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Anger Management

How Sahaja Meditation Helps Resolve Anger

The very human emotion of anger is a response to pain — whether physical or emotional. It is sometimes characterized as a “secondary” emotion because it doesn’t occur in isolation; rather, it is typically provoked by feelings of pain and anger-triggering thoughts. This transmutation of pain into anger involves an attention shift — from self-focus to other-focus. We usually direct our anger at someone or something else, even if, in reality, we’re secretly angry at ourselves.

Thus, we may sometimes hide behind anger — use it to distract and deflect. We may focus our anger on someone else, rather than looking inward to try to understand the root cause(s) of our anger. Anger can act as a smokescreen for feelings of vulnerability; it may temporarily make us feel in control, protect us from having to deal with our painful feelings. Allowing ourselves to become angry might help us hide the reality that we feel vulnerable or frightened. Getting angry may even create feelings of righteousness, power and moral superiority, allowing us to “justify” our anger.

There are many deep causes of anger, but there are some common causes that Sahaja meditation can help resolve; for example, the ego can lead us to react in anger. Anger becomes a defense mechanism when the ego is under siege (e.g., due to fragile self-image and self-esteem).

Through the practice of Sahaja meditation, we can work on our egoistic nature both through introspection and other subtle techniques. Once we become highly self-aware and can manage the impact of any external situation that would normally engage the ego and trip an angry reaction, we can live an anger-free life.

When we’re confronted with physical or psychological pain (or even the threat of pain), the internal activation of the anger response triggers the release of the neurochemical norepinephrine (noradrenaline), which we experience as an analgesic (Stosny, 1995). Norepinephrine numbs the pain. In other words, anger is actually a neurochemical form of self-soothing. It may make us feel better… temporarily.

But the anger response also provokes release of the neurohormone epinephrine (adrenaline), which manifests as an amphetamine-like surge of energy throughout the body that we feel during a sudden attack of anger (Stosny, 1995). For someone who feels defeated or powerless, this adrenaline surge can provide a heightened sense of control and power.

The surges of these two neurochemicals — both analgesic and empowering — can be very seductive, not unlike the effects of addictive substances such as alcohol or cocaine. It’s no wonder that anger can end up controlling us.

Anger can also result from unreasonable attachments or clinging to people or things that we assign a disproportionate amount of importance to. When we’re challenged concerning these unhealthy attachments, we may respond in anger. Through the introspective skills that are enhanced by the practice of Sahaja meditation, as well as specific techniques designed to balance relevant energy centers, it becomes easier to prioritize our lives and hang onto what matters and let go of what doesn’t. Not only do we develop the self-control necessary to manage anger, we develop tremendous psychological resilience within that prevents us from being negatively affected by stressful or adverse events in life. Our social interactions improve. Our cognitive, emotional and physical health improves.

Another subtler root cause of anger is related to excessive ambitions or “wants” in our lives. When these wants do not materialize to the extent we’d like, we may become angry, which tends to ripple down to our daily interactions with others. Through meditation, introspection and subtler techniques, we’re able to work on balancing our ambitions and moderating our desires to a reasonable, sustainable level that prevents us from feeling the sort of constant dissatisfaction that can result in anger and frustration.

Anger, especially when chronic, can become a self-destructive emotion that keeps us stuck, unable to enjoy life, or fulfill our potential. Chronic anger wreaks havoc on mind, body and soul and can ultimately lead to mental health problems (e.g., substance abuse, anxiety, depression), as well as physical health problems that result from an overworked heart and neuroendocrine system (e.g., cardiovascular problems, hormonal and neurotransmitter imbalances, compromised immunity).

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Scientific Evidence of Sahaja’s Influence on Anger

Recent research highlights Sahaja meditation’s ability to help us control anger by regulating key underlying mechanisms that provoke the anger response…

Meditation helps us let go of pain.

Sahaja meditation increases positive feelings and enhances our overall sense of well-being. In meditation, we are able to maintain a calm, balanced, non-judgmental state of mind. By focusing inward, we become more introspective and can improve from the inside out. We can let go of painful thoughts and feelings that may be triggering anger. The reduced emotional reactivity we experience during meditation infuses us with greater emotional stability, which better equips us to manage future challenging life events without overreacting, resorting to anger.

Sahaja decreases anger and other negative emotions.

Sahaja meditation functions as a regulatory mechanism for thoughts and emotions, which allows us to effectively, skillfully respond to challenges. A couple of EEG studies found that Sahaja meditation reduced negative emotional reactivity and increased psychoemotional stability and resilience. The Sahaja meditators also were found to be better at identifying their emotions, experiencing a wider spectrum of positive emotions, detaching from negative emotions, and bouncing back quicker after stressful events (Aftanas & Golosheykin, 2005; 2002). The greater the degree to which we are able to shift our thoughts and emotions from negative to positive, the greater our emotional health and well-being. Instead of filtering out the positive or magnifying only the negative details of a situation, we begin to filter out the negative.

Long-term meditation has been found to be especially effective for anger management. Researchers have found that long-term meditators (3-7 years of meditation), compared to novices (6 months or less), have greater electrical activity in a left-hemisphere area of the brain associated with emotionally positive experiences and the ability to cope with and respond adaptively to negative events. In fact, long-term Sahaja meditators, who had greater left-side activity, were found to have a much more positive outlook on life than novice meditators, who showed more right-sided activity (Aftanas & Golocheikine, 2001).

One large 3-year corporate research project compared Sahaja meditation’s unique state of thoughtless awareness to traditional executive classroom training and Hatha Yoga on managers’ personal values systems, emotional balance and decision-making patterns. The 6-week project involved 21 European and North American multinational companies in 8 industries (e.g., pharmaceuticals, high-tech IT and natural resources).

Researchers found that Sahaja’s state of thoughtless awareness decreased anger as well as other negative traits, such as self-dissatisfaction, nervousness and sadness.

Meditation influences neurochemicals.

Meditation increases neurotransmitters and neurohormones associated with positive mood, positive emotions and an optimistic outlook on life, such as serotonin, dopamine, melatonin and GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) (Newberg, A., Iverson, J., 2003). GABA has a calming, anti-anxiety effect on the brain by modulating or regulating the activity of other neurotransmitters, such as serotonin, norepinephrine, epinephrine and dopamine (Elias, A.N., Wilson, A.F., 2000).

Meditation improves self-esteem, reduces egoism.

Meditation makes us more self-reliant, self-sufficient and inner-directed. We don’t need to depend on others to feed our self-respect or reassure us of our worth. Meditation allows us to process how we feel about ourselves objectively, rather than through preconditioned biases or beliefs. Our thoughts are not filtered through negative, immature, or egoistic filters. Sahaja’s state of thoughtless awareness may allow implicit, subconscious self-appraisals to become incorporated into our conscious experience of ourselves (i.e., our explicit self-esteem) without judgment, which ultimately promotes secure, high self-esteem.

The regular practice of Sahaja meditation can improve character and personality traits over time, ultimately improving self-respect. Higher levels of self-respect fill a deeper reservoir of secure self-esteem, which, in turn, inhibits the tendency to resort to anger when the ego is challenged.

Meditation breaks down defenses

Sahaja meditation helps mediate our internal emotional conflicts, some of which may trigger the anger response. Meditation helps heighten your awareness of your own defenses, break down those defenses, and help you work through the unpleasant thoughts and feelings you may have been defending against.

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Anger and the Subtle Energy System

In the practice of Sahaja meditation, anger is viewed as being related to heat generated inside the body, beginning with the liver. The liver is involved in hundreds of functions, but its primary roles are to help digest stuff, make proteins, and get rid of bad stuff (e.g., eliminating toxic substances from the bloodstream). One of the liver’s jobs, from the Sahaja meditation perspective, is to remove excess heat from the body.

Where does that heat come from? When the mind-body is taxed beyond its coping abilities, the liver struggles to do its part in creating thermal and metabolic homeostasis. Heat begins to rise, first in the liver, then gradually moving all the way up to the Agnya (6th) chakra located in the brain (center forehead area), giving a whole new meaning to “hot under the collar.” This is when we react (or overreact), and this reaction often manifests outwardly as anger, irritation or frustration. Left unchecked over time, this energy imbalance can result in chronic anger.

Sahaja meditation improves self-esteem by awakening the inner energy and nourishing the 4th or Heart chakra (Anahat), which increases self-esteem by strengthening our sense of security about ourselves. And the 6th chakra (Agnya) plays a big role in monitoring and regulating the ego.

The excessive mental and physical activity wrought by anger also drains energy from the right side energy channel, exceeding its ability to replenish itself quickly. When this happens, our behavior becomes more aggressive, often manifesting in outward displays of anger.

Over the longer term, the practice of Sahaja meditation establishes a sort of permanent energy balance within us that helps us resolve the root causes of our anger and either eliminate them or learn to accept them without reacting in anger. Once we no longer feel the internal emotion of anger, we no longer react in anger, and there is nothing to control.

Through the regular practice of meditation, we achieve a state of acceptance and peace, so we feel no need to react emotionally to, for example, the actions of others except when absolutely necessary.

Sahaja meditation helps us control anger on several different levels, both through direct techniques, as well as through improvements in overall mind-body health, including enhancement of self-awareness and introspective skills that help you identify the root causes; coping skills that help you manage stressors and deal with unresolved issues. When these techniques are effectively used, most Sahaja practitioners find that they rarely, almost never experience anger.

If you’ve had a past tendency toward anger, you may find that meditation changes the entire tone of your daily existence. It becomes easier to challenge your own faulty thinking and focus on pinpointing the root causes of your anger.

Sahaja Meditation Techniques for Eliminating Anger

  1. Meditate to balance the right energy channel and ensure that the right side channel can access the cooling energy that mediates or prevents angry reactions.
  2. Apply ice packs to the liver to help control anger. (The liver is located just below the right rib cage in the upper right side of the abdomen, above the pancreas and small intestine.)
  3. Those who experience anger will need to do foot soaking more often than normal, at least twice a day. Longer and deeper meditations help flush out negative emotions due to anger and over a period of time, the root cause of anger can be eliminated significantly, if not entirely.

Aftanas L., Golosheykin, S. (2005) Impact of regular meditation practice on EEG activity at rest and during evoked negative emotions. International Journal of Neuroscience 115: 893-909.

Aftanas, L.I., Varlamov, A.A., Pavlov, S.V., et al., Affective Picture Processing: Event-Related Synchronization within Individually Defined Human Theta Band Is Modulated by Valence Dimension, Neurosci. Lett., 2002, vol. 303, p. 115.

Aftanas LI, Golocheikine SA (2001) Human anterior and frontal midline theta and lower alpha reflect emotionally positive state and internalized attention: high-resolution EEG investigation of meditation. Neuroscience Letters 310: 57-60.

Stosny, Steven, Ph.D. Treating Attachement Abuse: A Compassionate Response. Springer Publishing Company: 1995. 1st edition.

Zollo, M., Berchicci, V., et al. RESPONSE: Understanding and Responding to Societal Demands on Corporate Responsibility. 2007.