Mindfulness is often confused with emptiness. Mindfulness is a practice rooted in buddhism which simply asks the practitioner to grow in their awareness of their surroundings. Noticing, paying attention, and becoming aware are all mindful practice that help separate one from their thoughts and grow in autonomy over what they are thinking. Zen is a particular form of Buddhist practice which seeks to help the follower create emptiness in their minds, detaching entirely from any emotional state. Mindfulness does not asks practitioners to do this. Instead, it simply suggest taking an honest look at what is feeling. Most people are unable to identify their feelings. Though they know they are feeling something, they are often lacking in the awareness, as well as the emotional articulation, to specifically identify what they are feeling. Consequently, mindfulness is not the absence of emotion, but the heightened awareness of it. For mindfulness, all emotions are equal.
Anger is a secondary emotion. Lying beneath the surface of anger there are usually two emotions: fear and sadness. Try telling someone who is steaming over with anger that they are really scared or sad. Anger is a powerful emotion. As human beings, we developed anger out of a need to survive. When we feel anger, we release stress hormones which go surging through our bodies, increasing our heart rate and causing us to be hyper vigilant to what is going on around us. Feeling anger can feel unmanageable. It’s a hungry emotion that has no satisfying end to it. Anger has nowhere to go and no resolution without action. As a result, we are left with adrenaline and cortisol running through our system and not putting it to use. Society has painted a dark picture of anger. With a negative connotation and stigma, when people feel angry they often try to get rid of it, thinking it is bad. Anger is not a bad thing to feel. Anger is a natural thing to feel. Practicing mindfulness during a phase of anger can be beneficial for examining the anger and discovering where it is coming from. There is nothing about anger which cancels out or interferes with mindfulness. Quite the opposite, anger practically begs for a moment of mindfulness.
If you re feeling angry and cannot focus on mindfulness, know that is completely normal. It may take some time for your anger to subside before you can get grounded again. Continue to stay aware and recognize that like all other emotional experiences, anger is passing.
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