Happy spring, everyone! Whether you feel a spring in your step or spring fever, there’s a natural craving to cast away the winter doldrums and soak up life during this time. Just like the plants and hibernating animals, we’re attuned to the seasons in body, mind and spirit, so it makes sense that this energy can feel a little restless and scattered.
To ease this transition period into a new season and feel more balanced, Traditional Chinese Medicine encourages us to nurture the health of the organ associated with the season. Spring is all about the liver, which most of us know for its role in detoxification. What’s not as well known is that the liver also rules anger and stress. When this organ is in a state of imbalance, you may find it difficult to manage emotional outbursts and truly ‘spring forward’ with the sense of lightness and joy you desire.
In our society, most of us never learn how to accept our anger in the first place - let alone process and release it. This month, our practitioners came together to share their personal insights on honoring anger and letting it go. We sincerely hope that you enjoy their tips, and find lightness and harmony for your best spring yet!
Beth O’Boyle (Bach Foundation Registered Practitioner, Certified Hypnosis Counselor, Reiki Practitioner, Advanced AshWork Practitioner)
~Look at it as a signal. There’s a tendency to label emotions as ‘good’ or ‘bad’. Anger is an energetic signal that arises when something is out of balance in our lives, and realizing this fact can change your perspective on anger. Instead of looking at it as a negative emotion, we can view anger as an opportunity to turn inwards, reflect on the underlying cause of what’s out of balance, and notice if there’s a proactive step to take.
For example: a person who tends to be a people=pleaser might feel anger arising when they find themselves immersed in yet another task or activity they either don’t want to do or don’t have time for. Rather than feeling angry because you always end up doing what a particular friend wants to do instead of what you’d prefer to do, you might notice what prevents you from either saying ‘no’ to her or offering an alternative option.
~Use it as momentum. Anger is great for spurring people into action. You can’t control the world - but take a moment to consider what you can do. I encourage doing something physical to get in motion and release some of the pent-up stress. Go for a run. Clean the house. (Cleaning is actually very effective. Not only will you feel better - you’ll end up with a clean house. Win win!) Sometimes anger arises in the form of another emotion such as grief, anxiety, or sadness. If you feel comfortable doing so, try sitting with the feeling without judging it. Breathe. Ask yourself what’s prompting the emotion. You might be surprised at what it has to say.
~Consider healing modalities that can help. All of our services at HHA can help you release anger in different ways. AshWork energy clearing is a great way to gently shift the energy without having to dwell in the story. The key is to approach it from the desire to solve the problem or to make a change. Reiki is helpful for facilitating the flow of stagnant or stuck energy. Anger can be a sign of feeling tapped out, as though you have nothing to draw from; Reiki can replenish energy that is depleted. Bach Flower Remedies are great for supporting balance and a new perspective. They address the underlying reasons for the anger: irritation, intolerance, worry, envy, etc. and support a shift of energy.
Noreen Haren (Registered Nurse, Certified Practitioner of the Feldenkrais Method of Somatic Education)
~Embrace movement. Movement can be a non-threatening way to address emotions. From a Feldenkrais perspective, we all unconsciously hold emotions such as anger and fear in our bodies. This can lead to unnecessary and uncomfortable restriction of movement. The Feldenkrais Method uses a series of gentle movements to help us identify areas where we may be holding tension with non-judgmental curiosity. At the end of a Feldenkrais lesson, most people notice they are breathing more fully, feel more grounded, and are moving with more ease. Personally, if I am feeling stressed or angry, the first thing I do is check in and see - am I clenching my jaw, is my breathing restricted, are my shoulders up near my ears? I notice, take a breath, and let go. It helps me feel better immediately.
Andrea Inauen (Licensed Clinical Social Worker)
~Feel it all first. We are human, and human emotions (even anger) are part of the process. It is important to acknowledge that anger happens, and can even be healthy when channeled well. It is the holding of anger for too long that is often toxic, harmful, and compromising. So, in therapy, you will often hear me talk about the importance of allowing the feeling, acknowledging it, looking at it, processing it, validating it...and then releasing it. Stifled anger tends to brew, fester, and harm self and others too. Talking about the feeling - the antecedents, emotions, and impact- allows for the anger to lose its power, to be digested, and ultimately released. You may also hear me explore what having a physical or verbal release of the anger in a healthy and safe way can look like (if we could, as adults, have that temper tantrum that kids have in a toy store, we might be better off because it is at least released!)
~Embrace vocal release. This might take the shape of vocalizing your feelings to a trusted member of your support system, or talking to yourself to give voice to what you’re feeling without inadvertently projecting it onto others. When I am struggling to let go, I acknowledge anger's weight, find ways to be gentle with myself, and sometimes also temporarily put it on a shelf or in a jar and shift focus to gratitude. I do not want to minimize the feelings, but temporarily re-focusing when I am having trouble letting go can allow the hurt to 'not take up all the space in the room' which can help achieve better release in the long run.
~Know that it’s all temporary. I am, like most humans, always learning, and that means that anger sometimes takes up more space in my life than I want. However, as intense as the feelings may be at a given time, no matter how horrid the situation or feeling, I have learned that the intensity will change over time. Acknowledging the anger, pain, and related emotions (and the patterns that accompany them) is so important because then we have the opportunity to re-center, breathe, and allow the rest of self to exist and take up space as well. And that makes room for healing, release, and growth.
Thanks so much for taking the time to read our blog. We truly hope that you find it hopeful in letting go of the tension, irritability, and anger that tends to arise during this time. As always, we’d love to hear from you in the comments section and to connect with you on Facebook.
Wishing you a wonderful, happy, and healthy spring!
Hannah Chenoweth is a Hoboken-based conference producer and freelance writer who enjoys covering all aspects of health and wellness.