Updated: Jun 26
While emotions may feel draining at times, they are necessary. One of the most basic examples is that we need to feel fear to stop us doing dangerous things. We need to feel happiness to be able to enjoy life.
It's when we start to resist and judge emotions, they can become more intense and unpleasant, causing and creating emotional phobia. Resisting emotions can also cause excessive thinking, shallow breathing and muscle tension, which can all contribute to disease and illness. That’s why it is better to accept, release or integrate emotions, which can help transform them into personal growth and resilience.
Emotions are energy in motion, moving through the body, that need to be felt and released as needed. Feelings are what‘s happening whilst the energy of an emotion is flowing i.e. the physiological sensation of an emotion. For example, you may feel constriction or heaviness in the chest when sad, tightness in the jaw or hands when angry and light and floaty when happy or joyful.
Fear, resentment, and tension usually result in the contraction of muscles and energy, whereas happiness, joy, and calm result in the expansion of muscles and energy.
We can’t control our emotions until we begin to understand them and we can only do that by developing emotional awareness. You can't fix what you don't know is there and this helps us see them in a different perspective. Bringing awareness to our emotions can help:
Reduce anxiety and depression
Increase self esteem and resilience
Improve decision making
Relax and sleep better
Be more productive
One meditation myth is that meditation is used to block or repress emotions or thoughts. Sitting still for long periods, can bring up strong thoughts, feelings and emotions, as you are not distracted by “doing” and being busy.
By sitting in relaxation with an open heart we can bring awareness to our feelings, allowing them to unfold as needed. Here are some ways in which you can work with emotions in meditation:
Focus on something like your breathing (i.e. belly breathing or diaphragmatic breathing) to lessen the intensity of the emotion.
Sit and be aware of what physical sensations arise with the emotion.
Try acknowledging and allowing the emotion rather than trying to fix it.
Avoid judging your emotions or getting connected to your thoughts about them, or the story that came with them.
Name your emotions in the third person as this can help lessen the emphasis, e.g. there is anger in the belly, there is sadness in the chest rather than using “I am angry” or “I am sad” which can emphasise the feeling more.
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.
Try moving up a few spots on the scale of emotions rather than trying to get from feeling something like grief to something like joy in one sitting. For example try going from worry to boredom. Refer to a copy of the Scale of Emotions (from Abraham Hicks) on my website to see the different levels.
In this video I go through 3 steps for releasing emotions you can try with little emotions that distract you.
Other Resources for Releasing Emotions
Listen to my Releasing Emotions Meditation
Enrol in my mini online course - Processes for Releasing Emotions
Download my ebook - Cultivating a Calm Mind (see below)