According to Ayurveda, anger usually is a combination of excessive Pitta Dosha with a lack of 'Sattva'. Sattva is one of the three qualities of the mind in yogic philosophy. Sattva refers to a balanced and harmonious emotional state usually associated with contentment, intelligence, and clarity. Lack of Sattva expresses either as Rajas (the over-ambitious side of the mind) or as Tamas (the lethargic side of the mind).
In a balanced person, the mind manifests with strong willpower, capacity for concentration, confidence, and enthusiasm. When out of balance, and under the influence of Pitta, the mind gets heated and this provokes all sorts of fiery emotions.
When anger arises, it can be very challenging to control it as it spreads like a wildfire in dry bushes. The sharp quality attached to Pitta Dosha can flip a situation within a split second and can create toxicity. Chronic anger, for example, could be linked to premature aging and diseases such as arthritis. Even depression can manifest when anger is repressed and directed toward the self.
Emotions like anger or frustration can be tamed when following Ayurvedic principles. To balance the mind Ayurveda offers a range of lifestyle recommendations. Among those practices, one can find asana, pranayama, herbal remedies, and meditation most helpful. Generally, a wise approach is to address the quality of one's own mind and bring more Sattva to your life.
Cultivating a Sattvic Mind
Spending time in nature and contemplating its beauty brings one Sattva. Ayurveda recommends cooling down in nature while being surrounded by trees, plants, and water to calm the mind. Gazing at water or at the sky is best at appeasing the inner fire. Meditative walks and mindfulness practices allow us to balance the mind by creating space and becoming the witness of our thoughts and emotions.
Once the mind and its channels are back in balance, we are able to observe without judging. Only once we are able to do this will it become easier to identify what causes our anger so that we can shift our attitude and bring encouragement and acknowledgment to ourselves and to others. According to Ayurveda, mental digestion is as important as the physical one.
Being gentle with the self and with others
As an imbalanced Pitta can become sharp with words and hurt others, practising listening and being fully present are antidotes to this anger.
Another simple yet powerful practice for a hot-tempered person is to take time at the end of the day to reflect and be grateful, remember the ones you love, and visualize their faces - chances are this will trigger a smile on your face.
Loving kindness is a meditation that soothes Pitta. It is accessible to anyone and can be practiced anytime - both alone or with the guidance of more experienced practitioners.
Breathing and Asanas
To soften the mind and ground the body, take a long inhale while softly expanding the lower belly to relax the abdomen and the diaphragm. Soft belly breathing creates fresh space in the abdominal region and acts on the liver, the spleen, and the small intestine where Pitta tends to accumulate.
Sheetali is another breathing practice which helps to bring Pitta Dosha back into balance as it cools down the head. This technique requires you to inhale by the mouth with the tongue rolled like a straw.
When practising yoga asanas, pay attention to your gaze and make it softer than usual. You can spend more time on twists and forward bends, excellent postures to cool down Pitta. Finishing postures should be grounding postures, so spending more time in Savasana, the ultimate letting go, is excellent to release anger!
Letting go and Forgiveness
Acting spontaneously without expectations is a way to let go. When we let go, we restore our emotional capacity and we keep a safe body, without sickness or premature aging.
Letting go does not mean ignoring or avoiding emotions but simply being with what arises. Letting go can include simple steps like just slowing down or freeing up some space in our agenda for pleasure and being with our kids. Speaking of kids and Ayurveda… Tory is soon hosting an ayurvedic workshop on kids' health and vitality.
Using the senses
Working through all the senses is a key element of holistic teachings. Enjoying soft and pleasant sounds, spreading fresh and cooling scents around the house, and giving yourself massages can be great ways to manage your anger.
For instance, even when choosing your clothing, opt for cool-colored clothes, in shades of blue and grey, made out of natural fabrics. Ayurveda recommends wearing a necklace of pearls to bring Pitta down as well.
For heated emotions aromas of lavender, geranium, bergamot, and chamomile can be used. These oils are considered cooling, soothing and softening, and so ideal to bring an angry Pitta down. Other essential oils to consider are sandalwood and vetiver. A simple tip is to spread a few drops of oil directly on a tissue and inhale from there. Alternatively, by using a diffuser you can nicely disperse the aroma in a room. And for skin application you can dilute the essential oil in a carrier oil, like almond, jojoba oil or coconut as it is best to avoid direct contact with the skin.
As the sense of sight is the one associated with the fire element according to Ayurveda, placing an eye pillow or a wet towel on the eyes can be a great tip to relax when things are getting too sharp!
And if you want to end the day with a tasty and soothing touch you can blend some chamomile, rose, and lavender in your tea!