Creating Peace, part 1: Experiencing Anger without performing it.

In January I'll be focusing on self-inquiry in the creation of peace.  It's an introduction to essential questions that go to the heart of cultivating peace. This is internal work, we're going to the only place where the world changes. And oh the richness of anger!  Anger is the shadow that commands the most love and attention in my life, maybe you understand this. To paraphrase beloved poet and philosopher Mark Nepo, what wakens us matters far less than the awakening.

When I became aware of the difference between experiencing anger and acting it out I found peace.  Experience anger and stay rooted in reality, or react to it and it's theater.  I described here my Dad's volatile temper and the stories I constructed around that.  Anger has been the greatest mystery and challenge on this spiritual journey. Questioning these beliefs through inquiry has left me with a richer understanding for my Dad and myself. The vantage point of raising kids added compassion to my perspective too. Parenting has again and again been the catalyst for all the unresolved beliefs within me, exponentially more than any other relationship I've known. Please understand, much of it was against my will. When I became a parent, what scared me most was that I would become like my Dad. Whenever I behaved in a way that reminded me of that anger I experienced as a kid, I punished myself.  May blessings rain upon firstborn kiddos, ever willing to teach and learn right alongside new parents. When my son was little, I tucked him into his bouncy seat one morning and undressed to get into the shower. The Shower is the promised land for new parents, a place visited only when they're asleep and you're not, which is rare. I stepped into the tub and he started to cry. I remember screaming, "WHAT DO YOU WANT FROM ME??", which created louder crying. A deluge of shame followed. I can call up that exact feeling in my body just by thinking of it.  I was acting out of my thoughts, believing that I'd lost control of my time ( which isn't mine and I don't have), that this baby will never stop crying and I'll never figure out why (impossible, it's all phases) and I'm a bad Mother for not being endlessly patient and attentive to this precious life (Infants are precious, and they're essentially parasites and anyone who's had one of those knows you've got to intensify your self-care not neglect it) Experiencing anger is to stand solidly in the emotion as an observer, to accept it all. It's truly all phases, it all passes. I have such compassion for the Me who walked through that time in my life, doing the best I could and showering when I had the chance! We're always doing the best we can, aren't we? And the goalpost moves. To perform anger is to act out the stories that justify the experience, and it's a fight against reality. There is no Good or Bad, just awareness of what creates peace and what creates stress. Aligning with reality is the surest path to peace.