I’m a huge fan of comic book hero movies, so of course, I was one of the contributor’s to the $1B that the Avengers movie grossed over the weekend. As much as I love the super powers that explode on screen thanks to computer generated imagery (CGI), I’ve always been fascinated by the back stories of the characters. In Batman, Bruce Wayne becomes empowered by surrendering to his overwhelming fear of bats. In the surrender, he conquers his fear.
And, then there’s the Hulk. The emotionally volatile alter ego of Bruce Banner appears Bruce is exposed go gamma radiation. When he becomes angry, Bruce transforms into a giant, green, uncontrollable rage monster. The conflict between Bruce and his inner Hulk is something many people struggle with everyday.
As intense as joy, anger is a a powerful emotion that most of us experience at some point in our lives. It has the power to take over, cloud our judgement, destroy relationships and even cause health problems. I’ve had my moments of ‘Hulkitutde’, but I came to realize that the people who suffer most when we don’t manage anger is ourselves.
“Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.” –Buddha
Often times anger arises because we feel we’ve lost control, and ironically, we can never really control anything external to ourselves. So, we feel frustration, anger, defeat, and a cycle begins. But, any cycle can be broken.
Managing anger doesn’t mean burying it inside or we just might end up exploding like the Hulk, or worse, experiencing the physical ills that come from suppressing emotion. Many spiritual traditions like Buddhism have techniques that enable us to react to our emotions without squashing it. Incidentally, suppressing emotion is, in itself, struggle and judgement which leads to suffering and potentially more anger.
You don’t have to go on a pilgrimage to Tibet to start releasing your anger in a more productive way. We first want to start by recognizing the symptoms of anger by paying attention to our own behavior and physical sensations in response to situations. Anger can manifest in frustration, withdrawal, panic attacks, judgement, increased pulse or blood pressure, sweating, lack of focus, fidgeting and of course outbursts.
Begin to bring awareness — without judgement — to these reactions. The simple act of awareness, begins to diffuse the bomb. Other techniques include practicing compassion, laughter, regular exercise like yoga. If you’re feeling extremely edgy, go for a run or try a Baptiste-style Power Yoga class, to release the energy and bring your focus back to the present moment. On the other hand, if you’re feeling withdrawn or frustrated, try some nurturing restorative yoga followed by you’re favorite funny movie to bring your awareness within.
And, of course, meditate. Meditation is purification. The simple act of sitting in silence for even ten minutes, can effect a release of emotion that has been bottled up for decades. Subtely, the energy begins to dissolve into the atmosphere instead of creating boiling lava-like turmoil inside.
So, take your Hulk to the mat, and let go of anger.
- Your Charmed Yogi