How to Successfully Navigate Your Temper in the Present Moment.
Both these expressions are attributed to Thích Nhat Hạnh, a Vietnamese Buddhist Monk, poet, spiritual leader, teacher, and peace activist who helped restore bombed out villages in his native Vietnam during the war.
Even the media loves him.
They have referred to him as: “The Father of Mindfulness,” The Other Dali Lama,” and “The Zen Master Who Fills Stadiums.”
His teaching on mindfulness are famous because they are simple and can transform lives. Simple does not mean easy, but it does mean accessible. And it can bring inner peace, which is why he fills stadiums
The tool to inner peace is mindfulness and the tool to mindfulness is your breath.
“Breathing in, I know I am breathing in.
Breathing out, I know I am breathing out.”
And all it takes is one breath.
Breath is again a simple, but powerful tool and it is something we always have with us. In times of stress or anger, breath can bring you back to a place of mindfulness and control.
Mindfulness is the practice of being fully present where ever you are. It is an awareness of what’s going on around you and within you. It’s an act of conscious observation.
Mindfulness, is putting down the phone to talk to the person sitting in front of you. It is observing your surroundings as you walk down the street.
It is being totally immersed in that cup of coffee you’ve been brewing. Smelling it, enjoying the steam rising out of the rich dark liquid, and finally taking that first sip as if it’s the best thing you’ve ever had.
Your breath can help you keep your cool or help you to at least cool down a bit. Keeping my cool has been a challenge for me my entire life. And sometimes I don’t have a lot of cool.
Sometimes I just want to scream and I am not speaking figuratively. I want to bring forth the wrath of God in words that will live on in infamy for as long as the ten commandments.
I feel the heat rising up in my belly and I just don’t know what I’m going to do with it. And it’s hard.
Ask anyone who has known me for years and they will confirm that the scene in Happy Gilmore, starring Adam Sandler, where he pounds the golf course with his golf club, is not unique. I created that scene, personally, on a mountain in New Hampshire while my father was teaching me to ski. Ski poles can really take a beating.
I was quite a bit younger than Happy, however.
I don’t hold myself up as an example. I am a work in progress, still. It’s the same for a lot of us.
Yes, the breath works.
Yes, it has made me think twice.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t always keep me from feeling the need to explode to begin with. It’s called having a temper, not violent, but volatile. But my breath has kept me from acting out on several occasions. And I do get less angry these days.
Here’s what I do to temper my temper.
Tempering Your Temper
As with anything else, tempering your temper takes practice. Years of it. Begin with the simplest step.
Do this before you do anything else. Listen to and feel the breathe filling your lungs, spreading your ribs. Close your eyes, if you can. One or two breaths will douse the flames to a manageable degree in a short time.
2/ Drink Water
Do this in addition to your breath work. It will buy you time and we know what putting water on a fire does.
Take a sip. Stir the ashes. Envision the smoke.
3/ Sit with the feeling
After you breathe, you may still feel like you need to do something, when in fact, there’s nothing you can do. It’s an uncomfortable place and it makes me feel groundless. Why?
I don’t know, so I just sit there with the feeling. I recognize that the feeling is not who I am. It is what I am feeling. A separate emotion.
4/ Love Your Anger
Building on the previous step, give your anger a big hug. Like a mother comforting an angry child. It feels good.
Do numbers one to four anytime you feel it coming on.
Over time, these steps will become a habit. Be patient with yourself and wait for the change.
It will happen.