How Meditation Dissolves Anger, Frustration, & Stress
The Ultimate Guide To Mastering Anger
We all know it. We have all felt it. Anger. For those of us with anger issues, our health, our work, our relationships, and our whole quality of life are under the thumb of one supreme ruler.
Luckily meditation remedies the mental, emotional, and physiological factors underlying anger. We discuss a few of them here.
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Meditation & The Physiology Of Anger: Prefrontal Cortex
Hacking Anger. No longer are we cavemen. We have evolved. Other than being taller and less hairy, what's the biggest difference, the clearest dividing line between ancient man and modern man? The brain. And if we had to choose one region specifically, the clear winner would be our thought orchestrating, higher level thinking "prefrontal cortex." That's the biggest difference.
We've always been taught that certain things can't be changed. You can't move a mountain. You can't drain the ocean. You can't change your brain.
But science has proven otherwise. You CAN change your brain... through the power of "Neuroplasticity!" If you want to be a smarter, happier, and healthier person, then finding a way to train the "Einstein-like" prefrontal cortex is critical. Luckily, meditation is evolution’s secret cheat code, the very best way to catapult your brain into the future. One where anger is obsolete.
A landmark 2005 study by Harvard neuroscientist Dr. Sara Lazar found that meditators' prefrontal cortexes had an incredible amount of what scientist call "thickness," "folds," and overall "surface area." You know how pushups build up your chest, triceps, and shoulders? Meditation does the same for your brain.
Evolving Beyond Anger. Moreover, the study found that the participants' measurables for higher level thinking, raw intelligence (IQ), emotional well-being, psychological balance, and happiness were off the charts. Kind of hard to be angry when so many things are going your way? Above and beyond, the implications of this finding are immense, reaching far and wide.
you will be punished by your anger." — Buddha
The Physiology Of Anger: Fight Or Flight Mode
From Ancient To Modern. With "caveman" on the nightly dinner menu, our ancestors often went face to face with hungry lions, tigers, and bears.
Back then, if we failed to show proper aggression, be it using our weapon, screaming at the top of our lungs, looking real mean and scary, throwing rocks, or whatever else our ancient neanderthal brethren did to ward off enemies — then we could quickly find ourselves on the wrong end of a Thanksgiving feast.
Obviously, a certain amount of anger was essential to our ancestors' everyday survival. The problem is, in this day and age, we no longer face life or death situations. Yet, we are still wired much like cavemen.
We Aren't Cavemen Anymore. Modern man doesn’t really need his fear center activated at the drop of a pin. We don’t need noradrenaline stress hormones pumping through our veins because this month’s electricity bill is twice what it should be. Our jobs, relationship problems, and money struggles shouldn't evoke flight or flight biochemical reactions. Nor should we be lashing out at our friends, family, and colleagues like they're a pack of prehistoric sabertooths.
Luckily, by supercharging our futuristic "prefrontal cortex" and dramatically reducing our "fight or flight" stress hormones (like cortisol), meditation provides a kind of "instant evolution" to our "anger-prone" caveman physiology.
How To Control Anger: Perspective
"My flight is cancelled. This is the worst case scenario. Absolutely terrible. Why do bad things always seem to happen to me?"
The Sky Is Falling. Some people with anger issues are masters at being overly dramatic, blowing things out of proportion, exaggerating the mundane, while sweating the little things. Luckily, meditation gives us a much broader perspective.
Resistance Makes The Mind Grow. Like an Olympic hurdler, learning to overcome life's obstacles forces us to grow. The most successful people are those that learn to navigate turbulent waters — coming from rough neighborhoods, dysfunctional families, disadvantaged backgrounds, you name it. When channeled intelligently, the darkness you face only brightens your future.
When getting angry, jaded, or quitting is not an option, you start to believe. Belief in whatever you are doing unlocks the power of your subconscious mind — which then guides you to your goal via intuition. Keeping a clear meditative mindset will help you find the greatness within (and the anger without).
Meditation & The Physiology Of Anger: Amygdala & Cortisol
Quieting The Caveman Brain. Contained within the temporal lobes of the brain are two almond shaped groups of nuclei called the "amygdala." Serving as the brain's "fear center," overactivity within this region increases our likelihood of having an anger disorder 100 fold. Luckily, you don't have to succomb to the impending doom that the human mind so often generates.
A Harvard University study brain scanned freshly minted meditators before and after an 8 week mindfulness class. What did they find? Amazingly, the meditators "fear center" amygdalae were far less active, sending almost no "distress signals" to the rest of the brain. Meditation had effectively forced the brain to upgrade its long outdated "caveman software," while cooling off the often overheated temper-tantrum-linked hardware.
Excess cortisol in our system can lead to a slew of problems: brain-fog, tissue break-down, good hormone blockage, insomnia, anxiety, depression — we can go on. Too much cortisol is clearly bad news, double that for people battling anger issues.
What if there was a way to reduce this nasty hormone? You can! A Rutgers University study found that, after practicing for only a couple of weeks, meditation dramatically reduced (by more than 50%!) the body's main stress hormone "cortisol." What does this mean? By "squeezing out" our body's main anger biochemical, meditation directly impacts how we think, feel, and react in every situation. The result? No more angry outbursts.
In the end, quicker than a light switch, meditation's brain & biochemical transformations put to bed our "caveman within." In turn, we become a far happier person, while staying cool, calm, and collected even if the world around us is in total chaos. Anger begone.
How To Control Anger: Increase Your Emotional Intelligence
Decades ago, most agreed that it was raw intelligence (IQ) that predicted whether or not we ultimately became successful in our respective field of work.
EQ Instead Of IQ. Got a perfect SAT score? You'll become a CEO. You can memorize 1000 digits of Pi? Get promoted to University Chancellor. Solve a rubix cube in 10 seconds? Your name is etched on the NASA Administrator’s door. Does this happen in the real world? No.
Today, we know better. It's not the egg-heads that make it to the top of their fields. How high we can reach and how far we can go in the world has a much more accurate indicator. It's Emotional intelligence (EQ) — as scientists have shown again and again. And meditators have EQ in oodles. But before we get to that, what kind of characteristics do high EQ folks display?
Characteristics Of Emotional Intelligence. People with advanced emotional intelligence have mastered both work and play. They tend to have prosperous careers, lots of friends, and highly fulfilling relationships. They are very often generous, motivated, empathic, with the capacity and willingness to love and be loved.
And they are not angry. Think of the most successful people that you know. How many of them would you define as being prone to anger? High emotional intelligence and anger have an inversely proportional relationship. More EQ equals less anger. Very simple.
Building EQ Through Meditation. Luckily, your emotional intelligence is not set in stone. Like doing curls to strengthen your biceps, there are certain things you can do to build up your EQ. Perhaps the very best way of all? Meditation.
From targeting the very brain region (temporoparietal junction) associated with high EQ, to increasing your self understanding and awareness, to melting away years of layered anxiety & depression, to becoming in tune with reading people's vibes, facial expressions, and body language — meditation is the very best way to fill your EQ to the brim (while emptying out the anger).
How To Control Anger: Making The Impossible, Possible
When life throws you an anger-inducing unhittable curveball, meditation can help in two main ways:
#1 — Meditation Helps You Handle The Impossible. First, if the solution is undefined or doesn’t exist, then meditation will make you far more emotionally balanced to properly deal with it.
For example, on your drive home, you get blindsided by a drunk driver. You survive, but the doctor couldn't save your left leg, below the knee. Barring some kind of scifi limb generating technology, being physically whole again ain't gonna happen.
You could play the victim. After all, you are the victim! You could become bitter, jaded, hate your life. People have given up for a lot less, that's for sure. Your anger could spiral out of control, making you a shell of your former self.
Going Above & Beyond. Or, you could raise your consciousness. Instead of piling up more and more frustration, day after day, you could reset it in meditation. You can roll back the odometer on your anxiety, depression, and frustration, whenever you wish.
Instead of living your life in the mental gutter, you could transcend the experience. You could use it as a springboard to go higher and further than you ever dreamed possible.
A new career helping amputees maybe? Perhaps leverage that insurance settlement money into a passionate business venture? Go back to school? Maybe get into counseling or therapy? After all, who has more street-cred than the one-legged happy guy?
The point is that meditation puts your level of thought above anger, even for people going through highly traumatic experiences. There are a million ways to overcome just about anything, perhaps even inspiring others along the way. Meditation unlocks this high level mindset.
#2 — Meditation Helps You In Solving The Possible. Second, if the hurdle blocking your path can somehow be overcome, then meditation will arm you with the mental toolkit to do so.
For example, your lazy coworker, who just so happens to be engaged to the CEO's daughter — just got promoted to the job you have slaved toward over the last 7 years.
You could get angry and frustrated, put in your resignation, throw a stapler at your boss, maybe go postal. While you may not act on these thoughts, it's certainly normal to be angry in a situation like this.
They say that great athletes' brainwaves drop into a calm "alpha" state" when under pressure. For example, kicking a game tying field goal, shooting a late fourth quarter free throw, putting on the 18th green to win a golf tournament — you get the idea. Guess what? Meditation does the same thing!
Mind Is The Builder. Like an athlete, you could harness the power of meditation to attain (and maintain) your mental and emotional zero point — while digging deep within for creative solutions.
Maybe it's time to start your own business? Become a consultant? Start fresh in a new city? Maybe try cooking or writing? Teach yourself to code? Start a vlog? Sublet your apartment while regathering in a cheap Mexican beach town?
The point is that a calm, clear mind generates creative solutions. Meditation is the best way to tap into that endless reserve of inner wisdom. Anger not only clouds the mind, but spirals further and further until you find yourself living a bitter, unhappy life.
All Solutions Reside In The Mind. Have you heard of the term "shower thoughts?" Great thinkers often report that, like bolts of divine inspiration, their best stuff strikes them when they least expect it.
When Albert Einstein was working on the modern theory of relativity, he had a routine for accessing his deep mind. He would lay down in a trance-like state, waiting for subconscious ideas to surface — recording them on paper upon waking (sounds like he was a meditator).
Meditation's simmering of the deep mind can cook up all kinds of wonderfully creative solutions that a clouded, frustrated hot-headed mind simply cannot. In situations that would otherwise have you pulling your hair out, sometimes a bit of subconscious cerebration is necessary to find a proper solution.
Subconscious Exploration. Serving as your mental "Magellan," meditation circumnavigates the depths of your mind, locating hard-to-find solutions, while easily weathering any anger-causing storm on the horizon.
Who's more likely to find the cure to cancer? The frustrated scientist, banging his head against the wall, hating himself and his life? Or the scientist who stills, quiets, and disciplines his mind through a half-hour of daily meditation? Who's going to be at the proper level of consciousness for such divine thinking? Who's going to be a more well-tuned conduit for receiving such quantum information? The secrets to the universe are contained within.
Causes Of Anger: When We Lack Control
Here are a couple different ways people use anger to their real world advantage:
Feeling Powerless. Anger is often used as a go-to power grabbing strategy when we feel like we lack control of a particular situation. Because it works, it can also be quite addictive. Yelling at the supermarket store clerk for not honoring last week’s milk coupon is a good example.
Meditation shifts consciousness in a way that helps us see more clearly (especially when our emotions are heated). If our flight gets delayed three hours, will yelling at the desk attendant change anything? When we distance ourself from our (often irrational) conscious mind, meditation helps us see through anger's illusion of control, resulting in us lashing out far less (if at all).
Finding Solutions & Keeping Cool. If you find yourself in what appears to be a "no way out" situation, keeping a calm, clear head will open doors that you wouldn't have otherwise seen. Anger only clouds the mind and crimps clear thought.
When controlling a situation is impossible, a regular meditation practice will help you diffuse the fear, become cool with the uncertainty, and melt the anxiety long before they approach a boiling point.
Angry outbursts can be compared to an emotional time bomb. The advanced emotional recognition and mindfulness learned through meditation ensures the green wire gets clipped first, then the black, then the yellow. Always in the correct order, no matter the situation.
Causes Of Anger: Controlling Other People
Abuse Of Power. A smaller percentage of people who feel small and insecure weaponize anger to feel bigger than everyone else, using power trips and false machismo to make up for their shortcomings. An abusive boss who finds a little too much pleasure in controlling his employees would be a prime example.
In this case, the problem is a bit more clear. When you see everyone as "separate from you," as competition, as disposable tools waiting to be "used," then you are certain to have anger and control issues. It's par for the course. Luckily, meditation uproots this problem.
We Are All One. Black or white, rich or poor, religious or atheist, republican or democrat, meditation deepens our understanding into the universal truth that we humans are far more alike than we are different, we all have the same basic needs, wants, and motivations — health, love, purpose, and happiness.
When you start seeing people as "other forms of you," and really that, in the grand scheme of things "we are all one," the idea of controlling other people to your benefit seems absurd. In this way, meditation makes you far less selfish, and far more of a giving person.
Raise your consciousness. Shift your polarity. Discover meditation.
Why We Become Angry: Dealing With The Monkey Mind
The Inner Critic. Many people with anger issues have a very loud and very negatively polarized "inner critic." So loud, in fact, that it drowns out the "true us" — our intuition. "I never remember anything... I'm not good enough for that job... I can’t do this... I can’t do that... Everyone is always out to get me..." This inner critic really likes to paint pictures of everything as being good or bad.
Capping Your Potential. When we listen to our inner critic instead of our intuition, we become prone to self-sabotage, squandering one growth opportunity after another, closing one door after another. We can find ourselves becoming highly defensive, closed off to feedback, unwilling to course correct no matter how off track we are. The captain who fails to heed the expertise and advice of his crew is sure to run the ship aground. Luckily, meditation fixes all of the above!
How To Control Anger: Stilling the Mind
Mind Chatter Cease & Desist. By quieting the human mind's 50,000+ thoughts per day, meditation mutes the so called "inner critic" while, from negative to positive, transforming our inner dialogue.
The meditative mind has learned to not place "good" or "bad" labels on thoughts, and instead, simply observing and witnessing them from a distance. In turn, "thought resistance" goes to the wayside, defusing the spiral of emotions which so often precedes angry outbursts.
By putting to bed useless, fear-based thinking, meditation extinguishes our "not having enough, not being enough, and not doing enough" inner monologue.
How To Control Anger: The Positive Mindset
Unplanting The Seeds Of Anger. People who succeed in their respective field often attribute it to their positive mindset. It should come as no surprise, then, that many highly successful people meditate.
It's the big picture mindset and the view from the "top of the mountain" that transforms how meditators deal with their thoughts / master their inner monologue. The seeds of anger: feelings of inadequacy, powerlessness, and helplessness — get replaced with confidence, self-belief, and a positive mindset.
Meditation empowers your thinking on every level. Your mind will be calm and rational, your thoughts will be clear and creative, your consciousness will be clean and pure. How high can you go? How far can you reach? You never know until you practice meditation. At the very least, melting away our "inner angry" has massive upside.