I recently went to a weekend retreat called WISDOM RISING with Buddhist Teacher Lama Tsultrim Allione and Yoga Teacher Shiva Rea. It was a powerful weekend full of insights and awakenings. To experience Buddhist and Yogic Teachings weaved together in a uniquely feminine way was beautiful and very affirming in my quest to connect to uniquely feminine contemplative paths. Many moments of delight, laughter and insight happen when women gather learn and share in a container of deep acceptance and empowerment. The main gift for me was the validation of the quality of the “fierce feminine” that both Shiva Rea and Lama Tsultrim Allione embodied together with an exquisite warmth.
Lama Tsultrim Allione talked about how there is a lack of role models who embody the fierce aspect of the feminine and how as women we are so hesitant to own that power that comes from anger. This last week as so many of us watched in horror as young children were separated from their mother as part of a new immigration policy I felt anger as very palpable and important emotion in me, the people around me and in the media. That fierceness that comes in the face of deep injustices is rising all around us. Much comes deep down from the cellular memory of women who know deep down know how it feels to be disempowered and crushed. More and more women are allowing that anger to rise, express and transmute into non aggressive action. This is particularly apparent in the “me too” movement, the women’s marches of this last year, and in the amount of women that have decided to run for political office fueled by outrage and a protective force.
Anger can be a violent destructive force and it’s healthy expression can be a motivator for change and action. The women marches that I participated in over the last year were cheerful, inspired and peaceful, yet sparked from a feeling of fierceness that called to action. When anger is recognized and then held in the cauldron of practice, it can be transformed into wisdom and skillful action.
Lama Allione’s book is called “Wisdom Rising,” and there are some helpful guidelines about the process of connecting and transmuting anger. I too in my own practice am allowing myself to connect to anger. This feels raw, risky and vulnerable. So many times as women we are told to be gentle, pleasant and yielding. The exploration is now about how to use our practices to leverage on the powerful aspects of anger instead of the destructive ones. Chanting, dancing and movement, deep breathing and unconditionally being present to what arises in our meditation practice helps to transform anger into an energy that feels creative, juicy and immensely liberating.
So in this summer season of Yang ( heat, power, willful action) let’s honor the wisdom of anger as a motivating force for change, because only when anger is suppressed it becomes violent, destructive and toxic. Let’s find a way to feel it and then run, chant, dance or do many sun salutations, and then sit quietly and allow guidance to emerge from our deep and wise self on how to take skillful action and how to gather the courage to take action where it is needed.