You’re still gonna get pissed: what meditation does (and doesn’t) do for your mental state

I used to get so mad. SO. MAD.

Photo by  Jayden Yoon

Photo by Jayden Yoon

Like shaking and sweating, cursing and muttering, busting-people-in-the-back-with-metal-chairs mad.

This was at work, mostly.

  • A salesperson would offer a client something for a ridiculously low price, and I’d be stuck having to deliver it while everyone asked why the project was so over budget.

  • My boss would ask me to send specific information to a client, then call me later (drunk) and yell at me in front of a bunch of people for sending that specific information.

  • Some jackass would hold a cocktail-making contest right outside my office door while I was presenting work to my most important client via conference call.

And more stuff like that.

Stuff that’s probably happened to you, too.

That kind of thing would piss anyone off, right?

Just getting mad was never enough for me, though. I’d get caught up in it, swirling and whirling in a tornado of fury so intense I couldn’t even work. I’d stew on it until my meat was falling off my bones.

This was less than productive.

Photo by  mwangi gatheca

Even through the red haze of my righteous anger, I could see that something needed to change. I could see that I needed a cure. One amazing solution that would ensure I’d never get mad again!

I tried reading a couple self-help books. They mentioned meditation, but I figured that was for people with time.

I tried listening to a bunch of spiritual-type teachers on tape. They mentioned meditation, but I assumed that was for people whose minds didn’t look like the 100th lap of a NASCAR race.

I tried taking a bunch of yoga classes. They all mentioned meditation, but I thought it was just for people who believed in that garbage.

And, I don’t know if you’re going to believe this or not, but I was still mad.

And then I got this amazing idea. What about meditation?

To get started, I sat on a metal chair and I concentrated on my breathing and even after several weeks of doing this for 5 excruciatingly long minutes at a time, I still got mad.

And just when I thought I’d go ahead and quit, I started to notice something weird: I was becoming aware that I was getting mad.

Photo by  David Clode

Photo by David Clode

I was somehow standing outside of my brain, and looking inside, like some kid with its snotty nose pressed against the glass of a giant aquarium. Only instead of seeing an eel and a sawfish and a couple of nurse sharks, I just saw that I was mad.

Once I could see it, I could start choosing to let it go, or at least to not get carried away by it. Eventually I started to gain some semblance of control over it.

This happened over a much longer period than the quick fix I was looking for, but it did actually happen.

Fast forward to today, two and a half years of meditation later. I still get mad. But I don’t really get as mad, and I don’t waste a million hours of my life replaying it over and over.

What I’m trying to tell you here is this: Meditation will not cure you of anger or any other emotion.

And I guess, really, you don’t want it to.

Emotions are kind of an all or nothing deal, you know? You still want love and happiness and that one you feel when you have an inside joke with someone who really gets you.

So keep meditating through your madness and sadness and discomfort. It may not get better, exactly, but it will get easier to understand. And you, my friend, are definitely someone who deserves a little understanding.