A couple of entries ago, I began to talk about the five precepts of reiki and how the introductory line, “For today only”, keeps our lives and practices in the present moment. The first of the precepts themselves is “Do not anger.”
Some people want to change this one to “be happy” or “be calm” because of their experience of using affirmations to programme their unconscious with good thoughts. The precepts are not affirmations. They are simply reminders, post-it notes to the self about how to act or not act.
“Do not anger” is not about burying that emotion or pretending that it doesn’t exist. It IS about not attaching to our anger. In my experience with self and clients, to hold on to anger is to be addicted to incidents in the past. It’s to cling to something that’s no longer happening in order to feel justified or to maximise one’s victimhood (“You know what he did to me…13 years ago?“). And it’s not good for one’s body. Just ask anyone holding a grudge how hir digestive system is doing these days.
This first precept is about detaching from our anger experiences once they have served their purpose. Anger is only an indicator that something needs to change. Used well, it’s a tool to help us shift from what doesn’t serve us or the world around us to something that does. Express the anger constructively (journalling, physical activity, “I feel” statements rather than blame statements, etc.), then move on. It’s done. Journey into the next moment with a clear mind.
This is a simple idea, but not necessarily easy to carry out. It’s a daily practice, nay, a moment-by-moment practice. “For today only, do not anger” invites us to stay conscious about the true source of the anger, deal with it in the present, and move on.