If a fire alarm goes off in a building, my guess is that you would pay attention. You would not try to drown out the alarm’s noise with a silencing agent and attempt to go about your business.
Of course not.
You would pay attention and heed the warnings. And you would probably want to know the source of the fire, even if you didn’t hunt it down yourself.
A fire alarm is a system designed to alert us when something is wrong and needs attention.
What if our physical pain was also a system designed to tell us what needs attention? Would we silence the pain — by numbing it with pain killers — or would we listen to it?
The body speaks to us. But often we don’t listen.
Anger is a fiery emotion. Like fire, it can spread quickly and easily to other parts of a structure — in this case, the physical body.
This is a description how anger can spread through our physical body.
How Anger Feels in The Body
The body feels angry even before the mind creates the story around it. Once you develop the skill to become aware of this, you can be with the feeling in your body without getting into a story about who is to blame or the reasons for your anger.
Heart: Love, Trust, Faith, Fear, Anger
Anger armors the heart. That’s not just metaphorical spiritual woo-woo speak. That’s an actual, physical feeling.
It starts behind the heart. When I feel anger, I usually feel it as a pang in my back, just below the left shoulder blade. Or I feel the gripping in the chest. When I sit in stillness I can feel the difference between my left side and my right side. I may feel the vise tighten around my heart. The breath gets stuck in that place just behind the heart.
In the chakra system, the heart area, including the shoulders and arms, is the fourth chakra. This is the place where we experience love, fear, trust, and faith. When the breath gets stuck in the heart area, it impacts the rest of the body.
I feel pain in my shoulders. I get more tingling in my arms and hands. The circulation to the extremities gets cut off.
Stomach: Power Center
When the breath gets stuck in the heart area, it doesn’t flow to the stomach. If breath can’t flow to the stomach, digestion slows or shuts down. We may lose appetite. We may become bloated.
The stomach area is the third chakra. This is the power center.
This is the place where we feel the rumblings of our intuition — it’s called a gut instinct for a reason.
We think anger makes us powerful, but from the body’s perspective, we block our power when we become angry. Without breath flowing to our gut, we lose our ability to feel our “gut instinct.”
Pelvis & Hips: Creativity
When breath doesn’t flow to the stomach, it can’t flow to the pelvic area and hips. The physical response is similar to the fear response, which makes sense when you consider that anger is often a mask for fear.
My hips get tight. They seize up, as if reacting to an attack. The psoas, a muscle that attaches to the bottom of the ribs and runs through the groin and leg, is the fight-or-flight muscle. It gets tight. That’s how it’s evolved — it’s a protective mechanism.
The pelvis, hips and womb are the second chakra. It’s the source of our creativity and what we “birth” into the world, whether it’s a literal baby, a creative project, or a blog post. Fertility, menstrual cycle, sexual function, sperm health, egg viability, and creativity can all be impacted by anger, by the lack of breath flow to the reproductive organs.
Legs and Feet: Physical Foundation
If the breath isn’t flowing through the hips, it’s not getting to the legs and feet. This is the first chakra, our physical foundation. Home. Finances. Support systems. Our first chakra is what grounds us. It creates physical, emotional, and energetic stability.
Physical issues with the legs and feet can arise from, or cause, a feeling of instability in our home, finances, support systems. But sometimes the problem starts in a different part of the chain. Breath that doesn’t flow down through the heart to the stomach to the hips also isn’t nourishing the legs and feet.
Ears, Nose & Throat: Self-Expression
Energy flows up too. When the heart is hardened, breath gets stuck there. It means it can’t flow down from the throat. And it can’t flow up through the body past the heart to the throat and the head. Sore throat. Clogged ears. Stuffed up nose. Congestion.
Ears, nose, and throat are the fifth chakra, which governs communication. It’s hard to communicate well and articulate yourself when you’re angry. We also lose our capacity to hear others. We can hear only our own anger.
The fifth chakra is also related to the second chakra. Creativity goes hand-in-hand with self-expression. When we are angry, we block the flow to both.
Above the ears are the eyes. This is the sixth chakra — the third eye.
Consider these expressions:
I’m so angry I can’t see straight.
Blinded by anger.
Where do you think they come from?
Anger prevents us from seeing straight — both literally and in the sense of seeing the full picture of a situation.
The seventh chakra is above the crown of the head. This is our spiritual connection — our connection to the Divine Source/God/Goddess/the Universe/nature (whatever works for you).
When we are angry, we lose our connection to our source. We separate from ourselves.
That connection fuels intuition and trust.
When you sit with the feeling of anger in your body, it’s hard to also think about why you’re angry. And, really, the why doesn’t matter. It’s just a story.
Rather than numbing the pains we feel in our body, we can learn to listen to them and track them to their source.
As we sit and breathe into the anger, we notice that it subsides. Emotions last for only 90 seconds. It’s the stories we tell about the emotions that cause us to get stuck in the pain.
The only way to put the fire out is to feel the heat.