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Lions Roar : March 2010
SHAMBHALA SUN MArcH 2010 24 In order to do this, we need a little wisdom and a few mindful- ness skills. To begin, we must remember the first noble truth: life is filled with stress and unsatisfactoriness that are not the fault of anyone in particular. Misunderstandings and oversights are sim- ply part of the muddle of human affairs, especially when we live together on a daily basis and have lots of different needs and per- spectives. So when faced with anger—our own or another’s—it’s a good idea to start with a bit of modesty. We can then make a commitment to watch our own feelings. We will notice how they arise and pass away, no matter how painful or contractive they are, and that we experience them as body sensations, internal images, and internal talk. Over time, we will become familiar with the emotional landscape of anger. My own anger arises with my chest tightening and my throat constricting, and it tends to shape into the inner words: “I can’t stand this,” or something similar. I label it “anger” fairly quickly. Then, I am interested in discovering just what it is that seems unfair to me at that moment. The sense of being treated unfairly should not be overlooked or brushed aside. We will learn from answering the questions: “Why am I feeling this?” “What needs to change here?” and “What do I need to do about it?” Once we see how our feelings arise and pass away on their own, without our doing anything in particular, then we have true free- dom to decide when and if we want to express our feelings in words to another. Of course, even if we don’t express ourselves in words directly, the other person may read our emotion accurately and may choose to question us about it. Knowing how and when it is useful to express our feelings, especially anger, means paying close atten- tion to the consequences of our speech. Often anger is an important motivator to talk about what is bothering us, but we first have to reflect. What happens when we speak anger? What happens when we don’t? Is it possible to speak anger honestly and kindly at the same time? (yes, it is, but you have to find your own way each time.) Equanimity, or gentle, matter-of-fact attention to all of our ex- periences, helps us work with our own and another’s anger. Equa- nimity means to have an open and relaxed view of what’s happen- ing while getting our “sea legs,” our balance in the midst of being tumbled around. If you can maintain equanimity in the face of your own and your beloved’s anger, then you’ll be able to feel your own feelings and listen to your beloved at the same time. By slow- ing down your reactivity, you’ll be able to think about the potential consequences of speaking or not speaking in any given moment. But beware of trying to do all this in a “perfect” way! you can- not get good at delving into the treasure of anger without making mistakes. If you speak out in an aggressive, blaming manner, you can apologize! you can hear yourself speak and say, “I’m sorry. I don’t like what I said there. Let me try again because I love you and I want to understand what is going on.” Similarly, if you de- fend yourself in a preemptive way and walk away from an angry partner, you can turn around and go back. Apologize. Remember: There is no perfect way to do this. There is only the intention to do it and the attempt to follow that intention. What is the most skillful intention in relation to anger? In my Earth-friendly/body-friendly furniture for meditation and daily life, including sitting, sleeping, lounging, and yoga. www.zafu.net Free brochure 1-888-267-5366 Knock down design travels in a suitcase. Multiple positions--feet can be in front, beneath or ankles resting on cross-bar.) Great for people with limited exibility. www zafuffufufuf net Fre The Tilt SeatTM A kneeling chair and floor desk in one. Balances, strengthens and tones the body.