"Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned." ~ Buddha
There is a difference between experiencing anger in a moment of conflict and becoming infected with cyclic emotions/perceptions of anger.
It is definitely possible to fully experience anger in a particular moment and yet also peacefully retain sanity. Mindfulness practice is the groundwork for such altered ways of relating to our emotions.
However, your obstacle isn’t just momentary anger. Some people are hot-tempered but don’t hold grudges. Others are more quiet but may hold grudges for years. Each merely requires a different but similar means to heal from it.
When you find yourself so angry that you can’t sleep, you’re clinging to something. Typically it is some form of unforgiveness. It is easy to overlook the monumental importance of forgiveness.
When we forgive, the first and most direct thing we can forgive is this moment. Regardless of who is to blame for what, it is the present moment that is life and any pain we are experiencing happens in the present. So first you forgive the moment for being whatever it is.
Of course, this is like a guppy forgiving a tsunami. The moment is going to do whatever it is going to do regardless of our forgiveness. But our forgiveness is like the guppy swimming with the current of the tsunami rather than against it. Forgiving the moment allows us the equanimity and clarity to ride its wave.
Things may not always happen according to our liking, even for seemingly vast periods of time. But that doesn’t mean that there is no work for you to be doing. If there is anger, there is your spiritual path. If there is love, hate, jealousy, infatuation, fear, confusion, whatever, that is the rich soil of your path.
So begin with forgiveness. Be willing to work with the moment and the circumstances you are being given. Once a degree of peace and love are unearthed within, you can begin to honestly forgive others for their own ignorance and the suffering it causes.
A brief meditation technique:
1. Sit and breath naturally. Have your back supported. Don’t be lying down (otherwise you may fall asleep.)
2. Let your attention surround the feelings of anger. If there are thoughts that arise as to whose fault is what and so on, shift your attention away from them and back to the anger.
3. Discern the texture and quality of the anger. Where do you feel it? Is it in your bones? Gut? Chest? Head? Does the anger feel hot or icy, piercing or raging?
4. Keep your attention on the experience of anger, breathing naturally. Don’t indulge any thoughts about the anger or any stories as to why the anger is there. Just feel the anger in its entirety but without losing your sanity and conscious presence.
5. A moment will come in which you can let the fire of the anger burn itself out. Without your cyclic thoughts and self-justifications, the anger will abate. Let this happen. There is an urge to self-indulge almost in the way that self-pity loves to feed on itself. To a certain extent, it feels good to suffer. It’s like scratching a mosquito bite until it bleeds. It may feel good but it’s not healthy.
6. Sit with whatever feelings arise after the anger dissipates.
You will need to do this as often as the anger arises. It helped me greatly over the years.
I would also highly recommend the book The Places That Scare You by Pema Chodron.