lion mouth openTwo shamans from Hawaii recently asked me to get mad. They told me to yell, cry, scream – release the anger my body’s holding.

I had nothing.

Ironically I’d drafted an article the day before arguing that releasing your anger is new-age b.s. and you really should be focused on joy instead.

I might be wrong…

Despite the Shamans’ best efforts to provoke me, all I could muster was a few low growls, a moment of tears, and a couple breathy coughs. My throat felt like a raised drawbridge – the path was clear but there was no way across.

I had the subtle sense something wanted to release but my mind stayed stuck in social niceties:

Why would I yell in someone’s living room?
How could I raise my voice in the company of two healers?
What would I say if I did?

I’ve lived with a knot in my throat for more years than I remember. Some nights I wake up at 3 a.m. and can’t fall back asleep because the pain from clenching my teeth is so intense.

Anger is my internal architecture. It’s become my structure – tense shoulders, tight jaw, rigid barely-moving belly and chest, tensely crossed legs, and painful joints. Every inch of my body knows anger; it is anger.

But I’m done with it.

I fantasize about feeling soft. I imagine standing upright with ease and taking a deep breath through an open throat. I’m a yoga teacher for pete’s sake!

How do you release what you can’t access? How do you put words to a feeling that is so far beyond a memory, it become your way of being?

Honestly, I don’t know. Here’s what I’m trying and suggest you try too:

  1. Repeat “I want to be free of this” hundreds, if not thousands of times, a day.
    Say it out loud, scream it if you want to. Leave no room for misunderstanding in your psyche – you are done and ready to be free. The Shamans taught me this and it is powerful!
  2. Move your body.
    Take yoga, self-defense, salsa dance lessons – it doesn’t matter – just move. Your body holds anger long after the initial moment of reaction has passed. Your nervous system is like a court stenographer, carefully recording every event and reaction. While that’s a great adaptation to prepare you for your next tiger encounter, it’s not so useful in our modern lives. Which brings me to the next point…
  3. Get help.
    Our bodies are expert deceivers. Most of us are blind to our own issues and even more clueless as to how to fix them. A skilled body worker and healer can guide you through the process of discovering and releasing negative emotion and holding.Don’t know where to start? It doesn’t matter – in the last two weeks, I’ve seen a Naturopath, masseuse specializing in Maya Abdominal Massage, an essential oils expert, a shaman, an acupuncturist and a Reiki master. Each one helps me release a little bit more and move that much closer to how I want to feel.
  4. Lastly * and no one wants to hear this * – meditate.
    In the silence – or more accurately, wild rage – of your thoughts, the mind can release decades, perhaps lifetimes, of negative energy. The work might not be pretty but the resulting peace is worth it. If you find meditation difficult, try following along to a Yoga Nidra. (I like these ones by my teacher, available here).

We all want to relinquish this heaviness we carry and move forward with a light heart and mind. So take action to let it go now.

You deserve it.


Your turn

Have you had a major breakthrough or release in your life? What practices do you recommend to release anger?