Q&A: Practicing with overwhelming anger and sadness

Updated: Feb 4



Q: I am feeling blocked and I am trying to figure out a way forward. I have sat and practiced but something seems to be blocking me connecting with the feelings and I think it is anger. 😡


I am feeling pain in the form of sadness and then I start to feel angry and that overtakes everything. My thoughts then erupt with all the things I want to say. Most of them hurtful. The sadness is deep and all consuming…what do I do?


A: You know that I’m going to say that this is a good thing, right? 😊 This is very insightful and self-aware! To be here is the product of lots of good work. Though for sure, the present experience is intense suffering. It’s the kind of log-jam you find yourself in when you’re at a point that you’ve never been at, let alone gotten through before.


I’m going to suggest that you let the sadness consume you – in a particular way – and see what happens.


First of all, you have to get in control of your mind, via your breath and body postures (subtle wonderbreath and sit/stand@attention). Then, focus in on the sensational/body side of the sadness (not the thought side) – and stay there with it. This is your practice – sit in it and observe it. Feel it change over time. Don’t worry too much about the distinction between the physical and emotional aspects of the sadness – it’ll all be a bit mixed up – but do have some physical awareness of it in the mix.


When it flips to anger, try and stay with / return to the sensational side (not the thought side) of the anger, until it eventually subsides back into sadness. When it erupts into thoughts, slip out of that flow when you’re able, and back to the emotion, and then back into sensations. This takes whatever time it takes, but the practice is applicable at every stage.


Don’t worry about being stuck in thoughts (or anger) sometimes, but keep actively doing your breath and body posture practices (subtly, but stronger when necessary). Leave all specific thought contents as soon as you can. At first this might look like stepping back and noticing the busy energy of thoughts, but at some point, you’ll sink back into the anger/sadness. At any point, tune into whatever sensational body feel is prevalent (which could be the feel of thoughts, emotions or the body).


Over time, you’re going to find out just how deep this sadness is. But, just like a diver going down to the ocean floor, you must stay connected to your air (inspiration) – which is your breath and body postures.


In the process of going deep, you’re going to let the sadness consume you. You’ll surrender to it. This may feel problematic, and like you should avoid it! But at some point, you’ll reach a kind of equilibrium, where you’re just resting with the sadness, and then eventually you’ll notice that actually you’re metabolising it! Just by being aware of it and accepting it. This is how the candle wax burns off.


You’re transforming the wax into sheer strength of mind. The strength that’s required to stay deep within and richly aware of the sadness (or anger, or thoughts) with an accepting body. This is the catalyst for whole new physical, emotional and thinking postures. You’re being aware & accepting of yourself = you’re loving yourself! 😍

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