Anger by Thich Nhat Hanh was recommended to me by my teacher. Her exact words were, it will change everything. She was right. This book gave me the skills I need to "cool the flames of difficult emotions" and I have put them into practice near daily. If you have every struggled with anger or any other difficult emotion, please get this book, read it and take it to heart. Here is a snapshot of what I learned and what I found to be most practical.
- Take good care of your anger : when anger comes, take care of it - nothing can be accomplished while one is in a state of intense emotion, so go and take care of it. There are two ways to do this. The first, go back to yourself and do not say or do anything; the second, breathe, breathe consciously - just breathing in and out is enough. If you need it, add mindful walking and smiling.
- Look deeply into your anger. Practice until you understand the root of your anger and how it works. When a baby cries, a mother will stop what she is doing and attend to him. Anger acts much in the same way. It is your "baby" and just as a skilled mother can find out what it wrong with her baby very quickly, you can also with our anger. You have to practice this until you understand this. One way to do this, after taking care of you anger, is to ask anger to "open itself up to you." Work to uncover the seeds of anger. Notice if the seed of anger is being watered too often. "We cultivate the energy of mindfulness, the first insight we have is that the main cause of our suffering, of our misery, is not the other person - it is the seed of anger in us." Once you realize this, you can stop blaming another person, situation, or circumstance. You can begin to take responsibility for your thoughts and actions.
- Practice mindful breathing all the time. Take very good care of your body. Eat mindfully, consume with all your senses and try not to consume things that nurture anger. Practice during times of peace so that when a situation comes up, and it will, you can remember your practice.
- Make a peace treaty. Promise to express your anger in a gentle, mindful, and compassionate way so as not to cause more suffering. Make an appointment with whomever contributed to your suffering. I use this example - I have it posted on my fridge. Using this took my marriage to a completely new level - we solved a long time problem that was causing us both to suffer - simply by listening. I also use a simplified version with my boys.
- Practice compassionate listening and using loving speech: during the appointment, you must let the person speak, without interrupting, until they are completely finished. You must practice compassionate listening. The idea is that you are listening to relieve another' suffering. "You are listening with only one purpose: to allow the other person to express himself and find relieve from his suffering." You can do this by mindfully breathing while the other is speaking. When it is your turn to speak, speak with loving speech. This takes practice, lots and lots and lots of practice.