Thursday, July 14, 2016

Working Through the Anger

Sometimes I can’t shake an emotion.

Right now, for me, it’s anger.

I’m not the only one.

The events in the past 30+ days, in which more people than I can count on all my fingers and toes have been murdered in unfathomable circumstances, forced all of us to see a very ugly side of our humanity.

Some have called for unity. Others are struggling not to blame someone or something. Some are already seeing a difference (see my friend’s recent blog on Huffington Post).

For me, these events and their wrenching images that cling to my mind have created a veil through which I now look at the world. It is a temporary veil, because I refuse to make it permanent, but it exists nonetheless. It’s a veil that makes it more difficult to see the spark in others that makes me smile; one that allows me to more quickly see the bad in someone than the good; one that weighs on and drains me.

What do you do? More specifically, what will I do? I will contribute to organizations that will take donations of goodwill and multiply their impact far beyond I as an individual could. I will search for demonstrations I can attend where I feel like somehow I’m not alone in my fear and frustration and our 
voices can be magnified. I will look for opportunities to extend kindness instead of hate. I will assess what I can do to change my own thoughts and actions in the days and weeks ahead.

All well and good, but before I attempt all of this, I need to let go of this anger.

So, when you’re part of the community of “new age” or “spiritual” folks; you’ll often hear about how sensitive everyone is. Terms like “empath,” “emotional sponge,” and “airy-fairy” get thrown around a lot. Talk of needing to establish stronger boundaries, keeping our distance from “energy vampires” and not watching the “heavy” content in the news pops up regularly in conversation.

It’s not that there isn’t truth to what’s being said (and yes, I consider myself sensitive), but I think we do a disservice to all of us when we single out a group of people as being more susceptible/impacted to the horrors of the world than others. No matter how sensitive you are or what guru you may be following or what you’re watching on the television, we are ALL affected by the horrors we’ve seen lately.

Sure it may get processed differently but we still all feel something when we watch a video of a woman hoping her boyfriend isn’t dying next to her while her four-year-old daughter sits in the back seat. We all feel something as we learn of the 49 lives snuffed out too soon simply because of who they were. We all feel something as we watch police officers not running for their lives but running toward the lives they have sworn to protect.

We all feel something.

So what do we do to deal with those feelings? I don’t have the answer, but I’ve learned a few techniques that have helped me, so I thought I’d share in hopes that they may help you too.

My positive focus: My family at the top
of Jisimdo island, which is shaped like
the Chinese character for heart.
Focus. This is a big one for me. When I have been pulled fully into a place of anger in the past (that’s right, this isn’t my first rodeo), I’ve learned that changing what I’m focusing on makes a difference. Thinking about something that makes me smile or uplifts me (often my daughters will do the trick for me), helps me shift my emotional state. You may have a vacation spot along the ocean or a big race you won or a time when dog kisses made you laugh until you cried. Whatever it is, use it. Picture it. Experience it again in your mind. Notice how your emotions shift, if even for just a moment. It helps.

Nature. Take off your shoes; take off your socks; walk in the grass. I love the feel of the soft ground under my feet. It allows me to connect with the earth more easily. You can actually give your anger to the earth. Imagine it as a color in your chest and make it travel down your torso, hips, legs, knees, feet and then right into the earth. Consider how the earth absorbs plants, animals, even our own bodies and transforms it all into healthy nutrients for new growth. You know it can take pure, raw emotional energy and transform it into something beautiful.

Breathe. It’s the first step in most meditations. Why? Because it allows us to pay attention to something other than our immediate thoughts. Then it becomes a doorway to focusing on our body, specifically, our muscles and the tension being held there. Each breath in allows us to take in new energy. Each breath out allows us to release and let go of the tension in our bodies. When our bodies are in a relaxed state, it’s nearly impossible to be angry.

Drum. That’s right, start a beat. I happen to have several drums, but you don’t need them. You can drum on the counter, drum with a couple sticks or simply drum your own chest. Drumming has been part of sacred ceremony for thousands of years. Drumming is considered a way to connect to Spirit and Mother Earth, establish a greater sense of balance in our lives, and be grateful for all that we have. If you don’t know where to start, begin with the beat of your own heart – then allow the beat to evolve into something more, listen to your intuition – let it guide you.

These are just a few suggestions. No doubt, you have some of your own. All I’m suggesting is use them. If we cannot get out of this state of fear, anger and frustration; we’ll find we just attract more of it into our lives. The more we as individuals can do to shift our own emotional states, the better chance we have of changing the states of the people and places around us. Consider it a drop in the water of humanity, with a powerful ripple effect.

Imagine the impact a ripple of peace could have today.