Saturday, November 19, 2011

Facing Anger

My daughter, Amanda

Amid the loving expressions of peace, brotherhood, and good will during the holidays, we often are jarred with expressions of anger and violence seemingly all around us.  Indeed, one of the predominant human feelings of the season is often anger that may arise from minor episodes of impatience and irritation  to major events involving grief, jealousy, moral outrage and the like. 

Anger can be a nuisance in our lives or a major impediment in our successful interaction with others.  It can lead to violence, bodily harm, or permanent loss of love and affection. 

For myself, I have found the teaching of mindfulness habits offered within the Buddhist tradition helps me to face anger. From an April 10, 2008 episode of Being by Krista Tippett on American Public Media, Zen Master and poet Thich Nhat Hanh and others, including a policewoman and a Baptist Minister, talk about how they respond to "living in a world of anger and violence" using mindfulness. Listen to a podcast of this program.

For Warmth
by Thich Nhat Hanh

I hold my face between my hands
no I am not crying
I hold my face between my hands
to keep my loneliness warm
two hands protecting
two hands nourishing
two hands to prevent
my soul from leaving me
in anger

Pema Chodron is one of my favorite Buddhist teachers.  An American woman, raised as a Catholic and whose marriage fell apart from infidelity by her husband, Pema Chodron turned to "the Middle Way" of Buddhist teachings in the 1970's and has become one of the West's most beloved teachers of Buddhism.  Here she talks about how the "hate" she was feeling for her husband led her to Buddhism.

She has written many wonderful books  and also has many oral talks on CD's.  I'm going to buy Don't Bite the Hook: Finding Freedom from Anger, Resentment, and Other Destructive Emotions [Audiobook] [Audio CD]  by Pema Chodrin and listen to it during the holidays.  Here is a description from Amazon books:
"Life has a way of provoking us with traffic jams and computer malfunctions, with emotionally distant partners and crying children—and before we know it, we're upset. We feel terrible, and then we end up saying and doing things that only make matters worse. But it doesn't have to be that way, says Pema Chödrön. It is possible to relate constructively to the inevitable shocks, losses, and frustrations of life so that we can find true happiness. The key, Pema explains, is not biting the "hook" of our habitual responses. In this recorded weekend retreat, Pema draws on Buddhist teachings from The Way of the Bodhisattva to reveal how we can:

• stay centered in the midst of difficulty
• improve stressful relationships
• step out of the downward spiral of self-hatred
• awaken compassion for ourselves and others"

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