Wednesday, September 15, 2010

In the Heat

Welcoming Anger and Letting it Do its Work of Positive Self-Transformation: a Crucial Part of Feminine Mindfulness.

Anger is not to be mistaken with ill-will, its close cousin. Anger, of the kind that has been visiting me more and more, is to be welcomed, not uprooted. 

The challenge lies in how to live skillfully with that anger. Not projecting it as it would be so easy to do, but owning it fully instead, and seeing it for what it is: a helpful force and a necessary step along the path of feminine actualization. I am finding Linda Schierse Leonard's analysis extremely helpful in that regard:
"Rage can release the wounded woman, for her wound has a burning center that stings and hurts. Some women repress the hurt and the anger that goes with it. And then that anger turns inward, perhaps in the form of bodily symptoms or depressive suicidal thoughts that paralyze their lives and their creativity. Others let their rage out, but run over people in the process. In their hurt, they hurt others. No matter in which direction the rage goes, it is unfocused, unformed, and explosive. But it also carries powerful energy which, if utilized well, could release their potentiality as women. Rage can be a central force fro redeeming the father and transforming the feminine . . . 
The rage needs to be recognized and released before it can be transformed . . .
How can the wounded woman connect with such powerful rage instead of being threatened and terrified of it? And how can she transform the rage into creative energy? In my experience, there are at least two stages: first getting the rage out and then transforming the power of the anger into creative energy . . . 
Quite often the wounded woman is afraid of the fire and energy raging within . . . Letting the rage out into the open with a burst of feeling can actually limit rage by releasing it. For rage can be an act of assertion that sets limits and establishes identity by saying, "I won't take any more of this!" Confronting the suppressed rage with rage  . . . 
Ultimately this expression of rage needs to be not only forceful but formed and focused effectively as well. And this conscious awareness of one's energy and how one wants to use ti may keep women from making those original false promises that keep them helpless. In learning to relate to their rage, they may raise the level of consciousness about the unresolved cultural rage which at worst leads to war and persecution . . . When women begin to become conscious of their rage, then the responsibility extends to giving it form and shape . . . The way to get access to all that energy is to wait patiently and approach it indirectly . . . To form the raging energy, it is necessary to gain access to it in its nondestructive aspect so that one does not become possessed by it. To do this takes patience and knowledge, i.e., waiting until the right time and knowing what that is . . . Knowing what is behind the rage is very important. And this takes conscious differentiation - differentiating from the experience of the rage and differentiating the various elements of the rage. That takes sorting out what part of the rage is the unsolved anger of the father, and what belongs to the woman herself and to the situation . . . To sort out what part of the rage really belongs to you and how much is the other person's, or the unsolved rage of the parent, or even the rage of the culture is an enormous task . . . Part of the forming is being able to contain what is to be formed . . . Containing the energy and forming it means not dissipating it in formless rage but asserting it creatively. And this might happen in a political act, a work of art, raising a child, relating, and most of all in being, in the quality of one's life.
Ultimately, the transformation of rage results in a strong woman who with her creative energy and feminine wisdom can contribute to her growth of herself, others, and the culture."
~ from 'The Wounded Woman'
Today, sitting, swimming, walking, going about with the fiery energy of anger as my almost constant companion, I got plenty of opportunities to practice. There was joy from being able to be with the anger, and from knowing that I was not possessed by it. Rather, I could see very clearly my part, and that from outside circumstances. There was wisdom in deciding to focus on the personal element, and letting go of the rest. There was love in choosing to not linger in hurtful mind states. No 'poor me', no 'you bastard', no helplessness, no wishing for what I have no control over . . . Rather, the conscious decision to practice loving kindness, both for myself and the outer source of irritation. There was strength in the deliberate channeling of the energy towards positive outcomes.

Holding the rage, with great love . . .

As a woman, how do you navigate the hot waters of anger? As a man, how does your rapport with anger shape your relationships with women? 


  1. So happy to read this post today!

    I've been struggling with my own anger on and off for years! Currently I'm trying to see it from a neutral point of view and embrace the idea that within it there is wisdom rather than judging myself as a bad person for having it~!

  2. Thank you for sharing, Stacia!

    Yes, anger . . . is such a difficult emotion. I do not know anyone that's got it completely right. To understand what is behind the anger, and to connect with that source in an embodied - not just in the head - way can be very helpful.

    I like your view of seeing it as bearer of wisdom, rather than a bad thing.

    The practice of mindfulness can be helpful as it helps cultivate equanimity, and increase tolerance of all emotions. With that tolerance, comes a greater ability to not react, and to respond instead.

    This being said, I believe mindfulness alone is not enough to work with the deeper, encrusted layers of rage. This is where a psychological perspective can be of great value. Rage, particularly feminine rage, can entail both a personal and a transpersonal aspects. And it is important to understand what those are.

    I have the utmost compassion for all beings who are struggling with anger, which is pretty much the whole human race :)

    With loving kindness,