive. However, prolonged time in this space is followed by a feeling of fatigue, as this system uses up energy and depletes the body. “You will not be punished for your anger, you will be punished by your anger” is a quote attributed to Gautama Buddha. Subsequently, both scientific and spiritual practices are pointing us to a life where less anger is for the betterment of our overall well-being.
So, if we’re agreed it’s beneficial not to stay angry, what can we do to reduce the level of vexation in our lives?
The good news is that the practice of Reiki among other modalities such as meditation, for example, are believed to activate our parasympathetic nervous system. According to Dr. L Wilson the parasympathetic nervous system provides us with nourishment, healing, elimination and regeneration of the body and is concerned with rebuilding the body.” The parasympathetic nervous system, when activated by rest, relaxation and happy thoughts, is essential for balanced living and for all healing.”
Everybody is different and I am frequently sharing my belief that no one solution, process or method fits all. These are the steps that I have found useful in my personal quest to reduce anger in my life which you may find helpful.
The first step is self-awareness. If you don’t realize that you are angry and the negative impact it is having on you and those around you, how can you take corrective steps? Being more aware of your emotions can take practice and time. The practice of mindfulness can help you become more aware of the present moment rather than operating on auto-pilot.
Once you recognize your anger for what it is, forgive yourself. When I find myself being angry, often my initial reaction is to judge myself negatively and my self-critic tells me that I should know better. However, by reminding myself that I am human, after all, gives me that space to be non-judgmental while I come up with a plan on how to move forward without holding on to anger. It is at this time that I turn to the Reiki practice and initiate some self-Reiki. If you are not a Reiki practitioner, you can simply place one hand over your heart and one hand over your stomach and breath, staying in this pose for as long as you deem necessary. Some people use sport to undo their anger. You can also try some meditation, listening to relaxing music, being with nature or any other tried and tested way that you know helps you to become more relaxed.
The reasons for anger can vary. They can be simple causes, or something more complex. When I give myself the time to reflect, I often find that once I peel back the layers, the reason why I thought I was angry is not the root cause, but just a trigger. Getting to the root cause allows me to address it accordingly. I find The Work of Byron Katie very helpful here. If you are not familiar with her work you can find out more here.
Once I get to this stage, I find that most of my anger has abated. It may raise its head again, from time to time. If it does, I follow the same 3 step process and my anger lessens each time until it gradually disappears.
You may find that a different process works for you so take the time to figure out how you can best neutralize anger in a way that works for you. Take the time you need to implement your strategy and then adjust it accordingly once it’s been tried and tested. Don’t let anger get the better of you. It’s not worth it.