Experiencing anger during Take10

June 20, 2014

Experiencing anger during Take10

Each week we feature Andy's answer to one of the questions he has been sent by a member of the Headspace community about their meditation practice. 

Here he answers a question from a Headspacer currently on Take10....



I'm on day 6 of Take10 and I found today that during the section where you let your mind be free I had some flashes of images that I found quite disturbing and unpleasant, I suffer from anxiety and i'm not really sure how to cope with that. In fact if I knew how too I don't think i'd suffer from anxiety. I was really angry with myself and I felt that it spoiled this mornings meditation. Any advice?


Also the 'rising and falling sensation' I'm not exactly sure what you mean by that and if you could send me a little guidance?




Hi, thanks for getting in touch. Of course, I’d be very happy to share a few thoughts. 


Let’s start with the breath. So, as the body breathes it creates a rising and falling sensation. By this I mean the movement of the body. An easy way to discover this movement is to place your hand on your stomach, diaphragm or chest and observe the movement as the body inhales and exhales. Sometimes the movement is very strong, at other times it is a little more subtle, but it is always there. 


The next thing is the sense of anger you experienced. This is very natural, but it’s worth considering how much you entertain the idea afterwards. Sure, we may not like the fact that we get anxious once in a while, but by adding anger and frustration into the mix, we are really just pouring petrol on the fire. Mindfulness is about observing thoughts and feelings without judgement or criticism. Instead, simply acknowledging the feeling, recognising it is part of being human and understanding that all human beings experience something similar - even if it sometimes feels we are the only one. 


Finally, coming back to your very first question, this is nothing to worry about at all. In fact I would even say it is something good, something positive. Generally speaking, as humans we tend to filter most of our thoughts. This is why the dream world (where are thoughts generally go unfiltered) often appears so bizarre when we awake in the morning. So, in that part of the exercise, when we let go completely, we are essentially dropping the filter, maybe for the very first time. At first this can sound quite scary, but it actually the beginning of something very special - sometimes refereed to as freedom of mind. 


Imagine no longer being afraid of thought, no longer being resistant to certain emotions, instead just experiencing the mind, exactly as it is, no matter what thoughts arise (and yes, disturbing ones are not at all uncommon). That’s partly why that part of the exercise is so short to begin with, it’s like dipping our toes in the water. Over time everything settles down and we can simply relax as we let go. But give it time and be kind to your mind in the meantime.

Warm wishes, Andy




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July 30, 2014

I found it really useful to read this as I'm still suffering from frustration and anger and I'm at Take 20!! I have anxiety brought on by developing post viral syndrome (bit like ME) and I was advised to use mindfulness to help. At the moment I have relapsed so pretty much housebound. Today, at the beginning of my meditation I was crying tears of frustration. I thought that it was probably the meditation - but maybe it's the frustration at my physical limitations (caused by relapse).... Anyone else suffering total frustration at this late stage?



August 1, 2014

I experienced something similar when I set my mind free, the difference being I felt overwhelmed with tearfulness for no apparent reason - I didn't feel anxious or frustrated before that! very odd