How to Go From Pissed to Zen in 3 Minutes


From Pissed to Zen

Anger can be a great motivator. It has spawned powerful movements like the Civil Rights Movement, the Women’s Suffrage Movement, and more recently the #MeToo Movement. Anger can be the fuel you need to get healthy, quit a terrible job, or end a miserable relationship. We can think of this as big-picture anger. It’s the kind of anger we need to create change.

Everyday anger is much more common. I’m talking about little irritations that can make you, or those around you, miserable. These little incidents can start to snowball and lead to bad days, bad weeks, bad months, even bad years. That is not what any of us wants.

It’s not all sunshine and roses over here at Petite Surf. I’m a solopreneur, a mom of three, a hairdresser, and a wife. Like most of you, I’m pretty freakin’ busy. I get stressed. I feel annoyed. I have bad days where I think I may just quit everything and go back to being a stay-at-home-mom. Then I remember how tough those days were in a different kind of way and realize pretty quickly that I actually want the life that I’ve created for myself, bad days be damned.

So rather than call it quits, I deal with tough moments head on. Despite what those bumper stickers on Jeep Wranglers may say, there is no such thing as “No Bad Vibes” or “No Bad Days.” There are bad vibes aplenty, my friend, but you can learn how to deal with them so they don’t take over your life.

It’s no exaggeration when I say that meditation changed my life. I first started meditating when I was pregnant with my now 14-year-old daughter. I needed a way to deal with the terror of becoming a mom, and I wanted to put my Irish temper to rest so I could be one of those Zen moms. Ha. Like most parenting plans, that didn’t happen. At least not right away. It’s safe to say that I threw more temper tantrums than my kids did in my early years of parenting. But I knew I wanted to change, so I did the work necessary to shift my habitual state of low-level irritation. I’m still nowhere near being a Zen mom, but I do know what to do when those bad vibes start creeping up.

The first step is to be aware of your emotions at all times, good or bad. You do this by checking in with yourself often. Awareness is the first step to emotional balance. If you aren’t aware of what’s happening in your mind and body, it controls you. You lose your shit. You yell. You throw things. You punch a wall, or worse, a person. Or, maybe you internalize that anger into self-hate.

When I was a moody teenager, and later, a seriously exhausted mom of toddlers, I let my emotions take over. But with practice, I have learned to spot the bad mood before it snowballs. Sort of like a migraine: migraine sufferers know that if you take something at the start of a headache, you can save yourself a lot of pain. But if you wait it out, just hoping it will go away, you may as well call in sick now because you’re going to be in bed for three days.

Get in the habit of noticing your mood go from good or neutral to bad. Here are some clues a bad mood is taking over…

  • Your breathing is shallow.

  • Every little noise sounds like it’s amplified to 10.

  • You’re smiling on the outside, but rolling your eyes internally.

  • You have no energy.

  • You’re impatient with your partner or kids.

  • You snap at those close to you.

  • You start cleaning the house like the Queen of England is planning to visit.

  • You’re cussing out the 98 year old woman driving in front of you.

When this stuff starts happening, it’s time to bust a move - a yoga move.

Here are three ways to go from pissed to zen in under three minutes.

  • Square Breath (Samavritti)

    How to do Square Breath:

    1. Sit comfortably. Breathe in through the nose for a count of four.

    2. Hold the breath for a count of four.

    3. Release the breath through the nose for a count of four.

    4. Hold the breath for a count of four.

    Repeat for 1-3 minutes. You can increase the count to 8 if comfortable.

  • Alternate Nostril Breath (Nadi Shodhana)

    How to do Alternate Nostril Breath:

    1. Sit comfortably. Raise your right hand to your face. You will use your thumb and ring finger.

    2. Close the right nostril with the right thumb and breath in through the left nostril.

    3. Close the left nostril with the ring finger and exhale through the right nostril.

    4. Pause. Now inhale through the right nostril with the ring finger still closing the left side.

    5. Close the right nostril with the right thumb and exhale through the left side.

    Continue to alternate sides, repeat slowly for 1 minute.

  • Fists of Anger (Kundalini Yoga)

    1. Sit in Easy Pose.

    2. Raise both arms above your head.

    3. Make two fists with your thumbs resting inside your fists.

    4. Circle your arms behind you, one at a time, as if doing the back stroke.

    5. Put your mouth in the shape of a circle.

    6. As you circle your arms back, breath in and out of your mouth maintaining the circle shape.

    7. Continue for 3 minutes.

If you’re not calm after these exercises, it’s time to visit your therapist.