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Anger and Meditation
Answer
4/22/20 5:42 PM
Hi All,

New member here. I've been meaning to sign up for awhile as I don't have a teacher I can check in with when certain things come up during practice.

So twice this week I've felt an extremely strong sense of anger or rage come up in the context of meditating. This isn't the first time, but as I just had a session interrupted and am fresh in it, I thought I'd write. This issue might be better posed for therapist, but, here we go! I'm guessing I can't be the only person who has dealt with this.

I was listening to a guided mediation. About 20 minutes into a shamatha with an object practice, it shifted into a shamatha without an object practice. A few minutes after the instruction finished, I was in a warm, aware state, my mind relaxed, my body kind of buzzing from the focused breathing earlier. I then heard my cat behind my walking across the table the laptop was on. I then noticed the sound on my headphones go out. I realized she had probably walked across the keyboard and hit the pause button.

No worries.

I gently turned to my wife who was nearby and asked her if she could hit play to resume the practice.

Some time passed, and she's now telling me there was some kind of issue and she can't fix it. So I get up and walk over. I see the YouTube page had been changed, and for some reason I couldn't get it back to the page I was on.

Ok. No problem, I'll sit back down and try to get into again.

So I did. But despite being in this physically relaxed state, I felt a deep anger, almost a rage, suddenly appearing. I could sense that I could try and ignore it - "just let it go and settle back in" but minutes passed and I found myself stewing, unable to focus, unable to drop the interruption and suddenly very angry, to the point where I wanted to yell. The more I tried to calm myself down, the more I felt a desire to get angry and throw a fit.

This isn't the first time I've had a sit interrupted as I live in a small apartment with my wife and I've had similar feelings. Sometimes I'll come out of a deep mediation, and suddenly I'll find myself ready to fly into a rage over some small issue that comes up immediately after.

What's strange to me about this is I don't typically act this way. As in, if I were doing something else and was interrupted, I don't feel anger or rage, maybe slight annoyance sure, but nothing unusual.

There seems to be some kind of  tension I'm noticing between the relaxed state I enter into during mediation, and any friction that can arise during or shortly after, which sends me to an innapropriate level of anger. In my mind, meditation should be lessening my reactivity, but instead, I find it seems to make me more reactive than I am when not meditating.

Is this is any way 'normal'? Has anyone else experienced any kind of heightened anger as a result of meditation?

Thanks for your time.

*edit to add that I have been sick for 6 weeks now, partially quaratined, and was very tired when I sat down this evening*

RE: Anger and Meditation
Answer
4/22/20 6:37 PM as a reply to Brandon.
Hi Brandon,

This has happened to me. I think it's pretty normal and is called getting in touch with your anger. If we are uncomfortable with being angry for some reason (e.g. an angry parent) then we can repress our anger so that we can think of ourselves as not an angry person, which is more acceptable to us. The anger tends to come out as irritation or annoyance, or we can sometimes let ourselves get angry when it's "safe" (e.g. with a slow customer support person on the phone).

When you really open yourself up in meditation then what has been repressed will start to come out and it can be alarming if it conflicts with certain ideas you have about yourself. There's nothing wrong with this, it's very normal and a healthy sign, even if it can be alarming and you find yourself getting more angry in certain situations than you would otherwise have done before meditating. If your wife is open to it then you can let her know that's what is happening. At least if you are aware of it you can make adjustments (avoid certain situations or walk away to give yourself a time out). I found myself flying into rages for a while, which was hard for my kids, but it passed. And actually I think it's more healthy to get angry and then say sorry, rather than keep the anger in and remain irritated for longer which keep other people in a state of nervous tension.

Re. being increased anger after a calm meditation, I have also noticed this. I think it's a function of clinging to the calmness. You are so happy to have finally found some calm that you want it to continue and get annoyed when someone or something breaks the spell. That passes after a while as well as you get more used to having calm "on tap" so you don't need to cling to being calm all the time.

That's just my 2c. I'm not a therapist and I also have anger issues, so hopefully someone more knowledgeable will also chime in!

And oh yeah, being stuck inside for 6 weeks with your nearest and dearest can definitely be more stressful than normal! I've found humor to be very helpful. There's lots of funny videos flying around which my friends and I have been sharing in group chats.

Cheers
agnostic

RE: Anger and Meditation
Answer
4/22/20 6:59 PM as a reply to Brandon.
Brandon:
Hi All,

New member here. I've been meaning to sign up for awhile as I don't have a teacher I can check in with when certain things come up during practice.

So twice this week I've felt an extremely strong sense of anger or rage come up in the context of meditating. This isn't the first time, but as I just had a session interrupted and am fresh in it, I thought I'd write. This issue might be better posed for therapist, but, here we go! I'm guessing I can't be the only person who has dealt with this.

I was listening to a guided mediation. About 20 minutes into a shamatha with an object practice, it shifted into a shamatha without an object practice. A few minutes after the instruction finished, I was in a warm, aware state, my mind relaxed, my body kind of buzzing from the focused breathing earlier. I then heard my cat behind my walking across the table the laptop was on. I then noticed the sound on my headphones go out. I realized she had probably walked across the keyboard and hit the pause button.

No worries.

I gently turned to my wife who was nearby and asked her if she could hit play to resume the practice.

Some time passed, and she's now telling me there was some kind of issue and she can't fix it. So I get up and walk over. I see the YouTube page had been changed, and for some reason I couldn't get it back to the page I was on.

Ok. No problem, I'll sit back down and try to get into again.

So I did. But despite being in this physically relaxed state, I felt a deep anger, almost a rage, suddenly appearing. I could sense that I could try and ignore it - "just let it go and settle back in" but minutes passed and I found myself stewing, unable to focus, unable to drop the interruption and suddenly very angry, to the point where I wanted to yell. The more I tried to calm myself down, the more I felt a desire to get angry and throw a fit.

This isn't the first time I've had a sit interrupted as I live in a small apartment with my wife and I've had similar feelings. Sometimes I'll come out of a deep mediation, and suddenly I'll find myself ready to fly into a rage over some small issue that comes up immediately after.

What's strange to me about this is I don't typically act this way. As in, if I were doing something else and was interrupted, I don't feel anger or rage, maybe slight annoyance sure, but nothing unusual.

There seems to be some kind of  tension I'm noticing between the relaxed state I enter into during mediation, and any friction that can arise during or shortly after, which sends me to an innapropriate level of anger. In my mind, meditation should be lessening my reactivity, but instead, I find it seems to make me more reactive than I am when not meditating.

Is this is any way 'normal'? Has anyone else experienced any kind of heightened anger as a result of meditation?

Thanks for your time.

*edit to add that I have been sick for 6 weeks now, partially quaratined, and was very tired when I sat down this evening*

i think agnostic basically hit it on the nose with his words. I would only add that it may also be an early symptom of quiet-addiction, or serenity addiction, or bliss addiction, which afflicts most of us at various points, when we have to come off the sweetness of certain periods on the mat and run head-on into the simple grueling frustrations of daily life. But don't worry, this will end with nibbana. emoticon

RE: Anger and Meditation
Answer
4/23/20 3:49 AM as a reply to Brandon.
I remember this stage. It's a normal beginner stage where "Meditator" is starting to form. It is Me the Meditator sitting calmly here and the flickering agitating World over there. 

I the Meditator like it "in here" in this bliss and joy. Now that I the Meditator know about this bliss and joy that World "out there" seems even more unsatisfactory. 

I the Meditator desire this absorption bliss as a permanent state. I can't have it off the cushion it seems and this makes me agitated and unhappy.

I the Meditator start to realize that this Absorption Bliss is a very fragile phenomena that can't survive outside the realm of meditation and has nothing to do with being human in the world. I the Meditator am not happy with this idea as I always believed that meditation leads to a blissful and joyful life. 

So what then can I the Meditator do with this Absoption Bliss when in meditation if I can't have it as a permanent state out of meditation? 

I can be Mindful of it. I can Investigate it. I can see it as impermanent, unsatisfactory and not-self. 
I can do Insight practice. 

RE: Anger and Meditation
Answer
4/23/20 7:28 AM as a reply to Tim Farrington.
Thanks all for the thoughtful responses.

I've read and heard about, for years, how meditation can bring up underlying issues or emotional turbulence, but for some reason I haven't seen my anger response pattern as potentially being included within that. I've experienced sadness, bliss and frustration while meditating, but haven't assigned anything that comes up off the mat to my practice.

Yes, there is definitely some bliss clinging, I think. What are some strategies for pulling out of that?

I think this week it's particularly heightened. I was in an (online) retreat this past Saturday, working with non-dual practices. One of the exercises opened up a large amount of physical bliss, to the point where I tearing up at how good I felt, both mentally and physically. There was an afterglow that lasted the rest of the day and into the next morning as I was able to keep some awarness practices active. So I have found myself chasing that experience this week. "Oh, THAT is available to me on tap? I'll have another."

And yes, agnostic, I was able to talk with my wife about it after. Bless her for putting up with me.

RE: Anger and Meditation
Answer
4/23/20 8:19 AM as a reply to Brandon.
"Yes, there is definitely some bliss clinging, I think. What are some strategies for pulling out of that?"

Note it by Labeling it. Give it a label of your choosing. I would call it "clinging" or even "urge" (to cling) or even "desire". Keep noting/labeling anything that accompanies this "clinging/desire/urge" which is a mental state. See if there is a Feeling there like Pleasant, Neutral or Unpleasant. Also see if there is a body sensation connected to this Clinging Urge, like preassure in solar plexus or in lower belly or in the head or .., 

Keep Noting/Labeling and by doing this getting Insights into Dependent Origination rather than wasting time in some bliss chasing emoticon Do the actual work that leads to Liberation-Wisdom. 

RE: Anger and Meditation
Answer
4/23/20 8:22 AM as a reply to Papa Che Dusko.
By the way I use Noting Aloud as in silent noting I can quickly get lost in Thoughts/Scenario Spinning. See which one works best for you. 

RE: Anger and Meditation
Answer
4/23/20 8:28 AM as a reply to Papa Che Dusko.
Another helpful perspective is that Jhana Bliss is no better than Itch Annoyance. Remind yourself that the practice is to see ALL Experience for what is. No matter if it's Pleasant or Unpleasant. Paying attention to ALL experience without placing any of them above the other, as none of them are better or worse. As good scientist say "good science is good observation". 

By the way nothing wrong with Jhana Bliss as there is nothing wrong with the Annoying Itch. All is good objects for observing their true nature and gaining Insight (leading to liberating dispassion)

RE: Anger and Meditation
Answer
4/23/20 8:38 AM as a reply to Brandon.
Brandon:
Thanks all for the thoughtful responses.

I've read and heard about, for years, how meditation can bring up underlying issues or emotional turbulence, but for some reason I haven't seen my anger response pattern as potentially being included within that. I've experienced sadness, bliss and frustration while meditating, but haven't assigned anything that comes up off the mat to my practice.

Yes, there is definitely some bliss clinging, I think. What are some strategies for pulling out of that?

I think this week it's particularly heightened. I was in an (online) retreat this past Saturday, working with non-dual practices. One of the exercises opened up a large amount of physical bliss, to the point where I tearing up at how good I felt, both mentally and physically. There was an afterglow that lasted the rest of the day and into the next morning as I was able to keep some awarness practices active. So I have found myself chasing that experience this week. "Oh, THAT is available to me on tap? I'll have another."

And yes, agnostic, I was able to talk with my wife about it after. Bless her for putting up with me.

I second everything that Papa Che says. I would also add that the bliss (piti in jhana terminology) is definitely physically addictive. I think it activates the same dopamine/reward systems as other drugs, so it may be helpful to look at it through that lens. It also starts to get a bit tiresome after a while, especially as you observe the hangover effects (increased irritation). You can start to let the piti/bliss settle and tap into the underlying sukha/happiness, which is the next jhana factor and is more mellow. But don't ask me about that because I'm still working on it lol.

RE: Anger and Meditation
Answer
4/23/20 8:52 AM as a reply to agnostic.
agnostic, no offence, mate, but you are REALLY PISSING ME OFF!
emoticon

RE: Anger and Meditation
Answer
4/23/20 8:52 AM as a reply to Tim Farrington.
nah. emoticon

RE: Anger and Meditation
Answer
4/23/20 2:43 PM as a reply to agnostic.
Thanks Pape Che and Agnostic. Noted ;)

Good point on the addictive quality. There could be an addictive element there - definitely.