The Difference Between Controlling and Suppressing Anger
Question: What is the practical difference between controlling anger as Swami Sivananda taught, and suppressing it in a way that it can continue to affect the person subconsciously?
A: According to the teaching of yoga, the main cause of anger is obstructed or unfulfilled desires. Let us say that we have desires, and we try to fulfill them; and these desires are obstructed, so we cannot fulfill them. This brings anger. For example, if I am under the impression that someone made me angry, then I meditate no one else can make me angry — that is not possible. Anger always rises from within.
The yogic method to control anger is to meditate on the opposite of anger. What is the opposite of anger; joy, patience, love, peace, and compassion. When anger arises, we do not suppress anger; we meditate on its opposite.
The only way to overcome anger is to transform it into its opposite, and we can do this through meditation. And by repeating this process, by doing it again and again, we become better and better at it.
In yoga there is no issue of suppressing anger; there is the issue of transforming anger into its opposite or sublimating anger. Then we can go even further. We can do the very opposite action that we intended to do toward the person toward which we direct the anger. Let us say that we direct the anger toward a certain person, and with the anger, there comes a certain action. Not only that we think the opposite thought, but we also do the opposite action. By doing it again and again, the energy of anger is transmuted into its opposite. What was destructive in the beginning becomes constructive and positive. This is a yogic practice, and we can do this again and again. When we sit and meditate, if we suffer from anger, we can meditate on its opposite. We can invoke the opposite of anger. If we do it day by day, slowly, slowly the quality is going to change. This is a common yogic practice; also it is a very beneficial practice.
Swami Swaroopananda is a senior disciple of Swami Vishnudevananda. A practicing yogi from a very young age, Swami Swaroopananda has dedicated his life to the practice and teaching of yoga. He taught in Yoga Teacher Training Courses around the world and is currently teaching advanced yoga philosophy courses and lectures internationally. He is Director of the Sivananda Ashram Yoga Retreat and acharya (spiritual director) for the Sivananda centers and ashrams in the Bahamas and the Middle East. He is a member of the Board of Directors of the International Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centres.