Anger is something that many of us deal with in our lives. It comes in many forms: frustration, rage, irritation, resentments, and more. I have worked with people who have sought help from a spiritual advisor, tried eating healthier, tried changing their surroundings, and done many more things to try to heal the anger. In my personal experience, practicing meditation to reduce anger has been one of the most helpful tools.
Can Mindfulness Help Reduce Anger?
As I’ve practiced mindfulness meditation over the last 10 years or so, I have certainly become less and less angry. As I type that, I think that’s not necessarily the truth. The truth is that I can bring awareness and compassion to the anger much more quickly today than ten years ago.
I am able to recognize the anger when it is just beginning to arise, and work with metta and compassion to respond more gently. I still grow frustrated, irritated, etc. But, the difference today is in the way I relate to and respond to the experience. Meditation has been key to this change in relationship.
But enough of my anecdotal evidence. As we discuss in our post about the benefits of meditation, there has been quite a bit of research on mindfulness and meditation. For example, a 2011 study found that loving-kindness and compassion practices may provide an effective means of reducing anger.
According to the Greater Good Magazine of UC Berkeley, mindfulness meditation can help us change our response to difficult stimulus and not act out of anger. This is huge. We may be able to feel the anger, experience it, and not cause harm through our behavior.
At the end of the day, we’re all individuals. Both my experience and research suggest that meditation practice may help with anger. However, it’s ultimately up to you and your experience.
The Importance of Heart Practices
Although mindfulness is indeed helpful in dealing with frustrations and irritations, we also need to bring the heart practices in. As mentioned before, a study that found meditation to be beneficial was actually looking at loving-kindness and compassion meditations.
Personally, I find self-compassion to be one of the greatest tools in my toolbox. When I began to tune into how uncomfortable the anger and rage felt in my mind and body, I worked to respond with self-compassion. This allows me to change the way I relate to the experience, and care for it rather than allow it to grow.
When I do get angry, I also find forgiveness toward myself a necessary practice. Without dedicating effort to forgiveness for myself and for others, I often find myself holding onto things and allowing them to fester. I work with many forgiveness exercises both personally and in dyads to slowly work through it.
If you’re interested in cultivating these heart practice, I recommend checking out our 21 Days of Heart Practices program.
Meditations for Anger
Before jumping into the different types of meditation for anger, I want to throw out there that a loving-kindness meditation can always serve as a fantastic practice for dealing with anger. We can do it before we’re angry on a regular basis, while we are angry, or once we have settled down.
Guided Meditation on Self-Forgiveness
First, we have a meditation on self-forgiveness. As I mentioned a bit earlier, I find self-forgiveness to be an absolutely essential practice for dealing with anger. It helps us to begin opening up to a new way to relate to the experience. If you’re experiencing anger toward another, you may also try using this practice for that person.
Letting Go of Anger Meditation
This is a simple mindfulness practice for working with anger. The basic idea is to observe the experience, and allow it to come and go. This is what has been most beneficial in my practice, and I hope it is as useful to you! Remember, this practice takes time and continual work.
Quick Meditation for Anger
This is just a short meditation I recently recorded that you can use to help deal with anger that you are experiencing. It contains a bit of mindfulness and a bit of compassion, and is essentially the basics of how I approach anger on a daily basis in myself.
Self Compassion Practice
Finally, we have a practice in self-compassion. In my experience, this is an absolute must in the toolbox for dealing with anger and frustration. This helps us to respond more gently, and not further feed the anger. I encourage you to make self-compassion a part of your daily meditation practice!
I also have quite a few practices that are quick and easy in my recent book, Practicing Mindfulness: 75 Essential Meditations to Reduce Stress, Improve Mental Health, and Find Peace in the Everyday.
For more inspiration, read our Quotes about Anger.