|Basic InformationLatest NewsBlog EntriesVideosLinksBook Reviews|10 Minute Solution: Butt Lift10 Minute Solution: High Intensity Interval Training101 Ways to Meditate29 Gifts3-In-1 Total Body Fitness with Desi Bartlett30 Minute Ab & Butt Blaster5 Day Fit Yoga5 Mega Miles with Toning Band7 Weeks to 100 Push-Ups8 Keys to Body Brain Balance8 Keys to Practicing MindfulnessA Journey Into Yin YogaA Philosophy for the Science of Well-BeingA.M. EnergyAccessible Yoga for Every Body DVDAfter the Ecstasy, the LaundryAge-Proof Your MindAgeless Mobility: Pain-Free Wellness For LongevityAlmost MeatlessAM/PM YogaAnd BreatheAnswers for AristotleAnywhere, Anytime, Any Body YogaAthlete's Guide to YogaAuthentic HappinessAwakening Self-EsteemBack in Action: Yoga for a Healthy BackBack To Basics: Fitness with Charlotte OrdBalanced AssetsBedroom Body: Booty Burner, Core & Pelvic Floor WorkoutBeginners Meditation & Mindful StretchingBeginners Yoga DVDBeginning YogaBellyFit ElementsBetter Sex Through YogaBeyond the SelfBody By BethennyBody Mindful YogaBorn to Balance - Balance BasicsBOSH!Breath-Centered YogaBreathingBrightening Our Inner SkiesBuddhist Boot CampCalm Body Clear MindCalm EnergyCalm Focus JoyChakra MeditationsChoosing CivilityClassical Pilates Technique DVDComplementary and Alternative Therapies ResearchCore Fusion - Pilates PlusCore Fusion - Pure Abs & ArmsCore Fusion - Thighs & GlutesCore Fusion Body SculptCore Fusion Lean & TonedCore Fusion Power SculptCore Strength PilatesCore Strength Vinyasa Yoga Power Hour with Sadie NardiniCore YogaCreative Core AbsCreative Writing In Health And Social CareDance Off the Inches: Cardio Hip Hop PartyDance the Chakras Yoga WorkoutDeep ListeningDeep Stretch / Yin YogaDetox YogaDr. Andrew Weil's Guide to Eating WellDr. Andrew Weil's Guide to Optimum HealthDr. Andrew Weil's Mindbody ToolkitEastern Body, Western MindEasy YogaElement: Barre ConditioningElement: Targeted Toning Pilates for BeginnersElement: Yoga for Stress Relief & FlexibilityElements of Yoga, Earth FoundationsElements of Yoga, Fire DynamicElements of Yoga: Air & WaterEmotional Chaos to ClarityEmotions, Stress, and HealthEvamarie Pilipuf's Yoga Express DVDEvery Day Yoga for Every Body DVDEveryday GreensEveryday Workout for the Everyday WomanEveryday Yoga for Stress Release Everything VeganExercise-Based Interventions for Mental IllnessExhale Core Fusion 30 Day SculptFamily ForagingFamily YogaFast Food for the SoulFat and FuriousFear and Other Uninvited GuestsFit Family Fun CircuitFit in 5 DVDFlat Abs PilatesFlow and YinFlow YogaFluid Power Vinyasa Flow YogaFood You Can ForageForgiveness is Really StrangeFully PresentGaiam Pilates Slide and Sculpt Kit with DVDGaiam Pilates Total Toning KitGaiam Yoga For Weight Loss KitGet Ripped & ChiseledGet RIPPED! 1000 #3Get RIPPED! and Jacked - The Boomer WorkoutGood MedicineGoodbye, ThingsHandbook of MindfulnessHealing the Heart and Mind with MindfulnessHealing Through Movement: Pilates Head to ToeHealthy AgingHealthy Sexy Beautiful Kundalini YogaHemalayaa's Yoga for Young Bodies DVDHemalayaa: Bollywood BootyHot Body Cool Mind - Level 1Hot Body Cool Mind: Waking Energy How to Be a PatientHow to Be a StoicHow to Cook Everything VegetarianHow Would Buddha Act?I Contain MultitudesI'd Rather LaughIn Defense of FoodInsight Yoga Earth: Balancing Yin EnergyInsight Yoga Heaven: Balancing YangInsight Yoga with Sarah PowersIntegrated YogaIntegrative MedicineInternational Perspectives on Reminiscence, Life Review and Life Story WorkIntroduction to Ashtanga Yoga DVDIntroduction to Qi YogaIntroduction to Yoga DVDIt's Up to YouJanis Saffell Beverly Hills YogaKids Teach Yoga - Flying EagleKidYogi - Yoga for ChildrenKnowing the Nature of FearKripalu YogaKripalu Yoga Dynamic DVDKripalu Yoga Gentle DVDKundalini Yoga : DVDKundalini Yoga for Beginners & BeyondKUNDALINI YOGA for Your Week - MONDAYKUNDALINI YOGA for Your Week - TUESDAY - CoreKundalini Yoga Meditation for Beginners & BeyondKundalini Yoga Meditation for Complex Psychiatric DisordersKundalini Yoga on the BallKundalini Yoga Solar Power All-In-One WorkoutKundalini Yoga to Detox and Destress DVDKundalini Yoga Transformer All-In-One WorkoutKundalini Yoga: Green Energy of the HeartLife MakeoversLifeForce Yoga to Beat the Blues--Level 1LifeForce Yoga to Beat the Blues: Level 2Living BeautifullyLiving Room Yoga DVDLiving Room Yoga: Twist and BendLiving Your Best LifeLiving Your DreamLunar Flow YogaMadhur Jaffrey's World VegetarianMake It Fast, Cook It SlowManage Your Depression Through ExerciseMaui PilatesMayo Clinic Wellness Solutions for Back PainMayo Clinic Wellness Solutions for IBSMayo Clinic Wellness Solutions for InsomniaMean GenesMeditation in a New York MinuteMeditations for BeginnersMeditations on Self-Discipline and FailureMind GamesMindful AmericaMindful AngerMindfulnessMindfulness for BeginnersMindfulness-Based Treatment Approaches: Clinician's Guide to Evidence Base and ApplicationsMisadventures of a Garden State YogiMozart's Brain and the Fighter PilotNamaste Yoga: Season 3 Part 1NeuroLogicNew York PilatesNext-Level PilatesNutrition Essentials for Mental HealthOn Being an Introvert or Highly Sensitive PersonPassionate VegetarianPerfect in Ten AbsPerfect in Ten: PilatesPerfect in Ten: StretchPerfect in Ten: YogaPilates AnatomyPilates for BeginnersPilates for MenPortraits of ResiliencePositivityPower to the Peaceful YogaPower YogaPower YogaPower YogaPower Yoga for HappinessPower Yoga: Core PowerPower Yoga: Fat BurnerPrenatal FlowPrescriptive StretchingPresence Through Movement: Yin YogaPsychology Moment by MomentPure and Simple YogaPure SculptPure Yoga Pilates with Kerry BestwickQi Gong Fire & Water With Matthew CohenQi Gong Flow for BeginnersQi Gong for Low Back PainQi Gong for Upper Back and Neck PainQi Gong for Weight LossQi Workout AM/PMQiGong for Healthy Joints & BonesQiGong IllustratedQuick Blast MethodReach - Upbeat Toning & Flexibility for a Dancer's BodyRed Lotus YogaResistance Stretching With Dara TorresRestorative Yoga PracticeSara Ivanhoe's Taste DVDSaving NormalSelf-CompassionSeven Challenges To Change Your Life DVDSleep BetterSolar Flow Yoga DVDSoupsSparkSpontaneous HappinessSports Hypnosis in PracticeStep By Step Strength TrainingStep by Step Tai ChiStrength & SpiritStrength, Grace, HealingStress ReliefStrong & SculptedStrong Body, Ageless BodySun SalutationsSuper Natural CookingSuper Seniors: Box, Balance, & Lift SuperhumanSupersurvivorsSurf Yoga SoulSybel's Yoga For Sports & FitnessSybel's Yoga For Sports & Fitness Vol 2Tai Chi for Beginners with Grandmaster William C. C. ChenTaming Your Inner BratTeach Yourself MeditationTeen YogaTeenYogi DVDTen Minutes to RelaxThe Accidental VeganThe Angelica Home KitchenThe Art and Science of MindfulnessThe Athlete's Guide to YogaThe Beginner's Guide to Healthy EatingThe Best Things You Can EatThe Booty Barre -Total New BodyThe Breathing FieldThe Cafe Brenda CookbookThe Complete Book of Raw FoodThe Complete Vegetarian HandbookThe Easy Yoga WorkbookThe Feeling Good HandbookThe Five Things We Cannot Change ...The Good LifeThe Happiness of PursuitThe Harvard Medical School Guide to YogaThe Healing Remedies SourcebookThe Healing Remedies SourcebookThe Health Psychology HandbookThe Healthy KitchenThe Heart of YogaThe Indian VegetarianThe Jewel Tree of TibetThe Joy of MeditatingThe Kettlebell BoomerThe Little Book of Healthy TeasThe Little Soy BookThe Little Yoga BookThe Mood CureThe Mozart EffectThe Myth of Freedom and the Way of MeditationThe Nature FixThe Origins of HappinessThe Perfect ExerciseThe Pilates Workout JournalThe Playful BrainThe Quest for Peace, Love, and a 24'' WaistThe Road to Calm WorkbookThe Self-Compassion Skills WorkbookThe Spa DeckThe Spirit of Buddhist MeditationThe Stoic Art of LivingThe Ultimate BALLET YOGAThe Ultra MindsetThe Way of StretchingThe Weight of the NationThe Well-Tuned BrainThe Will to Live and Other MysteriesThe Wisdom of FrugalityThe Yin Yoga KitThink SmartTotal AstangaTotal Health the Chinese WayTotal PilatesTotal-Body ToningTransform Yourself with Jivamukti YogaTransformative YogaTrudie Styler's Warrior YogaV-Core WorkoutVegan ExpressVegan for LifeVegan Recipes from the Middle EastVegetarian Turkish CookingVegetarianoViva Vegan!Walk It Off in 30 DaysWalk to the HITS Radio RemixesWalkingWalking a Literary LabyrinthWatch Me Do YogaWeight Loss Cardio KickWellbeingWhat We Say MattersWhen Things Fall ApartWriting in FlowYin and Yang YogaYin Yoga DVDYogaYogaYogaYoga & Pilates Workouts for DummiesYoga 4 TeensYoga : Beginners Flow for EveryoneYoga AnatomyYoga and PsychologyYoga as MedicineYoga Beauty BodyYoga Bliss HipsYoga Body : Lean & Defined Total Body WorkoutYoga By Teens DVDYoga Emergency DVD: Arms & ShouldersYoga Emergency DVD: BackYoga Emergency DVD: Full Leg StretchYoga Emergency DVD: HipsYoga Flow DVDYoga for AnxietyYoga for AthletesYoga for Back CareYoga for BeginnersYoga for Energy & Stress ReliefYoga for EveryoneYoga for MeditatorsYoga for OsteoporosisYoga for Pain ReliefYoga for Regular GuysYoga for Strength & EnergyYoga for Strength & FlexibilityYoga for the Young at HeartYoga for Your WeekYoga In BedYoga in BedYoga Inside Out: Go DeeperYoga Inside Out: The Healing WayYoga Journal's Yoga for StressYoga Journal: Yoga for Strength and Toning DVDYoga Link: Core IntegrationYoga Link: Hip HelpersYoga Link: Shoulder Shape-UpYoga Nidra for Complete Relaxation and Stress ReliefYoga on DemandYoga Quick FixesYoga SanctuaryYoga SculptYoga ShaktiYoga TherapyYoga TherapyYoga Therapy for Back PainYoga Therapy Prescriptions - 60 Health Restorative SequencesYoga To Go's Yoga Quick Fixes DVDYoga to the Rescue - Feel Good from Head to ToeYoga to the Rescue for Back PainYoga to the Rescue for Neck & ShouldersYoga to the Rescue for Pain-Free Back, Neck & ShouldersYoga Weight Loss for DummiesYoga: Freedom from Back PainYoga: Relief from Neck and Shoulder PainYoga: Spirit of Vinyasa FlowYogabodyYogawomanYou Can Think Yourself ThinYou'll See It When You Believe ItYour Body Breakthru - Your Best Body Circuit DVDYour Brain on FoodYour Brain on Food: How Chemicals Control Your Thoughts and Feelings,Your Miracle BrainZen Encounters with Loneliness
by Andrea Brandt
W. W. Norton, 2014
Review by Wendy C. Hamblet, Ph.D. on Dec 2nd 2014
Psychotherapist Andrea Brandt's new book (2014), Mindful Anger: a pathway to emotional freedom, grabs your emotional attention--your gut--from the opening pages, as she describes the painful multigenerational legacy of anger suppression that stunted her childhood capacity for happiness and carried forward into her adult relationships. It is a common enough story, which is why it rings so true, reminding the reader of the harms that parents do their children and the enormous challenge of identifying those harms, let along confronting and overcoming them. The story also plays on our fears as parents, reminding us that none of us really knows what we are doing as we embark upon this terrifying, joyful journey called parenthood. Merely coming to an awareness of the need for change in generations of parental methodology is the primary challenge for many; an apt example exists in the fact of the dogged endurance of the parenting tradition of corporal punishment, despite the vast literature proving its harms. For those who suffer an acute awareness of the hurts that linger within them as a result of the harsh lessons of their tender years, the overwhelming tendency is to carve out parenting methods in diametric opposition to the upbringing they experienced. Knowing only that we do not want to repeat the mistakes we recognize in our own parents' parenting skills, we often over-correct and make the opposite kind of errors in the next generation of our family lives.
For many, coming to recognize the histories of anger and resentment, suppressed or expressed, that continue to configure their relationships and distance them from friends and loved ones is a slow and painful process. However, Brandt's experience of overcoming her own histories of anger suppression does not follow this "slow and steady realization" model. One day in a group therapy session with her husband, she recounts, the anger she had kept deeply hidden all her life suddenly burst out of her in a screaming, purse-swinging fit of aggression, directed at another group member. The outburst, so uncharacteristic of this quiet, repressed woman, shocked everyone, including her, and ultimately led to a divorce. However the immediate effects of this fit of anger were the most personally telling and significant for Brandt's evolution as a psychotherapist: she reports that days of sobbing, as she released the decades of hurt, were followed by a profound sense of freedom and lightness--a euphoria of post-expression liberation.
This experience led Brandt to a therapy-significant insight: anger is not merely a bad thing to be suppressed and stored out of sight where it cannot do damage. It is precisely out of sight that it does the most damage; out of sight is not out of mind or psyche or gut. Brandt began to explore her insight with a tool now quite popular in use among psychologists, pain therapists, and laypersons in the West, but whose sources, once again in this latest professional work, are not cited or acknowledged (beyond a reference to the popular Oprah!)--mindfulness or meditation. Borrowed from the ancient Eastern traditions, meditation is a deep-listening, concentrated attention to mind/body that awakens the being's natural ability for insights that make sense of paradoxes of the human condition and bring peace to the practitioner; it comprises what Thich Nhat Hahn calls "the art of suffering," which is not distinct from the "art of happiness." Happiness and suffering are deeply interconnected, two sides of the same coin, and the negative emotions or kleishas, such as anger, comprise the mud from which the lotus takes root.
Employing mindfulness of anger in her psychotherapy practice, Brandt counsels her clients to apply the ancient practice to look deeply at the roots that drive the destructive behaviors that undermine their relationships and their capacity for happiness. She guides them to follow her lived example to the bliss of freedom from anger. Placing concentrated attention upon what is arising in one's mind, but with an attitude of acceptance rather than judgment, one comes to know intimately one's sensations and feelings and ultimately gain insights regarding their inner, and often very old, truth. She counsels her clients in their journey of self-awareness to become conscious of: how anger functions (what happens when anger arises in them, what role they play in it, what alternative options they might exercise in its stead); how anger expresses itself in their lives; how to identify anger's roots in their historical experiences, thoughts and embedded beliefs; and how to release anger in more constructive ways and thus make changes that can improve their lives and relationships, essentially moving anger out of the dungeon of their unconscious feelings to the living room of their present lives, to make room for the positive emotions of gratitude and forgiveness to enter that present and heal them.
Brandt's anger "types"--anger-dumpers (often violent "reactaholics") and anger-suppressors (chronic "victims," who consume to forget or project the blame for their pain onto others)--recalls the primary message of the great philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche--reactive people are sick! Brandt identifies the anger myths that keep us imprisoned in our reactive postures toward the world: anger is bad; we should hide, deny or suppress it; anger brings more harm than benefit; confronting issues is painful so should be avoided; and if we allow our anger to be expressed, we will lose control and not be able to accomplish what we need to get done. The myths exposed as flawed, reactive reasoning, Brandt then offers us some ways to break free of these prejudices and use anger meaningfully to improve our lives.
Journaling one's pain out of the body and onto the page is a popular mindfulness practice that helps the sufferer to redefine the self in relations with the world and to understand anger as a valuable repository of messages to self that signal our unmet needs and fears, unspoken values, disrespected boundaries, and profound beliefs about right and wrong. When we self-examine through mindful practices, we come to understand our own emotions and why they arise, and through dedicated practice, we can have greater freedom from impulsive reactivity and develop broader options for dealing with the difficulties that confront us. Albeit, as we know, Nietzsche's often ranting and condemnatory journaling, brilliant though it was, hardly helped this quiet, gentle man to maintain mental health; in 1889 at the age of 44, he collapsed on the streets of Turin in a full psychotic breakdown, after witnessing a rather mundane cruelty of his time, the savage beating of a horse. He spent the remainder of his dark, demented days in Jena mental asylum where he died the following year.
Brandt provides other practical strategies for sitting with one's anger and learning from it to gain insight into making changes that can serve peaceful living. She gives explicit lessons on mindful breathing, mindful body scanning, mindful eating, visualization exercises, mindful connecting with the natural environment, mindful observance of thoughts and feeling--all pretty common strategies coopted from Eastern philosophies and applied (as though innovative!) by the psychological sciences these past thirty years. However, in this specific application, these mindfulness strategies target anger to catch it in the act, so to speak, and learn what it can tell us about what provokes us and how to buy time to replace our reactive responses with healthier, more mindful ("active" for Nietzsche, who considered himself the "Buddha of Europe") responses.
These practices, whatever their unacknowledged origins, are always worth hearing again, because just when we think we have overcome our old emotional reactions, they have a way of sneaking up on us and reasserting themselves in new more subtle forms. When we overcome our destructive patterns of reactive behaviors, we set ourselves free from the past. With mindfulness, we take greater command of those strong emotions that have a tendency to carry us away into our own suffering. Knowing the self more intimately, we can stop looking to others for our happiness, and become more responsible for our behaviors, rather than blaming others for "making us" angry, frustrated, and unhappy. Taking charge of our emotional world, we act from a position of self-empowerment and self-confidence, and stop viewing the world as a "zero-sum game" that we must win, rather than as an opportunity to engage skillfully in the win/win relationships that are the true source of our peace and stability.
This book will surely be found most helpful by a general educated public, but it would also provide a good text for budding specialists in the psychological professions, as yet ungrounded in Eastern practices.
© 2014 Wendy C. Hamblet
Wendy C. Hamblet, Ph.D., Professor, North Carolina A&T State University.