fbpx

Tips for Managing Emotions in Meditation

Allowing Emotions

The more you resist and judge an emotion, the more intense and unpleasant it becomes, potentially creating emotional phobia. We need to be willing to stop the blame, self-pity and resentment and feel the anger, fear, sadness, denial, loss, sorrow, or grief.

Avoid judging your emotions or getting connected to your thoughts about them, i.e. the story that came with them. It is usually the story that we tell ourselves that is worse than the actual emotion we originally felt, causing us to ruminate about it even more.

By sitting in relaxation with an open heart we can bring awareness to our feelings, allowing them to unfold as needed. This way we can accept, release or integrate emotions, then transform them into personal growth.

Both positive and negative emotions can coexist. They do not need to make sense or follow a logical pattern.

“One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the dark more conscious.” (Carl Jung)

 

Emotions in the Body

Emotions can make us feel physically uncomfortable, e.g. pounding heart, tightness in our chest, feeling sick in the tummy. They can manifest as a physical sensation or feeling, e.g. being emotionally exhausted can make your body feel sore, weak and tired.

Repressing or resisting emotions can prompt excessive thinking, shallow breathing and muscle tension, which can all contribute to disease and illness. Repeated patterns of thoughts, feelings or physical pain, tend to be some part of you that is asking for acceptance.

Healing involves facing the emotional wound and the physical sensations it manifests (with self-compassion), rather than justifying your story in self-defence.

“Like a broken bone, our hearts can grow stronger when they heal.”

 

Emotions in Meditation 

A meditation myth is that meditation is used to block or repress emotions. Sitting still for long periods, can bring up strong thoughts, feelings and emotions, as you are not distracted by “doing” and being busy.

Focussing on something like your breathing (i.e. using mindfulness meditation) can lessen the intensity of the emotion. Sit and be aware of what physical sensations arise, accepting them with self-compassion and just allowing them to be.

Cry if you need to or go for a walk to allow the energy to shift and release – it is much easier to still your mind once any feelings have been given the attention they need. If you find that a feeling stays present for any length of time or you are feeling overwhelmed with emotion, it is important to seek additional support via counselling.

“When we ‘take the one seat’ on our meditation cushion, we become our own monastery. We create the compassionate space that allows for the airing of all things – sorrows, loneliness, shame, desire, regret, frustration, happiness.” (Jack Kornfield)

emotions in meditation

Colour Breath Exercise

  • Sit crossed legged on the floor or on a pillow or on a chair with your feet flat on the floor.
  • Keep your back nice and upright but shoulders relaxed.
  • Let the muscles across your forehead, around your eyes and in your jaw relax.
  • Place your hands palms facing upwards on your thighs.
  • Take a deep breath in through your nose and out through your mouth, closing your eyes.
  • Then let your breathing flow naturally in and out through your nose.
  • Notice the feel of the air as it enters and leaves your nostrils.
  • Notice the feel of the air as it flows up and down throat.
  • Begin picturing that with each in breath you breathe in a cool blue colour, the colour filling your throat with each breath.
  • On each out breath, picture you are releasing any stuck emotions from your throat (your breath changing to another colour as you breathe out, e.g. grey or black).
  • Notice the feel of your chest as it rises and falls gently with each breath.
  • Begin picturing that with each in breath you breathe in a cool green colour, the colour filling your chest with each breath.
  • On each out breath, picture you are releasing any stuck emotions from your chest (your out breath changing to the colour you chose).
  • Notice the feel of your belly as it inflates and deflates with each breath.
  • Begin picturing that with each in breath you breathe in a warm red colour, the colour filling your belly with each breath.
  • On each out breath, picture you are releasing any stuck emotions from your chest (your out breath changing to the colour you chose).
  • Was one colour a stronger sensation than the others for you?

FOR MORE TIPS AND EXERCISES FOR MANAGING EMOTIONS CHECK OUT OUR MINDFULNESS MEDITATION FOR BEGINNERS ONLINE COURSE