Thursday, January 16, 2014

Simmer Down Before You're the Party Drunk...(again)

I broke the rule last night. You know that cardinal rule ‘Never go to bed angry.’ Well I did, and I am completely exhausted this morning! Not because I was up all night stewing but because my mind was active all night being angry. I had dreams about receiving terrible service and dealing with rude people. I dreamt about being in grocery store line-ups and firing the cable company. I was yelling at people in my dreams and giving everyone I encountered a piece of my mind, my very very angry mind. I woke up this morning more angry than I went to bed and very grateful that I don’t break the cardinal rule very often.

It took a little while after wiping the sleep from my eyes and finishing my first cup of coffee to restore my demeanour. It was almost lunch and I was almost okay when I opened my latest library find and the universe hit me with Chapter 3; square in the eyes!  ‘The Other Side of the Fence – a case against aggression’

It’s a bizarre love/hate thing I have with the universe when this sort of thing happens. Kind of like when you know your Mother is right.

The book is Light Comes Through by: Dzigar Kongtrul  - overall impression heading into Chapter 4…. A fantastic must read for anyone looking to improve their world from the inside out.

So….the Universe says this to me via selected passages for Chapter 3….

You are at a party and there are beautiful people, surroundings, and laughter. The music is good too. Suddenly someone gets angry and throws a glass of champagne. It ruins the whole show –even the dog leaves the room. When someone gets angry, it effects the whole environment like an unpleasant odour that everyone has to smell. And, as our mental states are often quite fragile, it disturbs people’s minds. But it disturbs the person who gets angry more than anyone else.

I am the drunken guy at the party. With one exception; I would never toss away perfectly good champagne just to make a point.

When we get angry, we lose the dignity of our intelligence.

I am a sloppy drunk.

…anger gives the illusion of clarity. A certain strength arises when we have an opinion and we know where we stand.

I am a sloppy drunk who is 10 feet tall and bullet-proof!

…we throw in the towel and say, “I can’t take it any more—I’ve had it!” Anger seems reasonable when we feel threatened. As it’s said, “anger comes in the guise of a friend”—righteous and protective airtight logic. Someone or something else is always responsible.

I am the 10 foot tall sloppy bullet proof drunk who is leaving your dumb ass at the party and walking home with my new BFF. “f-you….I know the way”

Fortunately, Chapter 3, beyond doing an exceptional job of illustrating my anger and frustration as a drunken uncle, also provided a practicable solution.


Normally we have so little control over our emotions—and we feel our vulnerability as a tight knot in our chest. People talk about needing armour, particularly around their chests, to protect themselves when they go to war. Even bugs have shells to protect themselves. But no physical armour can protect us from what disturbs us inside.

And we do, have to, ‘go inside’ because the answers to anger, frustration and aggression, just like the answers to purpose, needs and desires are always with us. Not found in our environment or the company we keep. They are found in the quiet space of learning about ourselves, of listening to our own thoughts about ourselves our feelings and our fears. Answers are found in accepting and taking responsibility for our own weaknesses, faults and short comings, in getting real with where we need to grow.

One more question is answered inside this space as well; “how bad do I want it, to move away from this place of non-peace?” THAT is a really good question; a hard question to answer honestly. Drama, for many is the fix that keeps life ticking. And just like an overeater needs cake, a drinker needs a drink and a smoker needs a smoke; angry people need the drama of aggression and conflict, even when it accomplishes nothing—Even when it amplifies pain, hurt and animosity.

Anger and conflict serve no purpose, create no end, and accomplish nothing beyond destroying futures of happiness.

Simmer…. (and I will learn this through practice and patience)

When we decide to practice non-violence, we make a deliberate choice to simmer with our aggression. Simmering doesn’t mean you boil in your aggression like a piece of meat cooking in a soup. It means you refuse to give in to anger because you know the result of aggression and you want to experience the confidence that comes from patience. So you let yourself feel how strong the tendency is, without rejecting it or giving in to it.

So following this advice from Chapter 3 (which, by the way Universe, would have been much better to read last night before the disrupted sleep) I would have done myself a greater service to acknowledge that I was angry and spend time uncovering the reason in me why. What past nerve got touched? Which old wound, fear or anxiety did the light shine on? What part of me do I need to heal so that I am beyond the reach of something outside of me, somebody else’s actions, opinions or behaviour?  

Can this Simmer Practice really preserve my inner peace in times of turmoil? I’m worth finding out.

So I spent some time simmering – even though the intense anger phase was past. I found out a few things about myself. A couple I’m not really proud of and one that frightens me to the core.

Then I made an apology.

I think I might sleep better tonight.