I started reading Thich Nhat Hanh’s book Anger: Wisdom for Cooling the Flames recently. My friend Angela recommended this book to me and I now keep it on my bedside table for little doses of reading before bed.
Right now I am delving deeply into the chapter called “The Language of True Love.” I have been thinking about anger and how it relates to language because for the past few weeks I have had terrible pain in my jaw (left TMJ area) and now in my left neck muscles. I know there is something to be learned by this pain. I know this pain is not purely physical in nature. I feel this pain has to do with my throat chakra and my speaking my truth.
I also think that this pain has to do with anger. After all, when we are angry or stressed we tend to clench our jaw, tighten our neck muscles, and stop breathing properly. These all create a hostile environment for the throat chakra — a chakra that is the gateway from the lower chakras to the upper chakras, the smallest channel in the body for energy to flow from one chakra to the next. If the feelings of the heart aren’t accepted and communicated via the throat, we can experience physical or emotional pain.
I received a massage today as part of my journey to soften the pain in my neck and as I was lying on the table the idea (not the feeling) of anger emerged. Am I angry about something? Has something gone unexpressed? I began to have a dialogue with my neck and jaw — one of curiosity and compassion. This internal conversation reminded me of a passage from Hanh’s Anger:
“When you are angry, your anger is your baby and you have to look after it. It is like when your stomach is upset, you have to go back to yourself and embrace your stomach. Your stomach is your baby at that moment. Our stomach is a physical formation, a physiological formation, and our anger is a mental formation. We must take care of our anger in the same way we take care of our stomach….”
After the massage session, I felt like my neck was this baby to look after, to console, to comfort. I also felt like I needed to listen to this baby and to let it scream if it needed to. (BTW, no screaming yet, but if need be, I will let ‘er rip!)
What physical pain are you experiencing right now — from the tiniest of annoyances to major discomfort — that could use some attention? What, beyond your physiology, might be contributing to this discomfort? And what might happen if you listened to this part of your body and cradled it like a baby in need or your care? And in your dialogue with this part of your body, what emotions reside there? Is there anger, fear, sadness? Allow yourself to feel what emerges, and most likely this awareness will lessen the pain.
I am glad to report that my neck is feeling much better this evening, but I also feel like there is more left on my journey of discovering what this area of my body needs to communicate. Next to my Anger book I also keep a journal, so I am ready to record insights and messages as they arrive. Perhaps a dream will reveal some insight tonight….