Ready To Let Go Of Anger & Resentment? Meditation Can Help
We humans have a tendency to relish in the pleasure that comes with blaming others. It’s an old habit for most of us, so please be gentle with yourself if that’s where you are right now. But let’s be careful about getting trapped in a cycle victimhood. While there is a place for anger and rage, those emotions are only useful if they inspire you to take positive action. Otherwise, we are simply drinking poison and expecting someone else to fall ill.
Holding on to blame, hate, and anger only hurts the person feeling those emotions, not the person they are directed toward. Luckily, the fastest ways to let go of those old negative emotions is forgiveness. It's important to understand how resentment may be negatively affecting your mental and physical health and learn about powerful tools that can help change your brain chemistry and allow you to forgive and move on—once and for all.
The science of resentment and how it affects your health.
In a recent study, psychologists observed 71 people. For the first 15 seconds everyone in the study was shown triggering images meant to evoke feelings of resentment, followed by five seconds of images meant to soothe the mind. Those focusing on resentment had a collective increase in heart rate and blood pressure up to 250 percent after just four seconds. Four seconds later, as they redirected their thoughts toward empathy and forgiveness their heart rate and blood pressure dropped by 200 percent. Those who consistently focused on empathy and forgiveness had heart rate and blood pressure levels 150 percent lower than those focusing on resentment and hate.
According to a study conducted at the National Center for Biotechnology Information, holding on to resentment and hate can mean heightened blood pressure and heart rate, which can lead to:
- Chronic emotional distress
- Eroded health
- Cardiovascular reactivity
- Impoverished sleep quality
- Production of stress hormones such as cortisol, which can lead to any number of serious health issues.
Conversely, forgiveness promotes immediate feelings of peace and well-being and supports cardiovascular health.
Forgiveness, meditation, and your brain.
OK, so what does forgiveness have to do with meditation? Two words: gray matter. Two years ago, researchers examined a particular part of the brain and discovered that the more gray matter the person had, the more likely they were to forgive those who have made a serious mistake. Scientists detected significantly larger gray matter volumes in meditators in the right hippocampus. Both orbitofrontal and hippocampal regions have been implicated in emotional regulation and response control. More gray matter in the brain accounts for meditators' ability to cultivate positive emotions, emotional stability, and engage in mindful behavior.
I love giving people tools to optimize their emotional intelligence and made it my life goal to bring powerful healing practices to as many humans as possible and eradicate unnecessary suffering. Holding grudges (even small, secret grudges) is not an effective strategy for that. To start, download this incredibly powerful 15-minute visualization on the power of forgiveness. It will give you a clear idea about who you want to forgive, what you want to forgive them for, and how to "cut the cord" so you can take your energy back from the event or person and use it to fuel your own happiness and personal goals.
Psst: Emily teamed up with mbg to create a class on guided visualizations. Check it out here!