Dealing with Anger

Buddhist ethical conduct including the Five Precepts (Pañcasikkhāpada), and Eightfold Ethical Conduct (Aṭṭhasīla).
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Dealing with Anger

Post by jnak » Sat Feb 07, 2015 10:34 pm

We all cope with anger to some of extent, some of us more than others. Discomfort with my own feelings of anger was one of the motivating factors that drove me to meditation and Buddhist practice.

Neuroanatomist, Jill Bolte Taylor, has what she calls the "90 Second Rule" She refers to it about 00:02:00 into this TedX Youth Talk. The idea is that when we have a thought that results in anger, the biochemistry that floods through our bodies that results in the physical response that we experience as anger washes out in ninety seconds or less. The reason we can feel angry for much longer than ninety seconds is that we keep thinking the same thought over and over.

I recently had the opportunity to watch this in action in my own life. An utterly banal household accident resulted in a broken bottle of hot sauce on the kitchen floor during a busy morning while my family was getting ready for work and school. I felt anger, frustration, and the desire to blame someone. I watched it arise and kept my mouth shut. I cleaned up the mess, recognizing that it was my own inattention and haste that resulted in the accident and I let it go. With in a couple of minutes, I noticed that I was not only calm, but happy. The 90 Second Rule!

The take away for me is wait, don't react, break the thought chain, and in a couple of minutes things will be better. Feelings come and feelings go. They're just feelings.

So much wrong speech and wrong action in the world is the result of anger. I know that the meditation practice gives me more resilience for coping with life's inevitable stress, which makes it easier to meditate. It's a virtuous cycle and I think that even little events like a kitchen mishap can help us build the path.
"...I'm not much of an expert when it comes to the texts. I've simply learned a few parts, and put them into practice." Ajaan Lee Dhammadharo

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Re: Dealing with Anger

Post by paul » Sat Feb 07, 2015 11:39 pm

"If there is a pot of water heated on the fire, the water seething and boiling, a man with a normal faculty of sight, looking into it, could not properly recognize and see the image of his own face. In the same way, when one's mind is possessed by ill-will, overpowered by ill-will, one cannot properly see the escape from the ill-will which has arisen; then one does not properly understand and see one's own welfare, nor that of another, nor that of both; and also texts memorized a long time ago do not come into one's mind, not to speak of those not memorized."

— SN 46:55

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