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Mindful : October 2017
Am I Doing This Right? Here’s the latest installment in our ongoing series of helpful answers to common meditator questions. Steven Hickman is a clinical psychologist and executive director of both the University of California, San Diego Center for Mindfulness and the nonprofit Center for Mindful Self- Compassion. Lately when I meditate, I find I’m uncovering deep anger. It’s uncom- fortable. I’m not finding relaxation or peace. What should I do? There are two parts to your question. The first one is how to work with anger when it arises in meditation and the second is more of an assumption that may need clarifying. The challenge (and it is a huge chal- lenge sometimes) is to see if we can be curious about the anger, to stay with it and see how it manifests—how it rises and falls, ebbs and flows in us as we stay aware of it. Admittedly, there may be pain involved, and that might call for some degree of kindness or self-compassion. Maybe placing a hand on your heart or in some other soothing place, feeling the warmth and kindness in the touch, and treat- ing yourself the way you would treat a good friend. Maybe comforting or soothing yourself, saying a kind word to yourself like “Ouch! This is tough!” or just naming it “Ah! Anger is here. I’m feeling anger.” Oftentimes just assigning a label to feelings mellows the impact on the mind and the body. As to not finding relaxation or peace, remember that song “I Never Promised You a Rose Garden”? Med- itation is like that. We meditate to cultivate a different relationship with our inevitable human suffering, but it isn’t always easy or pleasant. The present moment can take so many forms, including difficult ones, but you can’t be any other place than where you actually are! → Illustrations by Gwenda Kaczor PRACTICES | the mindful faq