On anger

Anger is something that will come up a lot on any path of healing and self development. It is specifically referenced in the Reiki precepts: Just for today, Do not anger. Well, guess what? This week, I’ve been getting angry.

I’ve talked about this before and I’ll say it again – getting angry doesn’t make you a bad Reiki person, it doesn’t make you a bad person of any kind. It just makes you angry, that’s all. Anger is a natural human emotion, and pretending you don’t feel anger, ever, because you think it’s not a spiritual thing to do is just a lie like any other lie, and it won’t move you forward on your path. This is something I know. I also know this: when you are on a path of self development, over time your anger (the things you get angry about, the way you respond to anger and the situation that made you angry) will change. 10 years ago I was angry about all sorts of things, I got angry about stuff that just doesn’t even touch my awareness these days. And I could carry that anger with me, and nurse it for the entire day, no problem. And then I could head off and do something nice and self destructive about it. Such is the pattern of impotent rage, when you feel powerless to change the situation that makes you angry.

These days, I mostly feel powerful, so as well as many things that used to make me angry seeming unimportant, the things that do make me angry can be seen as often serving a purpose. But this purpose isn’t always obvious. Sometimes, I am just angry because anger is the appropriate response to that situation. In recent memory a dear friend of mine was attacked. Yeah, I got angry, how else was I supposed to feel? I love her, and some predator attacked her. This wasn’t really anger I could use at the time, but it was still an important experience. This, for me, was a lesson in allowing. Allowing myself to be angry, feeling that emotion, knowing it, allowing the experience to happen without judging it. At the time, a friend tried to calm me, to say that being angry was wrong, thinking negative thoughts was wrong, that this predator was here to teach lessons and I must maintain a state of calm. This advice was well meaning, but it was wrong and unhelpful. Why? Because it made my very valid feelings wrong somehow, it made me wrong to have an emotional response, and judged me for it. I should know better, I am a healer and healers don’t get angry like that. Yes, we do! We are all emotional creatures, and our emotions should be honoured. It’s ok to be angry when we learn about morally indefensible torturing of animals for ‘progress’ (read: profit of corporations), when a friend is deliberately harmed by some awful damaged person, when people that we wish we could trust betray us and treat us badly. (Those are the things that make me angry, you can insert your own list here.)  In these instances, we can allow ourselves to experience the emotion, without fear or judgement, and just be honest about that. We can come to know anger, so it doesn’t have such power over us, and as we do this we make the first steps towards what Alberto Villoldo talks about in his book, ‘Illumination: The Shaman’s Way of Healing’ – letting ourselves feel an emotion so we know it so well we can experience it in its purest form, without cause, and so become more peaceful and powerful in ourselves.

Other experiences of anger are more common. It is easy when you live in the world to fall into a state of anger over the little things, no matter how well developed you think you are. Sometimes things get under our skin even though, when you really think about it, those things are not important. And here we have an anger that can easily and quickly be harnessed and used – not for some great spiritual purpose, but to see where things are not as you want them and make those changes in your life. If you can’t achieve that change in full right now, at least make the decision, put things in motion. Do it *now* and don’t let that realisation escape you, it was a gift. Honour it.

This past week or so I have been angry. Not righteous anger that shows me what is wrong in the wider world. Not anger that lets me know myself and create peaceful energy in the world to ultimately play my part in raising the vibration and dreaming a better dream of the world into being. I’ve been aggravated, annoyed, petulant, stompy, ranty, wound up. As my boyfriend so innocently put it yesterday, ‘isn’t PMT only supposed to last a couple of days? You seem to have had it for quite a long time…’

Abraham-Hicks, in the law of attraction, talk about emotions as an inner navigation system. Be grateful that you feel crappy right now, because it is teaching you something, it is telling you that you have strayed from your path and giving you the opportunity to put that right. So, let’s review some of my anger in recent days.

I’m doing a part time temp job at the moment, in an office. I find the work to be entirely unimportant, and yesterday I copped an earful (via email, luckily for the person involved) about something that I had already offered explanations and apologies for, that wasn’t in any way my fault, couldn’t be changed due to my unfortunate lack of time machine, and really wasn’t important anyway – it was more about this person making themselves feel important. Ooh, it wound me up! Why? It’s not important, it doesn’t matter… and there it is. I detest doing work that doesn’t matter to me, that I don’t care about, that is all jumped up bureaucracy and a vehicle for people to pretend they are important when in fact they are contributing nothing to the betterment of this world. Message: Kay, why are you here? If you shift your focus you can go back to full time self employment by the end of May, you just need to trust. Just trust. Why, thank you Mr Anger for that timely message of support!

Here’s another one. I live in a block of flats, my next door neighbours are the kind you don’t want to live next door to. They shout and holler at each other constantly (the best rows are first thing in the morning, next to my bedroom, next to my head), then have very loud make up sex a couple of hours later (again, right next to me) and this is how they choose to maintain their relationship. They smoke so much dope and the hall reeks of it, they have loud TV and noisy friends over, they have kids who are noisy and frustrated by being in that house and not being allowed to go run outside… they’re just noisy. This is the way of things, when you live in a block of flats, you will hear other people, and sometimes your neighbours will be inconsiderate noisy people. But I was doing a little bit of drumming, in the middle of the day, for some healing for a friend, and they had the nerve to bang on my wall. What? After what I have to listen to? I throw no big parties, have no TV, no arguments, no shouting, no loud music, all you get is a bit of chanting and some drumming, never for long periods of time and never in antisocial hours, and YOU dare to bang on my wall? Are you kidding me?? Anger. Well, I’ve moved my flat around, so I don’t sleep in that room anymore, and this helps. But also, it makes me aware that my needs as a person have changed. I love my flat, and I love living in Crystal Palace, but I am not built for close quarters living any more. My time living in London is drawing to a close and now I know and accept that, I can begin to manifest the space that I need in order to be healthy and happy.

So why so many lovely lessons for me right now? Well, at the moment I am doing a project called ‘The Artist’s Way’. It’s a book by Julia Cameron and is essentially a 12 week programme designed to unblock your creativity and improve your life as a creative person. I understand that, at the beginning of week 3, I am unblocking a lot of old things that do not nurture me as a creative soul, and this is why the anger is bubbling up. Anyone on a healing and self development path, whichever form it takes, will go through this at some point. It is part of the healing process, part of the cleansing, part of the step towards fully realising your potential. Here’s what Julia Cameron has to say about anger in week 3:

When we feel anger, we are often very angry that we feel anger. Damn anger!! It tells us that we can’t get away with our old life any longer. It tells us that old life is dying. It tells us we are being reborn, and birthing hurts. The hurt makes us angry.
Anger is the firestorm that signals the death of our old life. Anger is the fuel that propels us into our new one. Anger is a tool, not a master. Anger is meant to be tapped into and drawn upon. Used properly, anger is use-full.
Sloth, apathy, and despair are the enemy. Anger is not. Anger is our friend. Not a nice friend. Not a gentle friend. But a very, very loyal friend. It will always tell us when we have been betrayed. It will always tell us when we have betrayed ourselves. It will always tell us that it is time to act in our own best interests.
Anger is not the action itself. It is action’s invitation.

I invite you to take a fresh perspective on anger. On a spiritual path it is so easy to judge it, to dismiss it, to repress it. Not today. I would venture a more in depth interpretation of that Reiki precept: Just for today, do not be enslaved by anger. If you feel it, embrace it, be grateful for it. And for God’s sake, please use it.

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Kay Gillard is one of the Reiki Evolution team of teachers, based in South East London. She is also a shamanic practitioner, and often combines her Reiki work with her shamanic practice, such as in the Reiki Drum course offered through Reiki Evolution. As well as teaching healing work Kay is an author, blogger and broadcaster with a radio show on Radio Lightworker.

You can follow Kay’s personal blog and learn about her work at www.kaygillard.com or visit www.starfirealchemy.co.uk for information on her shamanic work and events.

6 thoughts on “On anger

  1. Thank you Kay, for excellent timing and for the Villoldo link. I’m doing some Shamanic healing work for very negative experiences I had as a very small child. As an adult I feel compassion & understanding for the person who put me in that position so thus far attempts to express the anger as or on behalf of the child have failed. Sometimes empathy is less than helpful! It’s the first time ever I have experienced a block inmy Shamanic work. We are having a natural break as my teacher says I will know when it’s time to continue.

    “Just for today, do not be enslaved by anger. If you feel it, embrace it, be grateful for it. And for God’s sake, please use it.” will certainly be taken along with me to that session.

  2. Hi Lesley

    Thanks for the feedback, glad you are honouring the need for a natural break. In your journeying work, you may want to approach your inner child in the way that therapists work with children in this reality – letting the child express the anger in a way that is comfortable for them in a safe space. Have you considered sitting with your child in a journey and letting her draw you a picture or something that will allow her to express herself?
    It’s my unsolicited idea for the day! Good luck on your journey x

  3. I have always understood the two precepts – do not anger, do not worry – in two directions: do not get angry, do not make angry; do not be worried, do not cause worry.

    Those always help me.

  4. For me, the ‘do not anger’ precept is more about existing in a state where you don’t feel the need to get angry so often, rather than suppressing your anger, which isn’t a very healthy thing to do at all! If you’re learning to be in a mindful state during your daily activities then you’re in a state where you can be free from anger and worry, just fully engaged in whatever you’re doing. If you’re fully absorbed in the moment, it’s difficult to find anger IMO. And it’s about having a different perspective, too, questioning yourself: “is this really worth getting worried about? in a year’s time am I even going to remember this occasion?”. Asking questions like, “what’s good about this? what can I learn from this?” can also shift your point of reference towards the positive.

  5. I could have written the first sentences!! Lately I have been getting angry. Now instead of chiding myself for failure I can look at it as a teacher. What do I have to shed? What can I learn. very nice article thank you

  6. Thanks for the advice Kay. I think I’ll journey to meet my inner child before the work I need to do with my Shamanic teacher. She did pop up at a journey we did in our circle last week so I know I’m on the right track! I spoke to my teacher about what I’d read on your blog and he thought your interpretation of the Reiki precept was excellent.


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