If you’ve tried to tame your temper but have been unsuccessful, the missing piece of the puzzle could be mindfulness and meditation, which are excellent for emotional control.
Most types of meditation make us more aware of our emotions, and that emotional awareness in turn gives us control.
Plus, by meditating we create changes in the brain and body, such as by activating the parasympathetic nervous system, which helps to promote calmness.
That said, some meditations are better for anger than others. So, let me show you the best ones.
7 Types of Meditation for Anger
1: Guided Meditation for Anger
- Sit comfortably.
- [OPTIONAL] Put your hands in Gyan mudra (index fingers and thumbs touching to make a ring, remaining fingers lightly stretched outwards).
- Close your eyes and breathe through your nose with your mouth lightly closed.
- Observe your breath moving through your body. Aim to take 108 breaths in total by the end of this meditation for anger relief.
- Notice how feelings of irritability and frustration pass through your mind. Observe these psychological phenomena mindfully. Don’t attach to thoughts, just notice how they come and go. Phenomenological self-observation, like this, is one of the most important parts of meditation, according to Padmasiri De Silva [An Introduction to Buddhist Psychology]. We must observe the true nature of the mind.
- Remind yourself that your feelings are normal and that they will pass. Remind yourself that even anger has a purpose. For instance, there is the Recalibration Theory of Anger. This theory states that our vexation motivates us to make changes in life. [source: American Psychological Association]. Therefore, anger can be healthy.
- After a short period of mindful breathing, you will start to feel peaceful. Notice the feeling of inner peace. Meditate on it. Remind yourself that you can recreate this emotion anytime you like.
- For even more peacefulness, read Meditation For Inner Peace.
The above meditation helps us control our temper because it teaches us about the nature of the mind. And trust me, when you understand your mind, you will find it a lot easier to control it. This is something I see time and again in my lessons. Once my students understand the true nature of the mind, they gain control over it.
For instance, one thing you will learn about the mind is that anger is usually based on ignorance.
As Tibetologist Jeffrey Hopkins states, “Ignorance is the conception or assumption that phenomena exist in a far more concrete way than they do. [This leads] the person to be drawn into afflictive desire and hatred [i.e. attachment and aversion] … Not knowing the real nature of phenomena, we are driven to generate desire for what we like and hatred for what we do not like and for what blocks our desires.”
In other words, it is our lack of understanding of the processes of the mind that causes negative emotions such as frustration, annoyance, and rage.
When we use meditate on anger, we learn about the workings of the mind and the nature of emotions. This helps us self-regulate.
2: Nine Round Breathing
- Take 108 breaths while breathing in through one nostril and out through the other. With each breath, change which nostril you are breathing in and out of.
“Nine Round Breathing” is a mindfulness practice focused on the breath. In this technique, we breathe in a way similar to “Alternate Nostril Breathing”.
The reason this is one of the best meditation techniques for frustration and similar emotions is that it calms the mind and stimulates the Parasympathetic Nervous System—the “rest and digest” system that promotes relaxation.
It is also a relatively easy method for beginners.
Mindful breathing improves emotional regulation according to the Greater Good Science Center. Your emotions and your breathing directly affect one another. When you’e mad, your breathing becomes shallow and fast.
If you are mindfully aware of these changes in breathing, you can stop and use meditative practices to calm down.
3: Meditation Music
An easy alternative is to simply listen to relaxing music.
It can be hard to meditate when you’re angry. Moodiness motivates us to act rather than to sit mindfully and observe the breath. That’s why it’s a good idea to listen to some relaxing music. Just put your headphones on and unwind.
Meditation music is specially composed in a way that calms the mind and produces inner peace, according to research from Myriam V. Thoma et. al University of Zurich. Plus, it has been proven that some musical instruments, such as Tibetan Singing Bowls, can help regulate mood swings.
Vipassana is an intermediate Buddhist meditation used for insight.
When I say insight what I really mean is an understanding of how and why emotions occur. Because, as S. N. Goenka says, “If you learn the art of observing the reality within yourself it will become so clear at the experiential level that the real reason for rage lies within and not outside”.
In other words, irritability happens inside, not outside.
Insight (Vipassana) helps us to understand the nature of irritability.
In Vipassana, we focus on the breath and label thoughts and emotions as they occur. This helps you to realise that your thoughts and feelings are simply mental phenomena. Therefore, you needn’t be affected by them. This gives you a better perspective from which you can start to work with your frustrations.
5: Loving Kindness Meditation
Another good meditation for anger management is Loving-Kindness, otherwise called “Metta Bhavana”.
Often, negative emotions are caused by our relationships with other people. If someone does something wrong, we often react badly. You might struggle to feel compassionate towards people who irritate you. Or you might simply feel a lack of love and kindness from others.
We are more likely to be happy when we feel loved and supported. Hence why Loving-Kindness helps. It is a Buddhist exercise used to cultivate feelings of love and compassion.
We use Zen meditations to focus the mind and tune-out sensory information. This helps to relieve rage because sensory information is often the cause of our unhappiness.
For instance, hearing a sound you dislike can make you feel irritated. The sensory information causes your emotional reaction.
We do Zen by sitting facing a wall with the eyes half-closed. We then cup our hands on our laps in “Cosmic Mudra” and focus on breathing. This silences the mind and relieves our vexation.
7: Mindfulness Meditation
Mindfulness trains you to accept emotions without reacting to them.
As TinyBuddha says, “When you accept things as they are, you find inner peace. And the anger stops.
There are two ways out of a problem: accept what’s happening, see the positive, and choose a peaceful state of mind; or fight against it, be miserable, and struggle against the universe.
Whether it’s a family loss, a missed opportunity, or a sudden change in your plans, being able to accept things that are out of control helps us to maintain inner peace and happiness.”
When we are mindless, we are lost in thoughts and emotions.
Mindfulness meditation helps with anger because it teaches us to focus on the present moment and to accept reality.
I recommend looking into the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction course created by Jon Kabat Zinn.
Tips for being mindful of anger
- Understand that angriness is a feeling created within your own mind. Sure, certain external events might irritate us. However, the ultimate feeling, anger, is created within us. It comes from insecurities, worries, unconscious judgments, resentment, fears, and beliefs. Recognise that you yourself are creating your emotions.
- Accept reality as it is. To do this, simply focus your mind 100% on any part of the present moment.
- Remember, you don’t have to respond to anger angrily. You can respond to anger mindfully instead. It’s not about suppressing anger either. It’s about observing the emotion mindfully.
How Meditation Helps With Anger
Many people struggle to control anger. Indeed, the Mental Health Organization Boiling Point researched the current state of emotions like anger and frustration. They found that 32% of people have a close relative or friend with anger-management issues. So clearly, anger is common. But it is also unhealthy.
According to Better Health Channel, anger can cause:
- High blood pressure
- Skin disorders
- Substance abuse.
- Eating disorders
- Digestion problems
- Immune system dysfunction
- Eating disorders
- Loss of self-esteem
Meditation reduces anger because it stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, balances cortisol, slows the heart rate and breathing rate, and enhances awareness.
Of course, meditation isn’t the only solution, there are also relaxation techniques, cognitive behavioral therapy, medications, anger management classes, and support groups. It is also worth noting that on occassion meditation might actually make you angy.
Giving Is Caring
Paul Harrison BSc is a qualified meditation teacher who believes in genuine, authentic meditation. He has more than 15 years experience in teaching meditation and mindfulness both to individuals and to corporations and is the author of four books on meditation. He has been featured in Psychology Today, Breathe Magazine, Healthline, Psych Central and Lion’s Roar.
Paul studied meditation in beautiful Oxford, UK, and Hamilton Ontario Canada, and earned his degree at Staffordshire University.
Paul’s biggest inspirations include Thich Nhat Hanh, Jon Kabat Zinn, and Jack Kornfield.
“My goal is to provide the most authentic meditation sessions so you can harness the power of your own mind for personal transformation” – Paul Harrison