Anger is a common emotion and is not unhealthy in itself. Anger can help move you to action, revealing areas of pain or frustration and indicating the need for boundaries. However, there can be instances in which anger causes individuals to act in dangerous or unhealthy ways, necessitating the development of reliable anger-related coping skills. One such skill is meditation, an ancient practice that can reduce challenging emotions and help one feel connected to themselves, their relationships, and their environment.
What Is Anger? A Quick Review
Anger is one of the many human emotions observed in people of all ages, races, and backgrounds. Like the other emotions ascribed to humans, anger is considered essential to humanity's overall survival and function. Anger is typically tied to a "fight or flight" response incited in the brain in the presence of a threat, offering a window into survival instincts designed to keep humans safe after millennia of evolution. An angry response is not a negative response by default. However, physical changes in the body in response to anger, like an increased heart rate, respiratory rate, and blood pressure, can prove harmful over time.
With improper management, anger can escalate, progressing to violent behavior or becoming a chronic condition, which places significant stress on the body. Experiencing constant anger leads to chronic health conditions, including physical conditions like hypertension and mental conditions like anxiety. By using proper responses and strategies, dealing with anger can be a healthy process.
Meditation: An Anger Management Exercise
Anger management skills may not come naturally for everyone. Instead, some learn to manage anger through professional counseling, introspection, body awareness, and a careful understanding of their motives and the motives of others. Anger management strategies range from breathing exercises to more complex systems involving therapy, medication regimens, and intensive evaluation.
Although the methods to treat anger vary based on background, the severity of the situation, and the availability of treatment, there are numerous methods you can enlist to begin your anger management process, including a consistent meditation practice. Meditation is sometimes dismissed as a religious tradition or a mysticism practice. Still, increasing bodies of research reveal that meditation offers proven benefits for emotional, mental, and physical well-being, regardless of spiritual belief.
How To Cope With Anger Using Meditation
While meditation can be a powerful tool for mental and physical health, beginning meditation practice from scratch may be challenging. Some people who try meditation may experience their attention wandering and struggle to settle down to sit and clear their minds. To begin, start slow; a 20-minute practice does not have to be the initial goal. Starting with two minutes and increasing in two-minute increments can create a foundation for consistent, reliable meditation practice.
Although any form of meditation can be functional, guided meditation practices may be helpful for those who aren't familiar with the techniques. For example, the Loving Kindness Meditation (LKM) has been studied. It regularly correlates to increased happiness, decreased stress, and an increased ability to experience empathy and compassion. Each of these changes can potentially improve reactions to anger and weaken the adverse effects of anger altogether.
Although often beneficial, Loving Kindness is not the only effective type of meditation. Focusing on a word as you breathe in and out, holding a particular posture, or focusing on your breath are also practical meditation methods. These habits can begin with or without the help of a group or designated teacher and can be employed in any situation.
Group Meditation For Anger Management
Meditation does not have to be practiced alone; it may be practiced in a group setting, with an experienced practitioner guiding you and others into a prosperous meditative state. Some yoga studios, community centers, and mental health facilities offer group meditation classes. This format for meditation may be helpful for anyone who struggles to engage with new ideas or activities, as you will be guided carefully and can refer to others for assistance and support.
Finding a group to meditate with could also be an online affair. You can meditate from your couch with your computer or phone by your side. There are apps designed to offer online group meditation, or you could create your own digital community. Online group meditation may be helpful for anyone seeking a community to meditate with when they are unable to or do not want to leave home.
Coping With Anger Through Regular Meditation
Although meditation often achieves positive effects quickly, it is not a quick, once-in-a-while strategy to keep anger at bay. Meditation allows its practitioners to slow down, deeply feel, and assess experiences and emotions as they come rather than immediately reacting to whatever emotion has arisen. This process can be helpful for anger, as anger is often tied to violence, fear, and dramatic emotional upset. With consistent use, meditation can prove an effective antidote to angry reactivity and can help users channel and healthily experience anger.
However, meditation is not the sole answer to eradicating or sorting through anger issues. Although meditation may quell seemingly insurmountable bouts of fury, some instances require additional support. Some therapists and counselors incorporate meditation into ongoing anger management coaching and similar avenues to create a meditation practice unique to your specific goals and needs.
Some people may hope to experience fewer outbursts of anger, striving instead for contentment. Others are eager to find anything capable of satiating their anger and, when applicable, any corresponding violence it causes. Meditation can tailor a treatment plan involving personal meditation tools and routines, including improving self-talk, creating more space for compassion and empathy, and considering others' perspectives.
Improving anger is not dismissing your feelings altogether but determining the root of chronic anger and healing the beliefs and experiences creating the negative responses.
Meditation In A Professional Setting
Self-administered meditation routines might only take you so far before the need for a more disciplined and powerful practice arises. In these instances, professional meditation interventions can be employed. These interventions can be delivered through a licensed mental health professional, such as a psychologist, counselor, or meditation instructor with a background in mental health. As with basic meditation practices, professional settings can be solitary or group efforts, depending on your needs and comfort level.
Professional meditation interventions can also be helpful for those struggling to identify the common denominator in their emotional outbursts. While anger may be expected, constant bouts of anger that are uncontrollable or overwhelming are indicative of a deeper issue than an upset in your day.
A professional may help you identify the cause of your anger as a whole and work to unravel the beliefs, fears, or traumatic events responsible for anger's onset and your behavioral urges using meditation practices during your sessions. One study found that meditation had a powerful effect on elevated levels of anger and aggression in youth, with the participants reporting significantly reduced levels of aggression and anger one month after treatment.
Alternative Anger Support Options
Working with a professional to create an effective anger management strategy for your unique situation can be possible. Applying the principles of meditation in a therapeutic setting can take meditation practice to another level for those struggling to see the positive effects of meditation on their anger. As with group meditation, therapeutic meditation can be utilized face-to-face or online through services like those offered by BetterHelp.
Online therapy platforms often offer access to thousands of licensed mental health professionals from various backgrounds. Online counseling is as effective as traditional therapy for treating challenges like anxiety, depression, and trauma, including excessive anger among their symptom lists. Online therapy is often accessible, convenient, and more affordable than traditional therapy without insurance coverage.
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