The Meditative Route (My New Reaction to Anger)
by Tommy “Dread” M, prisoner
When I heard my mom died it was the hardest thing. At first I couldn’t even exercise. In the first few days I kept thinking “I wish I had a girl to hold on to.” I needed consolation. Also I kept thinking “I wish I could just jog. Just go for a long run—running gives me such peaceful feelings.” But I couldn’t do that since I’m in lock-up. Another thing I wished for was a dog. Some- times they are better than people. But of course there’s no girls or dogs in here and I can’t go running. But also since receiving the news that my mom died, I haven’t missed a single morning of meditation. I distinctly remember that morning—I woke up knowing I HAD to meditate. I knew I had to immediately get a grip on myself. My sitting became a lot more personal that day. A few days after receiving that horrible news, someone sent me the book “Breathe, You Are Alive!” by Thich Nhat Hahn. TNH breaks the sutra down real good and gives instruction that has really helped me in my practice. I need that.
Beleive me when I tell you I’ve evolved over the last six years when you met me. I’ve been having such good results from going the Buddhist route of not “venting” when I’m angry. I now try to bring awareness to my feelings, the ebb and flow of them. I also exercise and do a little yoga, but I don’t try to “let it out” anymore by punching things like I used to. If anything, when I used to do that I think now that I was just conditioning myself to deal with anger by being violent and before you know it—just hitting a pillow or a punching bag just wouldn’t cut it and I’d need to hit a person.
More than ever now, I really am trying to apply the meditative route and more than ever, I’m seeing progress. I’m still hurting a lot inside, I still get very angry but now I truly see the futility of letting those feelings dominate me and manifest in my thoughts, views, actions, and day-to-day decisions.
There is something I’ve been trying to accomplish for awhile, and you know how sometimes in life you finally turn a corner? Well, I can wholeheartedly say that I’ve turned that corner and now realize that although I might have pain and anger, and although I know I’ll probably go through a lot of rough times in my life (like everyone)—I’ve finally decided that I will not become a bitter, angry, miserable person. I’m just not going to do it.
It is becoming clearer to me that it comes down to the day to day decisions and that I can realistically look at each situation (and here’s the hard part…) and DEAL WITH IT inside. I realize now that it’s my attitude that counts.
Ok, I realize it’s a lot more complex than my “Dr. Phil-ish” way of explaining it—but it is the truth. I’m not going to let feelings of anger and bitterness dominate my life. Period.
cartoon by Jesse Lefkowitz