Just this morning, I stumbled upon this YouTube clip of Eckhart Tolle answering a question about anger. Although it might seem random in a July 4th message, I thought blowing things up all over the country is a good enough metaphor to share it today. I highly recommend listening to the clip so you can hear the wisdom from the Meister himself, but for what it’s worth, here are my reflections.
Although unpleasant, anger and strong emotion can help us to grow, when we recognize that they are all just patterns of thought, or what Eckhart calls “thought forms”. When intense feelings come up, instead of identifying with them, fanning that fire, and succumbing to a knee jerk reaction, remember that you are not your thoughts and you don’t even have to believe all your thoughts. As Eckhart said – there’s enormous freedom in that.
Working with the negativity that arises within us, however it shows up, can be a really important spiritual practice in and of itself. When you recognize anger, see it as just a thought form that you simply absorbed somewhere along the way. It’s not actually you and you can decide to let it go if it’s not serving you. It will probably show up again in the future, but it doesn’t have to control you, or have the ability to ruin your or anyone else’s day. Further, when you can look at your own anger without judgement, you’re naturally more understanding when others get angry.
So we can even be grateful for anger and other strong emotions because they give us something to work with, a way to expand our understanding, and learn to become truly free.
The Ayurvedic Perspective
Also, we may be more prone to anger in the hot weather. Ayurveda, the world’s longest continuously practiced health care system, teaches that we are ruled by energies of fire (Pitta), air (Vata), and earth (Kapha), and that Like Increases Like. So if we’re outside in the hot air, working out hard, eating spicy food, etc, we may feel symptoms of too much fire energy, which includes anger, inflammation, stress, etc.
Certified Ayurvedic Consultant, Emmie Stamell recommends treating excess pitta with opposite qualities, “A cooling diet and lifestyle practices such as moon-bathing, avoiding the mid-day sun, wearing colors like white and blue, and enjoying a light diet full of locally grown veggies are ways to pacify the conditions associated with excess heat. Coconut, watermelon and salad are great summertime treats. Essential oils like sandalwood and rose cool the body-mind. Exercise is best done in the early morning or evening to avoid overheating the system, and as a general rule, back off to 75% of your typical effort. Yin yoga, or a calmly paced yoga flow that incorporates wide-legged forward folds and twists with elongated exhalations is ideal for a summer practice.”
Image credit: NASA