Khaas Baat : A Publication for Indian Americans in Florida


Lavanya Dinesh

By DR. Maulik Trivedi, MD

Of the many struggles in life we all go through none is more challenging than those regularly going on inside ourselves. They’re the ones that cost us health, happiness and relationships. I'm talking about the effects of our negative emotional reactions: anger and fear.  

Most of us feel angry one time or another, and we'll likely continue to do so. Likewise, fear is an emotion familiar to us since very young age. Anger and fear hit us when we least expect it. Then usually the anger makes us do destructive things and the fear paralyzes us from taking necessary action.

If we could overcome such reactive states of our own mind, we could have a totally different experience of our life. We definitely could experience happiness and peace more often.

However, from our own experience, we can likely agree that it’s easier said than done. Our lack of control over our fear and anger is the single largest obstacle in our path to success and happiness. What to do? Is there a way?

The first step is to train ourselves to observe our anger and fear instead of reacting to them. These negative emotions cannot be addressed directly because the more you pay attention to them, the larger they grow. Hence, “conquering” fear and anger is a misnomer. These emotions can only be overcome through surrendering. Slow and deliberate effort to letting go is the easiest and most proficient path, with time, to winning over our own anger and fear.

In the Hindu belief system, a deity embodies the attributes of overcoming fear and anger. He is commonly known as the monkey-god. He also is given attributes of wind. His name is Hanuman. Shree Hanuman-ji is known as sankat-mochan, which literally means “the one who removes obstacles or hurdles in our life.” Can you guess why the deity associated with wind is given this distinction?

The answer lies in our breathing, a form of wind itself. When we’re either angry or afraid, our breathing trends to become rapid and shallow. Between our breath and our thoughts, the whole episode of anger and fear is then orchestrated. Thoughts of anger and fear trip the switches that turn on the body’s circuit for manifesting our emotional feelings and behaviors. Not only that, our body is listening to our thoughts and releasing chemicals that create our physical experience of being angry or fearful. Our mind and body work together to create a flood of chemicals and toxins. That’s what makes us explode in anger and feel paralyzed by fear.

Shallow and rapid breathing is the natural physiologic response that manifests during periods of anger as well as fear. It is also through self-regulation of such breathing that one achieves equanimity of the mind. Yes, becoming conscious of your breathing and regulating it to a slow deliberate pace decreases anger and fear. Deep breathing works by removing the toxins in the body that create and perpetuate anger and fear. It also slows down and eventually removes the thoughts at the root of our anger and fear. Over time, with regular practice, it helps the mind keep those switches turned off.

So, the next time you catch your monkey-mind misbehaving with anger or fear, simply bring Shree Hanuman-ji to your attention, focus on your breathing and take a few deep breaths. Every time you do it, you’ll be a step closer to getting rid of fear and anger. Namaste.

Maulik K. Trivedi M.D. is board-certified in general adult psychiatry, and child and adolescent psychiatry. He specializes in the MindBody approach to behavioral health at Florida Medical Clinic and can be reached at (813) 973-1304.

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