Just For Today, Do Not Anger. Really? Is it that easy?
This second of five principles is found in the Usui system of Reiki and it does appear to be that easy. Here’s what I mean.
Read it again. It has two distinct parts:
1. Just for today
2. Do not anger
I want to look at each part separately.
Just For Today
Be here now. Be present. It reminds me of “The Power of Now” by Eckhart Tolle. There IS power in the current moment.
“Current.” That’s interesting. I just realized that this current is what sweeps me away in my anger. My focus is a laser aimed at the injustice, the disappointment, or the loss. Like a river gushing furiously over huge boulders.
BUT……the reality is that I have a choice.
Quantum physics tells us that time is not linear. All that is, all that was, and all that ever will be is contained right here and now. I can choose to place all of my attention – my thoughts, sensations, and feelings – onto this moment.
What does that give me? Want to find out together? Give it a try. Right now. Take a deep breath and place your attention on what you see, hear, feel (skin sensations), smell, and taste. Notice what emotions surface and what your thoughts look like.
Yep. Suddenly, my raft is gently, quietly floating on calm waters as I look at the cliffs, sandy beaches, and green trees. I can smell the fresh, wild air in this river carved canyon. My body relaxes and takes a deep breath. How about yours?
The body is in the present moment 100% of the time. The mind is elsewhere; another location, the past, or the future.
What else happens as I place my attention what is happening right now, in this moment? The resistance that I felt to a painful thought or sensation actually eases and the pain lightens. Wow! Being present with pain, instead of resisting it, lightens the load. The pain decreases!
Ok. So, becoming present reduces suffering. The masters have been teaching this for thousands of years. I believe that this is something Mikao Usui, the founder of Reiki, wanted to promote too. After all, a Reiki treatment itself reduces suffering and brings us into the present moment. This is how healing begins.
Do Not Anger
First and foremost, I really want to be clear here. “Do not” is NOT a command to suppress, ignore, bottle up, push away, or otherwise reject your feelings.
It is simply one person’s translation of the poem written by the Meiji emperor. The point here is to be conscious of the anger, its effects, its origins, and then to make a choice.
Anger usually comes up in a flash. But anger’s cousins, frustration and irritation, begin as a seed and grow into anger or even rage. Do you find this to be true for you?
We have a choice. We don’t have to fall victim to the raging waters of our anger. Anger, in all of its forms, does not have to overwhelm (nor overcome) us. We can take a step back and look at it with curiosity (even while the feeling is still present in our bodies).
Where is this anger coming from?
What does it want to teach me in this moment?
What can I learn about it?
The “fight or flight” response of fear and anger get triggered by all kinds of experiences. All it means is that the brain perceived a threat. The emotion follows.
Take a look at it. Step aside to observe yourself. Notice that you can choose to respond rather than react…..With practice. Don’t beat yourself up when you discover that you can’t control your unconscious process. By definition, you can’t. You can only do your best to hold onto yourself (your life jacket?) as the water rushes through.
The motorcyclist who flashes in anger after a car nearly side swipes him, is in survival mode. This is an unconscious process. We see the motorcyclist become angry.
The parent who shouts at the child after irritation built to the boiling point, is simply low on reserves to cope with the bundle of stress.
In each of these situations, the brain is at capacity and the body shifts into survival mode.
What’s the quickest way to reach a place of safety and calm again?
- Notice what’s happening. You’re angry.
- Take a deep breath.
- Ask where the anger came from.
- Respond from a place of awareness. Or wait until you can.
- Ask how the body wants to discharge the energy that anger creates.
Like any spiritual practice, becoming present and inquiring about anger is an on-going practice. Responding instead of reacting happens more often over time. Let yourself off the hook.
You may not become aware of what’s happening until after the angry words slip out. That’s ok. Just take a deep breath the instant you notice. In a split second, you can stop and assess, and then make a choice. This creates a sense of confidence and trust in yourself as you make decisions for yourself instead of feeling like a victim to your own anger.
Just for Today, Do Not Anger.