A yoga teacher wrote to me - “I am a yoga teacher. I do my sadhana regularly. I read knowledge and also do seva. I keep myself very busy. But still I have anger within me, and often end up in arguments. It is frustrating. I really can’t understand how much more I should do to be silent within. Please guide me how can I not get carried away by anger.”
Many holy books of yoga mention six passions or enemies of mind:
Kama – Desires
Krodha – Anger
Mada – Ego
Together they are called Arishadvarga.
All six passions are very strong individually, and extremely powerful collectively. They are interconnected and interrelated. One leads to another. They are strong because over a period of many life times they have deep-rooted themselves into your inner-being. In each life you accumulate more, and make them even stronger.
They are born out of avidya (ignorance), and are the root cause of unhappiness. Though in may books they are referred to as ‘enemies’, but I see them as challenges, not enemies.
Just as, the only way to remove darkness is to shine some light there, the only way to overcome Arishadvarga, which arise out of ignorance, is through the proper understanding and practice of jnana yoga, the path of knowledge.
Krodha (anger), like fire, can be both dangerous, and useful if used skillfully. In most instances, because people lack skills, anger is dangerous. In anger you hurt yourself first, and then the others. In anger you lose your centeredness and clarity of mind. Anger destroys relationships. Excessive anger can damage your nadis, the energy channels, and severely affect your physical and mental well-being. According to Bhagvad Gita (2-63), anger eventually leads to your spiritual destruction.
Tips to get freedom from anger
Anger can be a useful tool when used with awareness and a purpose. However, most of the anger is useless and harmful. Remembering and practicing the following may be helpful.
Others are not responsible for your anger
When you are angry, mostly it is because of the accumulated anger that is already present in you. The external factors are just being a catalyst for stirring that pre-existing anger in you. By blaming situations and others, you only solidify the anger in you.
Your own desires, ego, greed, attachments, and jealousy are the root-causes of your anger.
Accept the realities of life
Some of which are:
Situations will continue to come in life which you don’t want or don’t like. You have no control over them.
Certain people will behave in a manner or do things which you may not like or agree with, or which may even cause pain to you. This is inevitable.
You want only to gain and succeed in life, but the reality is that you will experience loss and failure also.
Everything in life changes. When the change is inevitable, then why should you get angry and upset when it happens?
Similarly, there are many other realities of life which you must realize and accept.
Do whatever you can do to make things better but, in most situations, being angry is not the way.
Be with the anger
When angry, or faced with anger from others, remember that the situation is only a trigger, and take your attention away from the situation to your inner-being.
Observe the feeling and emotions arising within you without any judgements, questions, and blame.
Emotions that arise from anger are like the smoke that arises from the fire. Observing is like opening the windows to let the smoke out. Questioning and blaming is like inhaling the harmful smoke with the windows closed.
Take any needed action only when your inside has cooled down. Your action then will be much more meaningful and productive.
This way, instead of accumulating more, you will be able to erase some of the pre-existing anger.
Transform your anger into compassion
When you are feeling hurt and angry, at that time it can be helpful to remember that at times you also sometimes hurt others by your behavior and actions.
When someone is angry at you, especially if it is someone who loves you, or someone who has done good things for you in the past, accept their anger by remembering the good things, and your love for each other.
This practice of remembering at the right time will help you in transforming your anger into acceptance and compassion, which is soothing to the inner-being. With time and practice you will become better at it.
Just as, adding some yogurt to the milk turns all of that milk into yogurt, same way, adding some compassion to the anger turns all anger into compassion.
The saying ‘laughter is the best medicine’ is very true. But there is a proper way in which it should be done.
With a willingness to let go of the daily events, which irritate you and make you angry, fill your heart with compassion and love for yourself and others, especially those who may have hurt you, then laugh, and laugh more. Let your laughter carry compassion toward all. Let the laughter come from your heart and allow your whole body to shake. Do this twice daily regularly, and in addition, laugh as soon as you can after an incident of anger. It is hard to laugh when your heart is heavy, but this is the best way to come out of heaviness. When things don’t seem right, it is difficult to laugh, but still laugh. It may give you the needed strength to deal with difficult situations.
Make laughing a part of your sadhana (daily practice). It will bring comfort to your inner-being, and also improve your physical health.
Do the above for six months, you will notice a big reduction in the intensity and duration of your anger.
Do it for six years, your anger will be transformed into compassion, like the compassion of a yogi.