Anger During Meditation

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KAP Instructor Paul Densmore: A quick video describing why anger (that arises during KAP and/or zen meditation) isn’t a hindrance to “spiritual work”, what it most likely is, and how to properly use it.

Paul’s next online KAP classes: Level 1 | Level 2 | Creativity Enhancement (CE)

Video Transcription:

All right, so I’m going to try to do a series of these really short videos. A lot of them are going to be kind of health related things that I’m incorporating into my life. This one is an emotional thing, and this is sort of the number one concern that I get from my students and it has to do with negative stuff that comes up during the practice of KAP, or even Zen, Zazen, meditation.

Those two seem to be the two on-bringers of this storm, and it’s: anger. Now it goes a little bit beyond anger because it’s actually sort of repressed emotions.

Number one: I am not a psychologist, so anything that I say in this video should be taken with a grain of salt. But, it is based on empirical stuff. So, you know, give it a shot if you want to, but get yourself checked out first as well.

So anger, you know, people do KAP, or they do Zen meditation, or they do a combination of the two which I often recommend, and all of a sudden these repressed emotions come up and they’re like, “all of a sudden, I’m feeling pissed off, and I’ve got all this rage. What’s going on? How do I get rid of it? How do I get rid of it?” And I get that over and over again, in fact I’ll tell — you know, some students it’ll be like one month they’ll say, “Aw yeah, all of a sudden I got really pissed off.”

I’m like, “Okay well, good, that’s progress.”

And then, things will get better and then the next month, “I got really pissed off again.” Like, well, yeah, go back and listen to what I said before.

And the interesting thing is, it’s all these repressed emotions, and we don’t even think — especially people who are leading a so-called spiritual life “Oh you know, I have nothing to do, I have no anger.”

Bullshit. If somebody cuts you off in traffic, you’re gonna get ticked off but you’re gonna go, “Oh no, no, no, no, I’m too spiritual to…” And then you’re going to choke it down and it’s going to get — in time we don’t even realize it a lot of times.

And so it just sits there and festers, and then all of a sudden BOOM it gets brought up and it’s even stronger than the little annoyance that it was before because it’s become this big conglomerate of all the little times that you choked it down.

But the funny thing is, other stuff comes up too. It’s like lust: nobody gets pissed off when lust comes up because, especially if you’re in a relationship, because your relationship is going to get 10 times better. Or even, if you’re single, you’ll just be a really mellow person walking around if you kind of catch my drift. But that’s kind of the point.

Everybody can find a use for lust and other things that come up. Even fear can point us towards things we need to deal with, but everybody thinks that anger is something has no use and it’s absolute BS. To borrow my best Bruce Lee “It’s a finger pointing towards the moon. Don’t focus on the finger or you’ll miss all that heavenly glory.” That sort of thing.

But it points towards something. So if all of this anger and rage, and you just want to go out and you want to beat the shit out of somebody, it’s pointing towards something and just trying to get rid of the anger it’s not going to do anything. That’s why it’s going to keep coming back because you’re not paying attention to what it’s pointing towards.

So now, with that being said, two ways to deal with it. Number one: I call the F-bomb banishing. And this is to clear the space. Often, there is two ways to deal with: it’’s to get clear and see what’s pointing at it, or to sit in and be present to the anger and then see what it wants, basically.

So the F-bomb banishing: if you have access to a car, go drive out into the middle of the country, go walk out into the middle of the country where nobody’s going to hear for miles around and just at the top of your lungs “F#$@!%K!” scream it as hard and loud as you can and then as soon as it’s done, as soon as you get that last little ounce of breath out, just relax into the feeling and go “Okay.”

You’ll feel this clear awareness, and then go “Okay, now, what’s the real issue here now that I’ve got the anger out of the way.” And, nine times out of ten, you’ll be clued in, like oh hey it’s this over here. Maybe it’ll be some repressed memory, maybe it’ll be — it could be a hundred things. Something that you’re going through but you’re not really dealing with it, etc., etc., etc.

I can’t give you specifics because we’re all different and we’re all going through different things.

The next thing we’ll have two different approaches. That was clearing away, this is going to be actually sitting in it and being present with it. Now, that doesn’t mean — that doesn’t give you a license to do whatever you want. If I say, be present to your anger, that doesn’t mean go beat the shit out of somebody and be present while you’re beating the crap out of them.

A: that will probably land you in jail.

And B: it will make you feel terrible when it’s all done. And there are other reasons as well but those are the two ones that you’ll probably be more apt to experience. So, sit with your anger. And I mean sit. Again if you have to, drive out to the country, but by the time you drive out to the country, it will probably be gone.

You’ll have this nice scenery…and you don’t wanna do that because that’s just letting you off the hook. And it’s not doing you any good, really. Sit with your anger. Go into the bathroom. Go into a closet if you have to, and sit there and be present to the anger and start — so become the anger. Let it envelop you. Realize: “I, right now, I am experiencing this”. And then start asking it questions.

What are you pointing at?

What am I not dealing with?

What have I repressed?

Etc., etc., etc.

And a lot of times, that will get you: all of a sudden you’ll have this BING, this moment of clarity, this insight and you’ll figure out what it is that you really need to deal with. Not just get rid of the anger, the anger is there pointing at something. What is it pointing at?

The next one is if that sort of digital, auditory thing doesn’t work, getting kinesthetic works a lot of times so get out a pen and a piece of paper and start writing down as your anger, you can ask it a question:

Again, what are you pointing at?

What are you trying to tell me here?

And then start writing down whatever just, free association, whatever pops into your mind. It doesn’t matter what it is just write it down and get it out, get it out, get it out.

Or write as your anger, as if you’re playing a character. If you do a lot of fiction writing or whatever this should be easy for you and will actually help you in your other stuff and, a lot of times it’s something that you’re not dealing with or something that you’re not doing, your not living up to your potential or something etc.

So many people, they don’t live up to their potential, they’re not doing the thing that they feel that they really need to do for whatever reason and it ticks them off.

It’s the classic sort of drunken father who works the crappy job. You know, the sitcom father, basically, the archetype and that’s a very real thing. If you’re not doing what you’re supposed to be doing of course you’re going to get ticked off. All right.

All right and then the other approach is a morning page. So you’ve probably heard of morning pages especially if you’re in the creative work. Morning pages are great, I recommend them for pretty much anything because — I use them on the weekend basically, or on the holidays because I use five-minute journal every morning and every night, but I don’t have a whole lot of time in the morning because I get up, I take my daughter to school, and I like my sleep as well.

I have a whole lot of stuff to get done, and then I sleep, and then I get up and start doing stuff again. So I usually use it on the weekend, but I still use it. And so it’s just where you take a sheet of paper, you can get the morning page journal if you want to and I only use one page even though she recommends using five because I don’t have that much time usually, and you just start writing whatever.

You just clear out the monkey mind. And you can even ask yourself questions, like if you’re blocked creatively you can ask “Well what am I supposed to — what idea am I supposed to be approaching,” or whatever or try to get in then you basically ask the question, or you can actually write out the question and then you just start free associating and writing and just free-writing basically.

And that’s it. Those three things will usually have you done. Talking. Writing. Doing the F-bomb banishing. Those are the three best pieces of advice that I can give you because, again, the anger is pointing at something. It’s the pain that — the pain is not the issue. The issue is whatever is causing the pain. So deal with the issue. All right? And that’s my quick little spiel for today. Thank you very much.

Transcription by Spencer Stevens

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