When we get angry, we often think it’s other people or things that create our anger. If this were true, there would be little we could do about our anger. However, learning to be mindful of our emotions and reactions to them through guided meditation for anger, can help us better manage our anger.
What is meditation for anger?
With the help of an instructor, guided meditation for anger will help you identify the feelings of anger and use mindfulness and focusing on the breath to better manage the thoughts and emotions associated with rage, resentment, frustration and of course, anger.
Meditation will also help slow down our reactions to our anger and better respond to situations and people that may upset us or make us mad.
Meditation for anger can be done one of two ways.
The first is a regular mindfulness practice which helps us improve or relationship to our emotions, including anger. This can be a short 10 minute practice done everyday to help us live more mindful lives. With enough practice, we can begin to see rises is emotions as simply another object of the mind. Another object that comes and goes, one that we don’t need to engage with. Practicing mindfulness meditation regularly may not make us less angry people, but it may give us more willpower to choose how we respond in situations that may make us angry.
The second is a meditation practice specifically for anger. This can be a practice done when you’re experiencing rage or anger, and need a way to cool off. This will be the practice we will detail and talk more about here.
Guided meditations for anger
What causes anger?
Whether you find yourself blowing up over what is seemingly the smallest and insignificant things, to getting upset to someone intentionally provoking you, anger is a natural response and negative emotion.
Often times, it can be the result of bottling up emotions over a long time and becoming more and more irritable until it is unleashed. Think of it as chipping away at a rock with a pickaxe until one blow finally shatters the rock into a million little pieces.
Other times, it’s an impulsive outburst that we’re used to having and we don’t really notice until we reflect later on how we reacted.
So what actually is happening here?
Anger is an evolved response from millions of years. The human being that didn’t react angrily to a perceived threat or annoyance usually was killed, stranded, or left without any resources to survive or reproduce.
Meanwhile, the fiercest and most aggressive human beings would usually wind up with the most control and resources. While they might not make the most friends along the way, they might live long enough to reproduce and pass on this behaviour.
Today, this kind of behavior and attitude to perceived threats isn’t always productive or even needed. We’re not a bunch of primates living in the jungles anymore. We’re a species that thrives on cooperation and community. Anger doesn’t help with either of those.
Our unconscious and subconscious judgements, insecurities, worries, fears, and beliefs can all affect how we impulsively react to people and situations.
If we feel like someone is wronging us (even though they might not actually be doing anything intentionally) we might have an outburst towards them when we feel like they’ve wronged us or when they annoy us.
If we feel like we’re not being recognized enough at work (even though we might be constantly praised behind the scenes without being aware of it), we might get upset or jaded when a colleague is promoted ahead of us.
So our perception of people and the world around us can also affect us emotionally and irrationally. This is why it’s important to train your mind and yourself to be mindful of your reaction when something annoys, irritates, and upsets you.
How meditation reduces anger
Anger, rage, frustration, resentment. These are all emotions that may seem like they’re influenced by external things. Our reactions to events, people, and the world is sometimes impulsive. We can get angry and worked up about something in an instant and not even be conscious of our reaction until it’s too late.
The reality is, we do have control over our reactions to external things. We can choose how we respond or how long we allow ourselves to be angry or upset over something.
How often have you reacted angrily to something, maybe even had a physical reaction to it, and then a few minutes later feel embarrassed wondering “why the heck did I get so worked up like that back there?”.
With regular meditation, we can become much more aware of the feelings of anger as they happen, and better choose how we respond to things, as well as how long we stay angry.
Meditation is not about trying to suppress anger or bottle it up. We’re human beings, and sometimes we have instinctive responses to things that annoy, upset, and frustrate us. However, with a regular guided meditation for anger practice, when we get angry, we can allow ourselves to feel the emotion and then allow it to pass instead of linger or exacerbate the feeling by reacting or responding to the feelings the wrong way.
If you’re simply feeling very angry and are having a hard time letting go of the feeling, meditation can also be a tool that is used to relax us physically and calm the mind. With this clear head, we can begin to look at our situation and what is upsetting us more rationally and without allowing our feelings of the situation influence our response to it.
Meditation can also be a tool used to help us cool off when we’re feeling really angry or enraged. Instead of directing this anger and energy on something we may regret later, we can use meditation to bring us back to a calm state. Because much of meditation involves breathing and watching the breath, it can help bring down the heart rate, and thus relax the body and mind.
How to meditate for anger
Start seated comfortably in a chair or cushion on the floor. Rest your hands in the lap.
With your eyes open, take a few deep breaths. In through the nose, and out through the mouth.
After about a minute, close your eyes. Bring your attention to your body. Notice your weight on the floor, or chair. Notice the physical points of contact such as your feet on the floor, your back against the chair, your hands resting in your lap. And just leave your attention here for a few minutes.
And now, bring your attention to your breath. Simply allow yourself to watch your breath here. There’s nothing you need to change or fabricate here, just notice the breath and the sensations of the breath. It could be the rising and falling sensations in the chest or stomach, it could be the cool air on the inhale, the warm air on the exhale. Leave your attention here for a few moments.
If you’re feeling any anger here simply see if you can notice the emotion without judging it… it’s not bad or good, it’s just there. Watch this emotion arise as if it were just another thing you notice with your attention.
Where do you notice this emotion physically? Is it in your chest? Your throat? Your head or stomach? Maybe there’s some tension in the shoulders, maybe in the jaw. If you notice the anger take a physical sensation, just watch it. What happens to it? Does it move? Does it dissipate?
And if you notice any tension in your shoulders or jaw, see if you can relax any tension in your body. Notice any change in your mood here.
Bring your attention now to the breath. Whenever you find that the mind has wandered or get lost in thought, or perhaps engaging with the anger you feel with thinking, gently return your attention back to the breath.
And now, gently, open your eyes. Notice how you feel. If you feel angry still, acknowledge it. Accept it. Watch it. If you feel differently, notice that mood.
Take another few deep breaths and transition back to your day.
Other ways to deal with anger
Guided meditation for anger isn’t the only way to help manage and deal with your anger, rage, and even resentment. Here are other proven and healthy ways to manage anger.
Work to understand your anger
Firstly and most importantly, it’s very important that when you’re starting to realize that your anger is a problem, that you then work to understand your anger.
Understanding your anger is first identifying and recording (in what’s sometimes called an “anger journal”) what are the things that set you off? What are the things that cause you to react angrily impulsively? Who are the people that seem to upset you the most?
From there, we want to have a working understanding of what or anger is actually doing and what it feels like. We can begin to ask ourselves questions such as:
- Why is my anger a problem?
- Who does it affect?
- What do I initially say or do when I get angry?
- What is my physical reaction to anger? Do I clench my fists? Grit my teeth? Is there a burning sensation in my throat or stomach?
- How do I feel after I get angry?
Finally, once we know what our triggers are and exactly what happens when we’re getting angry, we can begin to try to identify the root causes of our anger. Is it a personality flaw? Is it me trying to overcompensate for something? Is it an insecurity I have? And so on.
Give your emotions an outlet
This is the classic and cliched advice around anger but it’s true: don’t bottle up your emotions, instead, give them an outlet.
If going down to your local gym to beat up on a heavy bag for 20 minutes is an outlet, do it! If going for a walk around the block when you’re feeling ticked off cools you down, do it! If a simple activity like writing or journaling allows you to collect, organize, and arrange your thoughts before acting impulsively, do it!
All that energy that could go into an angry outburst could be put towards something much more productive and useful to you in the long run.
Find outlets, whether they’re hobbies or activities, that allow you to express yourself and use your emotions in a much more positive way.
Pause before responding or reacting
This is always easier said than done but when you find yourself about to get worked up or react to something, take a pause, count to 3, then see if it’s worth continuing.
Better yet, many people who manage their anger well, find take a few deep breaths when they feel themselves getting upset, helps them. Think about the breathing exercises you might do during a guided meditation for anger.
Sometimes we just need to talk about how we’re feeling, why we’re upset, or why we feel like we’ve been wronged.
Find someone you can confide in, or better yet, vent to. They don’t need to respond or even try to help. Sometimes just having someone listen to us get something that’s bothering us off our chest not only allows us to take a big weight off of our minds, it can give us a better perspective when we begin to hear how we feel out loud.
Maybe after venting, you might hear yourself and begin to realize: “Is being angry about this really useful to me?”
Find the humor in your anger
An often underused but helpful technique is using humor to diffuse your anger.
This is especially useful when you’re dealing with people who make you angry.
For example, if someone insults you, instead of blowing up at them and insulting them back (which will just lead to escalation, and at worse violence) use self-deprecating humor.
Here’s a specific example to give you an idea of how it would look:
Colleague: “Your last report that you submitted was terrible.”
Me: “If you didn’t like that report, you should have seen the ones before that!”
This is very disarming to the colleague who just made a rather rude and unsolicited opinion on my work. Instead of escalating or even responding in a way that shows their comment affected me, I use self-deprecating humor to disarm them.
Sometimes, we just can’t help how we react to situations and people. Some things and people simply get on our nerves.
Especially early on, when we’re beginning to learn how to manage our anger, it might make our lives easier if we just avoid triggers altogether.
Does reading Twitter make you furious? Delete your account.
Does driving during rush hour give you intense road rage? Find another way to get to work or try commuting later or earlier around rush hour.
If there are small or big changes that you can afford to make that will make you happier, why not do them?
Get help if your anger is out of control or leading to violence
Finally, if your anger seems to be beyond managing or it’s causing you to be violent and it’s interfering with your life, work, and family, it’s time to seek help.