I used to consider myself someone who just didn’t get angry. Instead of getting mad, I’d get sad. Any time something occurred in my life that brought up anything remotely close to anger I would instantly turn it into sadness. This happened deep under the surface of my consciousness; I never knew I was doing it, and it happened before any hint of anger had a chance to show its face.
Does this mean I didn’t ever have a reason to get angry? Did it mean I was really good at “handling” my anger? Was I healthier for controlling my emotions?
Nope. Even though I did my best to convince myself it wasn’t there, that anger had to go somewhere, and if I hadn’t had been so good at crying it out, it would have stagnated within me. Now, I am not saying it’s a healthy habit to automatically change your anger into sadness. I had to unlearn that one, and it took work. I had to learn to honor my anger just as much as my joy.
Every emotion is valid.
Spring is symbolized by the energy of the wood element. Wood correlates to the liver, and to the positive aspects of growth, productivity, and hope; but what about its negative aspects? Wood energy can also manifest as aggression, resentment, and anger, and it is valuable to acknowledge both sides of this energy—the dark and the light—with equal respect. This is much like what the planet is doing right now, during this time of year when the length of day becomes equal to that of night, light is balanced with dark, and yin is equivalent to yang.
This is the Vernal Equinox, which went into its peak energy at 10:30PM MST on Saturday (March 19); it is the midpoint of spring, according to the Chinese seasonal calendar. In harmony with this potent cosmological event, what are some ways we can honor our dark sides as much as we do our light? Why is it that emotions of joy, optimism, and kindness are viewed as emotions that do us “good,” while feeling depression, hostility, irritation, or anger make us feel like we’re being “bad?” How can we begin to balance ourselves by allowing both sides of our emotions to have a place?
Controlling your emotions in a way that holds them in, packs them down, and makes them silent is a definite path toward ill health, unbalance, and even disease. So how do you deal with your emotions? What is the purpose of those pesky feelings, anyway?
It’s all about communication and balance. Your emotions are messages, there to help you navigate your way through life. They show you what you really need, and help you decipher what you truly want in this life. But, here’s the kicker: You will never be able to know what your emotions are trying to tell you unless you give them the right to exist within you first. By giving your emotions—the “good” and the “bad” alike—the space to be, you simultaneously give them the space to move on.
If you can get into the practice of letting yourself feel what comes up, without judging, stifling, or overindulging in your emotions, you then allow them the right to be there, which opens you up to understanding yourself more deeply.
Let them be in order to let them go, and then you’ll begin to notice what it is they’re trying to get you to see. Sadness might want you to have more compassion for yourself. Worry’s message for you may be about letting go. Anger may be telling you it’s time to speak your truth.
Anger is only detrimental when we deny its power to heal us.
How do you react when anger comes up? Do you stifle it away? Do you rage violently and then feel guilty afterward? Do you turn it into sadness?
Or do you let it be there? Do you listen to it? Do you let yourself feel angry without overindulging in the emotion and letting it carry you away? Do you learn from your anger, or do you resist it?
Most people either rush to extinguish its flames or douse it with gasoline, and either way we miss the point. Anger is a message. What is your anger telling you?
Ask yourself these questions and intend to be aware of your responses to anger (or any other emotion we typically label as negative). Then make a commitment to experiencing what it's like to be a conscious witness the next time a strong emotion arises for you.
Follow the way of the planet; let the earth help you relax into your place of balance. For only when you are balanced on the springboard can you leap forth with conviction into the waters of possibility waiting to catch you. As we work through this wood season, allow your body to speak to you through your emotions, and let those emotions—the light and the dark— help you recognize what you need in order to reach your full potential.
This post is dated February 29, 2016. It was originally sent out as the first in the Monday Meditation series.
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The air is warming and the insects are awakening. The trees are beginning to give off their pollen and our sinuses can feel it. The days are lengthening, giving us opportunity to expand our perspectives and start anew.
Welcome to spring!
Using the Chinese seasonal calendar, we now find ourselves at the start of the new season. Each season correlates to one of the five elements — Water, Fire, Wood, Metal, or Earth. Dates and time frames include transition periods, which are represented by the Earth element, and in contrast to the Gregorian calendar most of us are used to, the Chinese “rural calendar” uses the Equinoxes and Solstices as marks of the midpoints of the seasons as opposed to the beginning dates.
Wood is the element of spring, time for new beginnings!
On February 26 we moved into the Wood time of year, which peaks at the Vernal Equinox on March 19 at 10:30PM Mountain Standard Time (MST). Wood is the element of the liver and gall bladder, the eyes, muscles, tendons, and ligaments. It corresponds to the positive aspects of excitement, growth, and productivity.
This spring call upon the element of wood to charge up your intentions with excitement, eagerness, and enthusiasm.
From now until the Equinox, be sure to give a boost of excitement to whatever it is you are intending for yourself. If you have a new project you are envisioning, a business or personal endeavor you are about to begin, or a new path of focus you would like to set forth, take time at least once a day to imagine it coming to fruition in the best possible way.
And get pumped about it!
Creating something new requires commitment to take each step to reach your goal. But this doesn’t have to mean forcing yourself into a stressful grind to hustle your way there.
Half the job of creating discipline comes from the act of remembering to do your work.
This week’s Qi Challenge is a simple practice of setting intentions. It only takes a few minutes and has profound effects.
The most important step of this challenge is to create a reminder. Write yourself a note and place it somewhere in which you will pay attention to it. Use your smart phone or computer to set a daily alarm labeled something like, “State your intention!” or “Declare what you want!” or better yet, write your intention directly into your alarm label or handwritten reminder.
Each day, at a time of the day at which you will be available to turn your attention inward for a few minutes, follow these steps for creating a welcoming place for your intentions to be nurtured.
Close your eyes and cover your lower dan tien with your hands, one on top of the other. The lower dan tien is the energy center located a couple inches below your navel, on the midline within your body. Move your awareness into your body. Look inside. Listen.
Then, choose your personal resolve for the next two weeks. What do you want to start? How do you want to feel? Where would you like to see your passion take you? What fresh start would make you feel inspired and joyful?
Examples may be, “I will make healthy decisions about what I eat and drink,” “I will find peace and rejuvenation in my tai chi practice,” or, “I am open to receiving inspiration toward learning what it is I truly want.”
State your personal resolve three times, mentally, or out loud. Take a moment to imagine what your life would feel like having attained your objective. Then feel a sense of excitement, as though you have reached your goal already. Feel the excitement fill you up and then follow it up with gratitude.
When you’re ready, open your eyes, release your focus, and take that inspired feeling into the rest of your day!