"Mindfulness and Meditation allow us to open our hearts, relax our bodies, and clear our minds enough to experience the vast, mysterious, sacred reality of life directly. With Practice we come to know for ourselves that eternity is available in each moment.

Your MMM Courtesy Wake Up Call:
Musings on Life and Practice
by a Longtime Student of Meditation

Friday, July 26, 2013


We can suppress anger and aggression or act it out,
either way making things worse for ourselves and others.
Or we can practice patience: wait,
experience the anger and investigate its nature.
---Pema Chodron

“Just because anger or hate is present does not
mean that the capacity to love and accept
is not there; love is always with you.”
---Thich Nhat Hanh

The Universe is exquisite.  Once you hitch your wagon to Practice and roll out, you are going to get the lessons you need to take you deeper--whether you like it or not!  (That might be especially true if you have the chuzpah to sit down each week and try to say something about how Life really IS and suggest ideas about what we can do about that.  LOL)

Last week, I spent time here presenting the notion that simply "cutting loose of the storyline", the process of refocusing our awareness on other aspects of our experience (preferably what we are feeling in our heart), can sometimes take us from hell to heaven in the blink of an eye.  Although I certainly have experienced something approximating that more than once, Life has interjected a pretty dramatic bout of upset apple carts and broohaha over the course of 24 hours or so to remind me that it certainly can take a bit longer to regain that sense of wonder about it all.  It may seem like a hell of a long time, even.

As a child and a young man I had what folks call an extremely bad temper.  Having grown up in the midst of a lot of anger, I would react to things in my world with bursts of violent emotions and even physical violence.  I could yell and smash things and strike out with the worst of them.  Perhaps, one of the deepest gratitudes that I have to the Practice is that I no longer am likely to inflict harm on others due to "loosing it".  

Yesterday, I hit a deep pool of anger for the first time in quite awhile.  Mixed with fear and pain, no amount of cutting loose of the storylines was about to dispel it rapidly.  Although it certainly helped,
what was called for was the willingness and ability to make some time and space to allow the anger to run its course within as much mindfulness and heart as I could manage.  Ultimately it took me a couple of  hours in the evening, then a couple more in the early morning to bring it to the point where I felt safe to re-engage with Betsy and the rest of my life in a clear and kind way. 

During that time, both Shamatha/Vipashyana and Tonglen practice seems to have afforded me the opportunity to feel and examine the nature of the patterns involved in that anger, to stay with it rather than withdraw.  First in little bursts, then with a slow and gentle expansion I felt that gracious spaciousness return.  Slowly I felt my heart open again.  Whew!

Shambala Sun, a magazine which offers a "Buddhist view for people of all spiritual traditions who are open, inquisitive, passionate and committed" has two articles that may be helpful to you if you are interested in ways to look at and work with anger (and the whole continuum of aversion). "The Answer to Anger and Aggression is Patience" by Pema Chodron and "Loosening the Knots of Anger" by Thich Nhat Hanh are both available on-line and can be quite useful.

I'm certainly grateful that Life embraces the possibility of Love, Forgiveness, and Good Will.  I'm grateful that we have the means to bring that into our world individually and collectively.  I'm grateful to the Practice and all it provides.

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