Ever been stuck in a churning loop of angry thought? A never-ending tape replays in your mind, reliving what the other person said, how it wounded you, what you wish you’d responded, how justified you were, how unfair/wrong/deceptive (you choose) the other is? Oh yeah… and maybe just a teeny bit of fantasizing about delicious revenge?
I have. And I don’t like what my anger does to me. It steals my sleep, distracts me when I need to concentrate, and generally makes me miserable. I feel stuck.
This is what Eckhart Tolle describes when he says, “Our problem is we think too much.”
He says the solution is training oneself to be “in the present moment.” But how?
Jill Bolte Taylor, a Harvard-trained neurologist, was only 38 years old when she suffered a massive stroke that, for a while, obliterated the left globe of her brain. Even though she realized what was happening as she lost the power of speech and linear thought, she felt tranquil and embraced by love.
In My Stroke of Insight Jill describes how these cognitive loops from her left brain used to take her prisoner, and she discovered how to “step to the right” hemisphere, where inner peace, compassion, and a feeling of deep connection with all life (and mystical and religious experience) seem to reside. After her stroke, she learned she could consciously move from one hemisphere to the other.
Here are some of her practical tips to “step to the right”:
Breathe deeply. Watch your belly inflate. Hold the breath. Exhale. Do it again.
Move: Stretch, exercise, dance, do yoga or tai chi. Run up and down the stairs. (When we’re into our bodies we’re not stuck in our minds.)
Sing, play music, listen to music that soothes your spirit.
Get lost in the arts. Rilke’s poetry does it for me. Spend some time in an art gallery.
Walk in the rain, feel the breeze, climb a hill and throw your arms wide to the sky.
Pray, meditate, worship, say a mantra
Use your senses: take a hot bath, get a massage, taste something new and wonderful. Hug someone you love.
Jill also suggests we deliberately focus on appreciation and gratitude for life. I keep a “gratitude journal,” and every day I give thanks for what is and consciously affirm the “not yet” by envisioning what I long for and sending positive energy into the universe.
Please share your own tips for breaking the anger loop and moving toward compassion and peace.