I've noticed that people don't like to be angry, especially me. Anger just hasn't fit in with the personality profile I have held for myself. I'm always trying to convince myself that I am a "nice" person, but I have some emotions inside of me that are not-so-nice, like anger. So I struggle with this because I don't want to do what I've done up to now which is to reject it. My anger is a force that I need to do a better job of acknowledging!
I think that this is why I have been so entranced by the story of the Warrior, Virabhadra! It offers insight into how experiences of Anger and Grief might give opportunities to grow. Everything in the story is about acting and doing, and I find that my own patterns are more about resisting, holding back and holding on. I hate that! I want to fly. I want to move, but I am caught in the web of my own fears. (Poor me... I hate that, too!)
In the story Shiva, the Lord of the Universe (try thinking: the decision-maker in my (or your) psyche), is overcome with Grief and Rage. In the emotional storm, Shiva pulls out his hair. It falls to the ground and takes the form of Virabhadra: a great Warrior. This Grief and Anger now has it's own life, separate from Shiva.
Virabhadra turns to salute Shiva.
This is the moment that interests me. I see this story from ancient India working inside me: I get angry. My anger takes on a life of its own. (Who hasn't done something in anger that they would not have done under normal circumstances??) But it looks like (in this mythical language) I might be offered a chance to channel the energy of my anger towards service. That's what that line means to me: Virabhadra turns to salute Shiva.
In Light on Yoga, Mr. Iyengar says:
"A powerful hero named Virabhadra rose up and awaited his orders."
Can the energy of anger be heroic? I was always taught that anger was bad. I judged this emotion. I have been harmed by the misdirected anger of others. It frightens me. This anger that has been misfired towards me has also taught me that anger is bad. Wrong. It was wrong to be hurt like that.
But when I use what I learned through the uncontrolled missteps of others to put out the flames of my own will, that doesn't seem quite right either.
This is my project: I want to honor my anger when it salutes my inner decision-maker. I'd like to empower myself to use the energy of this resource to do the right thing, rather than lashing out without restraint, or directing it inward, hurting myself. But that seems so hard! The feelings of Grief and Anger are so intense and strong! My natural tendency is to get rid of them as fast as I can (without thinking). Can I bring these strong entities into a conscious framework and survive the experience?? It sounds dramatic, but I think that is the fear that I haven't addressed. In the moment of strong emotion the Fear in me says, "No! I don't want to be here! Let me hide." Fear is not the master I want to salute.
Now I know I want to be there (and not run away) so I can make the right choice and use my Warriors appropriately.
Do you think that we have inner Warriors, as aspects of our consciousness, that can be used to do our bidding, and help us in life? Or are we at the mercy of our own feelings?
I think that the unconscious and unvoiced belief that I've held up to now is that 'my anger might control me', so I've repressed it because I didn't want to be run by my anger. Perhaps I can empower myself to process this experience differently and dare to be a bitch when it is called for.
This is what the pose Virabhadrasana One (pictured above) means to me. This Warrior is an earth being with a long stance. She is well connected to her truth with a strong foundation on Earth as she moves through time. The arms and gaze are directed upward, offering energies (of possibly difficult emotions) to her decision-maker residing in her best self. And she does what needs to be done, even when it isn't pretty.
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