Feeling easily irritable / angry after sitting

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  • Alyosha
    Member
    • Apr 2024
    • 5

    Feeling easily irritable / angry after sitting

    It seems like the opposite thing should be happening, but lately I've noticed a bit more irritation, a quickness to anger, in the half hour or so after sitting. I'm currently sitting twice a day ~20min and this a recent development.

    My zazen has lately taken on a new dimension, as well. I find myself getting to a certain point faster than I used to. It's difficult to describe, but I'm through what I call the "initial chatter" and into a tingly kind of "silently here", then the bell rings. I think I need to up the time, but that's another discussion.

    I get surprised at myself when the irritation happens. I should be feeling much less of that, not more. Has anyone experienced anything like this before?

    Gassho,
    A

    sat/lah
  • Bion
    Treeleaf Unsui
    • Aug 2020
    • 3716

    #2
    I'm no expert and no teacher, so please, throw salt on my words before you take anything too seriously.

    Sometimes we put expectations on zazen and ourselves, I think, and you even mention reaching a certain point in your sitting and how you think you should feel after sitting. I wonder if maybe once that "silently there" moment arrives you latch on to it so that everything afterwards becomes bothersome for a bit.. sort of like when we spend time in a dark room and then suddenly turn the light on and it bothers us. When we sit, all things are equal, we sit in equanimity, not making distinctions, sort of like when it's night time and things are not distinguishable but when we get off the cushion, it's like we switch on the light and again, the annoying is annoying, the angry is angry etc... That can alter our mood or cause distress if we hope to remain in that "silently here" state. More than once I caught myself having outbursts and then internally scolded myself for not being more "zen" about it. My approach has always been to just let it be, not linger on the "should" I invent for myself and accept my response to the situation as being what it was.

    Just a couple of thoughts reading your post! Sorry for running a bit long
    Gassho
    sat and lah
    Last edited by Bion; 05-13-2024, 12:36 PM.
    "Stepping back with open hands, is thoroughly comprehending life and death. Immediately you can sparkle and respond to the world." - Hongzhi

    Comment


    • Shigeru
      Shigeru commented
      Editing a comment
      I think you hit the mark perfectly. This was my experience when I first started out, whenever my "recently-sat-self" faced the world and others I could definitely go from blue sky to thunder. I think at least for me, I constructed a wall between "sitting" and "the rest of life", and it took time to wear it down and unite everything as "practice"

      Gassho

    • Alyosha
      Alyosha commented
      Editing a comment
      Many thanks. This helps me reorient my approach. I especially like the light analogy. And Shigeru, as well, thank you. The wall between practice on and off the mat isn't something I've considered before, but I definitely see it.

      (By the way, really digging the forum update)

      Gassho
  • Jundo
    Treeleaf Founder and Priest
    • Apr 2006
    • 39205

    #3
    Originally posted by Bion
    I'm no expert and no teacher, so please, throw salt on my words before you take anything too seriously.

    Sometimes we put expectations on zazen and ourselves, I think, and you even mention reaching a certain point in your sitting and how you think you should feel after sitting. I wonder if maybe once that "silently there" moment arrives you latch on to it so that everything afterwards becomes bothersome for a bit.. sort of like when we spend time in a dark room and then suddenly turn the light on and it bothers us. When we sit, all things are equal, we sit in equanimity, not making distinctions, sort of like when it's night time and things are not distinguishable but when we get off the cushion, it's like we switch on the light and again, the annoying is annoying, the angry is angry etc... That can alter our mood or cause distress if we hope to remain in that "silently here" state. More than once I caught myself having outbursts and then internally scolded myself for not being more "zen" about it. My approach has always been to just let it be, not linger on the "should" I invent for myself and accept my response to the situation as being what it was.

    Just a couple of thoughts reading your post! Sorry for running a bit long
    Gassho
    sat and lah
    Good response. I feel it is likely something like this.

    Sometimes, sitting in silence, when we open the emotions again to the world, the world and our emotions can come rushing back in with a vengeance ... maybe like a dog kept locked behind a door who, when the door is open, comes rushing out barking. Something like that.

    Now that there is awareness of this mental phenomenon, recognize it for some mind game, and don't fall into its trap.

    Gassho, J

    stlah
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

    Comment

    • Daiman
      Treeleaf Unsui
      • Apr 2022
      • 668

      #4
      The answers given so far are very helpful, so I do not know if I can add much and whatever I do add, please take with a grain of salt as I am a priest in training. One of the things that can happen when we sit, is that we open up to everything and in this opening, there is a softening. Things settle down and they slow down to a natural pace, not the pace where we can usually find ourselves within the frantic world. While we are sitting zazen, we never leave the world, but we leave the frantic. And so, being thrown back into it, can easily lead us to be reactive. The other thing is that we often encounter people that have not been sitting zazen, and they are at the frantic pace, often hurrying up and making demands, and this can be irritating if we are not careful. It is like being in a turbulent ocean and taking some time to dive below the surface where within the undercurrent there is very little movement and then we once again have to come up to the turbulent surface. In both cases (below the surface or the surface itself) we never left the ocean. It can be through this experience that we clearly see things for how they are. Like in the Xinxin Ming, it says, "...If you want to gain the way of oneness, don't be averse to the six sense fields. The six sense fields are not bad; after all they're the same as true awakening."

      Gassho,
      Daiman
      St/lah

      Comment

      • mdonnoe
        Member
        • Feb 2024
        • 85

        #5
        If I may, I'd like to offer my thoughts on this also, and again - take these with a grain or two of salt, please (I'm merely a student myself).

        You spoke of "getting to a certain point faster" of the "tingly kind of 'here'," which brought to mind what sometimes people talk about and experience in Tibetan / Vajrayana Buddhist meditation, as what they call "bliss." (As in, "I'm 'blissing out' after this meditation!" - a thought often heard in Tibetan sanghas). That kind of "tingly" and "blissful" state can come up naturally at times in meditation, and sometimes meditation students will "chase that high" (and sometimes that's taught or encouraged in Vajrayana). "Bliss" can be attractive and seductive in meditation practice. It feels good, physically and emotionally, and once someone experiences it and can sort of figure out how to get there again, it's not difficult to do. It's seductive, in that it feels like "something special," and feels good, but - many people would experience that same "crash" after the "high," and feel grumpy or "out of sorts" afterwards (like, "why did my good feeling stop? I want it back!").

        Jundo, Bion and Daiman are right:

        Originally posted by Jundo
        Now that there is awareness of this mental phenomenon, recognize it for some mind game, and don't fall into its trap.
        For me, it's been helpful to gently gently gently take my attention away from any "bliss-states" and the seductive chase of them in meditation, and to think of them like any other arising thoughts as" clouds in an empty sky." When I get distracted in zazen, gently gently gently return to grounding practice, like my breath. Then when the bell rings, gently gently gently gassho and rise from my cushion. "Just sitting" is just that - it's not chasing the bliss, nor is it making zazen into a "High and Holy" practice that's vastly different than not-sitting.

        Anyhow, sorry for going long here!

        Gassho,
        Michael
        sat/lah

        Comment

        • Jundo
          Treeleaf Founder and Priest
          • Apr 2006
          • 39205

          #6
          Lovely responses above, from Dai amd Michael.

          Gassho, J

          stlah
          ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

          Comment

          • RobO
            Member
            • Jul 2023
            • 35

            #7
            Interestingly this has been happening to me a bit of late as well. I think it may be a mixture of things, the answers above definitely ring true for me (thank you very much for those!).

            I do other forms of meditation too and notice this happens a lot more with Samatha or more concentrated meditation. I believe in my case my senses are also heightened temporarily afterwards (I have an ASC diagnosis, so this can lead to some challenges). But it feels like sensitivity across the board increases as well through meditation, like I am a more "porous sponge", it feels like it comes from the allowing and releasing.

            Shikantaza has a bit more of a protective element for me (more equanimity involved I think?).

            In the beginner videos Jundo mentions sometimes doing Zazen in noisier conditions. I think this (for me anyway) might help with this post meditation sensitivity. Building up the equanimity muscle (carefully). At any rate, I am going to tread carefully for a while afterwards!

            Gassho,
            Rob

            Sat/lah

            Comment

            • Douglas
              Member
              • May 2017
              • 51

              #8
              Originally posted by Alyosha
              It seems like the opposite thing should be happening, but lately I've noticed a bit more irritation, a quickness to anger, in the half hour or so after sitting. I'm currently sitting twice a day ~20min and this a recent development.

              My zazen has lately taken on a new dimension, as well. I find myself getting to a certain point faster than I used to. It's difficult to describe, but I'm through what I call the "initial chatter" and into a tingly kind of "silently here", then the bell rings. I think I need to up the time, but that's another discussion.

              I get surprised at myself when the irritation happens. I should be feeling much less of that, not more. Has anyone experienced anything like this before?

              Gassho,
              A

              sat/lah
              It seems to me that when you say “you should be feeling much less of that” you might want to accept what you are feeling and not expect anything. It’s hard I know, but it’s the attitude I orient myself to while in zazen (and while in every day life when I remember)

              There is a good podcast from the Denver Boulder Zen Center that was recently reposted called “Effortless Effort”. It’s quite good and I think is pertinent to what you said


              Comment

              • Jundo
                Treeleaf Founder and Priest
                • Apr 2006
                • 39205

                #9
                Originally posted by Douglas

                It seems to me that when you say “you should be feeling much less of that” you might want to accept what you are feeling and not expect anything. It’s hard I know, but it’s the attitude I orient myself to while in zazen (and while in every day life when I remember)

                There is a good podcast from the Denver Boulder Zen Center that was recently reposted called “Effortless Effort”. It’s quite good and I think is pertinent to what you said

                Thank you. That talk by Rev. Zenki was one of the better explanations of Shikantaza that I have heard. Very nice. Gassho, Jundo

                stlah
                ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

                Comment

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