Frequent anger has become an integral part of our stress-filled modern world. Research has shown that frequent anger, whether expressed outwardly to others or only inwardly to ourselves, can have a negative impact on our physical, emotional, and spiritual health and well-being. Those of us who experience frequent anger often find ourselves dwelling incessantly on it and justifying it inwardly or else expressing it outwardly, often in strong emotional outbursts. However vital and important it might seem at the moment, the end result of our anger is often a racing heartbeat, increased blood pressure, and a depletion of our energy.

It is possible, however, to begin to free ourselves from our anger and to lessen its impact on us through a combination of special awareness and breathing practices. The next time you notice that you’re angry, for instance, instead of either dwelling on it inwardly or expressing it outwardly, simply “listen” to your anger as it manifests at that moment throughout your body. Sense how it feels. Notice the posture you’re in and any tensions or constrictions in your breathing. Take a deep impression, a kind of internal snapshot, of what your anger is doing to your body, as well as of the underlying thoughts and feelings that are fueling the anger. This can all be done instantaneously, in a moment of inner sincerity and awareness.

Now, without trying to hide from what you are experiencing, simply count to yourself at a steady pace the length of your inhalation and then the length of your exhalation. Then, for your next 10 breaths, inhale to the same count but double the count of the exhalation. So, for example, if you found that your inhalation lasted four counts and your exhalation three, count to four for your next 10 breaths as you inhale, and to six as you exhale. After 10 breaths, take another deep impression of yourself at that moment. Include your body, emotions, and breathing. See how your need to express your anger either to yourself or others has changed. Are you still as angry as you were?

It’s important when trying this exercise to remember that you will have a tendency to say to yourself “I’m too angry to do this exercise right now.” Or you might even say, “But I’ve got to say something to this person right now. I can’t just let them get away with this.” If you hear yourself making such statements to yourself, take a moment to look at yourself as if from the outside. If you can really see yourself impartially at that moment, you will experience what your anger is doing to you, and you will want to try the exercise immediately. Do the exercise whenever you’re angry and you will begin not only to notice your anger much earlier, but you will also find yourself able to let go of it much sooner.

© Authentic Breathing Resources