Being open when challenged with anger


In the past two days we’ve discussed the practice of being open. Today I want to consider how to engage in this practice when  challenged. You see in the heat of the moment I believe and my experience bears it out, that if we have a plan then we’re more able to recall some  aspect of that plan and we are better able to deal with the situation.

Last week I was with someone who came to me with the powerful energy of anger. I observed different options rising up in my consciousness. The one that is most ingrained is the defensive response. If I follow that option then I begin to feel attacked and overwhelmed. How does it play out? Well I start to give all kinds of reasons to the person about why I am not responsible or about why they shouldn’t be angry with me. I find this way of dealing with the situation hardly ever works, yet I act in this illogical way over and over again. The anger sweeps logic away in that person. In the past after such an experience I feel a flood of emotions first great anger which degenerates to depression.

But last week was different. I’ve been very much taken with the practice of observing so it’s no surprise that I could see more in the situation. As I listened to this very angry person I could see the effect of the emotion on her body. I could see the tension in the face and in the way whole body was held. I could see the contracted pattern of thinking, little openness, holding on to fixed ideas. I could see the power of the emotion, the driving force of it.

In the moment I thought I am just like this person. If I allow anger to rise up in me I will be in the same place as this person. As I looked at her I thought, “do I want to subject my body and mind to this condition? Do I want to catch this emotion of anger?” In the same way that I can catch emotion from her, she can catch emotion from me. I thought to myself, if I was in her shoes, and I have experienced such anger so I know from personal experience that she is not enjoying her space and she wants to come out of it but she is caught up in it. I know how awful it is to be caught up. We are sisters in spirit, with so much shared experiences. This train of thinking brought me into such a wonderful space of love and compassion for the other. Mean while her anger was spent. We began to dialogue and to explore solutions.

What I will take away from the situation was that observing myself puts the power of response in my hands. I also want to remember the wonderful feeling in moving from individual defensive thinking to a more expansive, embracing mode where I related to the other person as myself.

Please share your victory stories in dealing with anger or any other strong emotion.

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6 Responses to Being open when challenged with anger

  1. Henk says:

    Namaskar all, Parts that struck me where: “In the same way that I can catch emotion from her, she can catch emotion from me.”, “We are sisters in spirit,..” and “…that observing myself puts the power of response in my hands.” The process as a whole is one to remember. I have experienced both scenarios and what a great differences both can have. How peaceful the expansive can feel, how contracted going along with anger can be.

    The breathing, yes, what a tool I find this to be. Always (he is always there) a true friend to me.
    Your third paragrafh is very recognisable to me, Marlene. What touched me particilarly is “I didn’t care who was right or wrong, who was at fault and who wasn’t. I just wanted both of us to be in a good space again and I was then willing to make the first move to make that happen.” I like the part of taking a moment of silence and training too.

    What came up in me, what I applied a few times is, asking for help within. Like taking a penalty with football/soccer it is helpful for a player to practice a lot, to keep calm and very focused, but he can also ask for help from the supporters in the stadium. Well, come to think of it, he doesn’t have to ask, as the supporters of his/her team will be supporting anyway. (Would this be the case with us aswell? That being around us are supporting us anyway, although we are not asking for it? Is it more a matter of becoming aware that the supporters/beings are there?).

    A post to remember/keep.

    All my love, Henk

    • Chan Madhavi says:

      A beautiful integration of the ideas. Thanks Henk!

  2. Marlene says:

    I like your idea of sending peace to the situation and focusing on breathing to bring calm more calm, Nathalie.

    Sometimes in a situation where I am confronted with anger, I just need to be silent for a while rather than react immediately. Not only does it give the other person time to calm down, to move away, perhaps to think or reflect and time to come back to centre, but it allows me to do the same. I feel that by being silent at least I don’t continue to escalate the negative emotions even further. I don’t mean silence in the way of contraction, sulking, retaliation, or rejection, but a silence in which I can try to observe myself, move away from negative emotions, to reflect on whether I acted appropriately or inappropriately (could I have handled it differently?), and to consider my options moving forward. I agree with you, Madhavi, that observing myself puts the power of response in my hands. I also agree that it is best to have a ready plan in place to deal with these types of situations. Guru has advised us to prepare for and rehearse in advance for challenging situations, not to wait until we are in the heat of the moment.

    Yesterday I experienced an incident where anger was directed at me and even though it was only for a few seconds, I was not prepared for it and I somehow absorbed that strong emotion into my being and it unsettled me. I was not successful in shedding it quickly or easily even though that is what I desired to do. I recognized that I was not open in that moment but that I had the desire to protect myself from any further negative impacts. Having fallen into that trap, it took me a little while before I was able to come to the space where I could send love and compassion to this person because first I needed to take some time to have a little love and compassion for myself based on how my body was feeling so that I could come back to a good space. Then afterwards I was able to send the person love and compassion because I was able to put myself in the other person’s shoes and consider how they must be feeling and what they might need as a result. I didn’t care who was right or wrong, who was at fault and who wasn’t. I just wanted both of us to be in a good space again and I was then willing to make the first move to make that happen.

    During this challenge I forgot to try out a technique that another friend shared last week. She explained that when she feels negative energy coming at her, as a protection she visualizes mirrors all around her so that the negative energy coming her way reflects back off the mirrors and away from her. She feels that by doing this she can avoid absorbing the negative energy into her being. Something else for me to experiment with!

    • Chan Madhavi says:

      Thanks for enriching the conversation Marlene, you’ve made some very practical suggestions!

  3. Nathalie says:

    When I encounter and/or anticipate a situation of tension , anger, great negative emotions , I send peace to the situation. Doing so, I trust that the universe will bring peace where need be, in the other person and/or myself. I observe that when I do so, communication is easier, I pay attention to what the person is expressing, always sending peace and thru compasion, I am able to “disarmed” the anger and let the real conversion happen. We all need to feel our emotions recognized , to feel understood in those situation. And last but not least “breathing” ! That help me to stay more in a observer space and also I feel it calms the person in front of me.

    • Chan Madhavi says:

      Very constructive approach Nathalie. Thank you!

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