Thursday, October 15, 2009

Repressed Anger

I saw a black bear in the woods today! So neat... I was reading in one of the many comfortable chairs at Kripalu this afternoon and a woman near by told me that she had seen a bear. Wow! So that's when we went out to see if it was still around, and it was. It was far enough off the trail that I really wasn't worried. The bear didn't seem concerned, either. She looked at us and then looked away and looked again. So cool.

I was also thinking about repressed anger today after this morning's practice:

Anger in the unconscious mind knows no bounds because it lives in a totally creative and limitless realm. When this kind of anger bubbles through into conscious understanding the images can be really horrible because it was repressed in the lawless subconscious. The ordinary rules of good manners fail here.

It takes "knowing yourself" into a totally different place to see and feel the things that have been hidden. And strangely enough I feel greater compassion having seen what I saw today. I am humbled by my insight.

This came from an experience in yoga today, from a long hold in the pigeon pose. Seane Corn was saying some nice words about forgiveness and I seemed to take a psychic dump about someone I had some repressed anger about. And it was UGLY!

This is something that can happen during yoga. Sometimes people have realizations. I have gone through the motions of forgiving this person a couple times already, but I now see clearly that there is anger. My body told me. I saw it. And I am not ignoring it. However, seeing the depth of this particular wound humbles me. My mind can say, "I forgive you," and this might be a lie. There is a deeper reality where even if you want to forgive because it looks like life would be easier if you did, you can't choose forgiveness from the mental realm. There is a truth, a heart truth. I'm mad as hell, and I can't talk or think my anger away. Since it looks like I can't choose not to have this anger I find myself wondering if the solution lies in faith and prayer. I'm not trying to go religious on anyone, here, I just know that the way I've been doing it up to now is not working, and a bit of fresh air seems to be offering itself from a larger perspective.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone


Bob Weisenberg said...

See this related article about anger and Yoga at Elephant Journal:

"Bare Teeth, Clenched Fists and Yoga" by Abby Thompson

I left a comment at Elephant with the link to your blog, too, since yours is a vivid real life example of what she describes in her article.

Bob Weisenberg

Anonymous said...

Hey Brooks,
You're writing about a topic I am all too familiar with - anger, repressed or otherwise.

Even though I seem to have the ability to 'let loose' with my anger every now and then (and its not pretty when that happens!), I do think much of my anger is repressed. I think that because like you, I've observed it during yoga and meditation and just through the old but faithful yogic practice of watching one's thoughts.

I know exactly what you mean about "thinking" you've forgiven someone but then still having this insane amount of anger bubbling below the surface.

And I've got a few theories. My guru would say that we need to de-couple the story from what's really happening. That story and drama can keep us in anger far longer than is necessary. He also talks about breaking it all down to the gunas, the underlying experiences we're having within ourselves.

Whether our feelings are rough, hard, smooth, liquid, solid, firey, cold etc... and meditating on those experiences.

For me that works sometimes, other times it doesn't.

The other thing I suspect about our anger is that we hold onto it because we feel fundamentally short-changed in some way. As though someone has 'taken' something from us. Of course, we know that's not possible. No one can take anything away from us unless we allow it/give it away.

Somewhere in that anger is a lie we are telling ourselves. A lie which says we were hard done by, by another. That it was "someone else's" fault. And we allow that lie to rage on and we never take responsibility for our own actions.

However inocuous, there are things we did leading up to the situation that's left us feeling so angry. Some of those things couldn't be helped, but others... well perhaps they can.

Let me be clear - I'm not talking about people who've been abused as kids or mugged or something like this. I'm not talking about a blame game where we flagellate ourselves over past experiences.

But I am saying, most of the time when we hold onto anger against another person, its got something to do with how we percieve ourselves in relation to that act and/or that person.

BTW, very cool that you saw a bear!

YogaforCynics said...

That's really about seeing the bear--I've seen I think about six eastern black bears in the wild, but all of them were further south (New Jersey, Virginia, North Carolina), and all ran away from me--guess even the bears can pick up on that Kripalu energy (even if you're feeling pissed off...).

I can certainly relate on the anger front--often old rage will resurface and I'll think "jeezus, haven't I worked through that in therapy/writing/yoga/meditation/all of the above?" And the answer, clearly, is no. I wonder if, perhaps, fighting it, or seeing it as something to be worked out or gotten rid of, is part of the problem. Or maybe I've just been reading too much Jon Kabat Zinn...

By the way, your blog posts over the past week, combined with a number of other circumstances, have just about made me decide to head up to Kripalu in November...

Linda-Sama said...

I also know what you mean and svasti said it for me: "I know exactly what you mean about "thinking" you've forgiven someone but then still having this insane amount of anger bubbling below the surface."

I woke up one morning with excrutiating back pain about a month after -- and I will say it so all can hear it that the yoga biz world is not all peace love dove -- an alcoholic yoga studio owner fired me because I stood up to her about her walking into my classes drunk. and on top of that, only one teacher supported me. I felt totally betrayed by the teachers ("The other thing I suspect about our anger is that we hold onto it because we feel fundamentally short-changed in some way.") which is why the phrase "yoga community" makes me gag. it doesn't exist as far as I am concerned and people merely give it lip service.

thank goodness I found people who can help me with this, and after 2 years (this month) my back is nowhere near what it was. and yes, I have also done lots of inner personal work.