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Anger and Rebellion: Noticing Sensations

Updated: Jul 13, 2023

In this week’s Torah portion, Korach, Korach accuses Moses: “You have gone too far”.

He challenged Moses’s leadership and accused him of elitism, he continued to say, “All the community is holy, all of them, and G-d is in their midst. Why do you then raise yourself above the congregation?” He was jealous of Moses’ position and authority.

It is human to be jealous.

There were times and opportunities when Korach could have stepped back to gain some perspective and process his feelings, to assess the situation in a different manner.

Jumping to conclusions about someone else without knowing all the facts is destructive to relationships, such as when parents, at the height of their anger, punish their children.

The word for "nose" in Hebrew is af, and the word for Anger is charon-Af/flared nose, for when people get angry, their nostrils flare. G‑d is called Erech Apayim, literally "long-nosed," to describe His patience, as a loving father is to his child who errs.

So perhaps, the best advice when angry is to focus on the breath, specifically through the nose. When one feels the fire of anger ignited, it's a good idea to breathe in through the nose.

In other words, practice mindful meditation. Maybe Korach should have done some mindful breathing practices.

A 2016 study that researched anger and its physiological manifestations showed that people made angry by the researchers became much calmer, as evidenced by lower heart rate and blood pressure, after only 20 minutes of meditation, even if they had never meditated before.

Practicing meditation can help protect our bodies and minds from the harmful physical stress of anger. It is possible that people who choose to do meditation long-term are more likely to be less reactive in the first place.

Emotions show up in our bodies. We have all had butterflies in our stomachs when we are nervous or a feeling of warmth in our chest when we are touched by someone or something.

It can be more helpful to attend to the physical sensations in the body connected to emotions, rather than thinking about those emotions. Why? Because physical sensations don’t move as quickly as thoughts, so they’re easier to hold in our awareness.

They shift and change. And simply noticing the sensations in our body can provide us with a kind of grounding that can calm us down.

We’re going to do a practice of noticing sensations in the body. I will leave spaces (with no talking) for you to take a moment and observe sensations in your body.

We’ll begin by finding a comfortable place to sit on a chair, on the floor. It doesn’t matter where you sit, but the attention that you bring to the practice. So wherever you can be the most awake and attentive. We’re going to be paying attention to body sensations. Placing your feet on the floor, your hands on your thighs, and sitting upright in an alert and comfortable way.

Noticing how your feet feel on the floor, noticing your hands on your thighs, and noticing the contact that your body makes with the chair, the ground or a cushion. Noticing your spine, if it’s resting on the chair or slightly off your chair.

Observing your breath and what it feels like to be breathing in this moment.

Bringing awareness to your physical sensations as you inhale, and as you exhale.


And noticing your breath and the air entering and leaving your body.

Can you feel the air as it enters your nose? Is it warm or cool… Focusing on the temperature of the air as it enters your nose and leaves your nose. ( Pause)

Paying attention to the sensations in your chest with each in-breath and each out- breath.

Perhaps Contracting; expanding? Tightness; heaviness, lightness, a sense of flow…… Just noticing . pause

And now focusing on the stomach as the breath goes in and out.

What sensations do you notice there? Being curious about whatever you are noticing in your body right now. Expanding, contracting….. queasy, butterflies, knots,

lightness, calm?

And now noticing your clothing on your body.

Observing where you feel your clothing: is it tight or loose? Rough or soft?

We’re going to take a few moments to notice what’s happening in your body and any sensations arising, or falling away. Sensations such as: warmth, /heat, clammy or sweaty, coolness, dryness, tingling, prickly, trembling ,an itch, heaviness , tension, stiffness, or perhaps numbness, relaxed..

Take a few moments now to scan your body from head to toe (or toes to head) PAUSE

And now bringing awareness to sensations in one place in your body– your face ,

your chest or stomach; your back or legs…….

As you notice a sensation arising in your body, you can move your awareness to that sensation. For example, you become aware that you have an ache in your right knee. Move your awareness to the sensations in the right knee. Observing if the knee is it hot or cold?

Then maybe that sensation starts to fade, and you notice another sensation, this time an itch on the ear. Maintain your stillness and be aware of the itch. As this passes, another sensation might arise. Taking another moment and observing any and all sensations

You can widen your focus by noticing sensations coming from different places in your body, and also narrow your focus by paying attention to a specific place in your body when you notice a sensation.

Being mindful of physical sensations in the body can help you to become more connected to your body. You can start to differentiate between discomfort, and pain. It also helps with relaxing the body, as when you scan your body, you start to notice areas of tension and can start to allow yourself to relax.

Another advantage of noticing your bodily sensations is grounding yourself in the “now” -in your present reality as experienced through your body. This practice helps to achieve this groundedness in the present.

Taking a moment to appreciate taking care of yourself in this way.

While most of us don't get angry enough to incite rebellions like Korach, we can benefit from making an intention to continue with this practice.

You can listen to this on Insight Timer:

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