Meditation soothes the hot coals of inner rage and helps us suffer less. Through meditation, we teach the mind to ride the energies of rage without battle so that we become aware of what we deeply know and need in order to heal. When we meditate, we are training the mind to stop feeding a pain pattern—our disguises of rage that have been conditioned by how we’ve been touched by life’s challenges.
Meditation is recommended here not as a way to eradicate our rage but as a way to become fully present to its energies. When you become uncomfortable or frightened, remember that difficult emotions are your most profound teachers. The more we can witness our experiences without judgment, the less suffering we will experience in our lives. We eventually learn to rest in the ebb and flow of the present moment, experiencing it as pure, often pleasant, and ever-changing. We begin to trust in the knowledge that what feels frightening and intolerable does not last forever.
Through our meditations with rage, we embrace an inner peace affirming that change is simply our nature—neither good nor bad. We soften our hold on the faulty assumption that one experience, joy, is always better than another, rage. We discover how to rest in the seasons of rage. We accept gracefully that everything changes all the time within us, within others, and within the world.
Meditation is an essential way to direct the intelligence of the mind. We are more than intelligent minds; we are intelligent bodies as well. Because we often suffer from a split of body and mind, we are not aware of the subtle interactions of our intelligence. Thus we overidentify with body or mind in any given circumstance.
Often we feel with our mind and not our body. We have raging thoughts that we are not aware of experiencing in our body, or we have intense sensations that we can’t explain. While our rage disguises live mostly in our minds, the body is where our rage wisdom lives, and where the truth of the moment lives. To experience our thoughts and feelings, we need to become still, breathe, and allow the sensations to surface.
In body awareness meditation, we open to a reunion of body and mind by exploring the sensations of our thoughts and feelings. There is a difference between a feeling and a sensation. Feelings are shortcuts, often expressed in thoughts and words: sadness, joy, disappointment, happiness, rage, and so on. When we are enraged, our feelings become piercing, and generally there is an object—a person, place, or thing outside ourselves—that is the focus and cause of our suffering. Sensations are more direct experiences from the body: heavy chest, throbbing eyes, stiff lower back, tightness in the back of the head, clammy hands, tight skin, heat, cold, itchy leg, gurgling in the stomach, or a foot going to sleep. Sensations communicate the raw realness of the moment, and provide a more reliable truth than our thoughts and feelings.
In body awareness meditation, we practice shifting our attention from the object that is creating agitation—the other—to exploring how our feelings are being experienced in the body. This exercise is profoundly useful anytime you feel enraged. The beauty of the exercise is discovering that when we are paying kind attention to rage, it often ceases to become a problem.
Allow about 20 minutes for this practice. Begin with breath awareness, and acknowledge to yourself that you are safe. Keep in mind that throughout this exercise your breath is your anchor, and you can return to it anytime you need to calm yourself.
When you are ready, invite the object of your agitation to reveal itself in full bloom in your mind’s eye. See yourself in the righteousness of your frustration, and allow this upset to get as large and as intense as it needs to. Breathe to stay present, and take your time. Allow this experience to remain uninterrupted for a while. When you are ready, see yourself turning away from the object of frustration and focusing your attention on your sensations—the way your body is experiencing frustration.
Now softly begin to notice your experience in terms of sensations—what is occurring within your body in the absence of thoughts or feelings. For example, you may find yourself thinking I’m sad, I’m angry. If so, direct your attention to the sensations you are experiencing in your body that may be feeding this thinking: What sensations inform me that I am sad and angry? Continue this exploration—breathing and bearing kind witness as each sensation arises and passes away.
Take your time, and give your sensations your full attention. As you are allowing your sensations to be fully explored, consider sending compassion and kindness to yourself by repeating these phrases:
May I be free from suffering and the cause of suffering.
May I experience what life offers with kindness.
May I be free from harming myself and others.
May I be happy loving myself right here, right now.
Notice how these statements affect your experience—what sensations arise. Continue riding the winds of your breath, allowing your body to be present with you in its unique way. When you are done, gently end your meditation and take time to write down what you have experienced.
Body awareness meditation helps you discover how your body tells a deeper truth than the mind and its memories. With practice, we heal our mind-body split, gain more access to our rage wisdom, and reacquaint ourselves with resting in our bodies.
Adapted from Healing Rage: Women Making Inner Peace Possible, by Ruth King, MA. © 2007 by Ruth King. Published by arrangement with Gotham Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA), LLC.
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