Meditation and Emotions

It's a huge myth that any sort of spiritual practice makes us immune to uncomfortable emotions. This could not be further from the truth. Meditation doesn't prevent you from feeling negative emotions, if anything it allows you connection to the full spectrum of human experience so you can choose where you'd like to place your attention.

Emotions are energetic waves in response to certain experiences. Both the experience of the emotion and our actual response may be informed by karma as well as our history of past reactions. But if we look closer, we can begin to see what that emotion holds for us. For example, anger is a great clue that some boundaries have been crossed and is a cue for other emotions that may be lying underneath such as sadness, insecurity and fear. Sadness can be the result of loss (of anyone or anything tangible) or a byproduct of not feeling rooted to our present circumstances. And fear helps us navigate risky situations, but also tells us we may be unprepared for something.

Once we become aware of the underlying root of the emotion, we can then respond from a place of authenticity and empowerment. Even if that choice happens after the blowout or argument, which is where people often get confused. "Wait, that response wasn't so 'enlightened,' what's going on with me?" Meditation, or any spiritual practice doesn't prevent difficult emotions from occurring, it gives you expanded awareness and the choice to adapt.

Our knee jerk reaction to unpleasant emotions may be to control them (the hallmark of ego identification) but they are designed to be transient, on the move so that they may find completion. Trying to control emotions is like trying to block a river - eventually it will leak out in other areas through anxiety, physical ailments or Samskaras (mental impressions). The best prescription for navigation is to first recognize them, and then allow the experience to occur rather than resisting it. Staying with the physical sensation of that emotion will help to move through it quicker rather than become entangled with whatever story the mind may be concocting in that moment.

As meditators, we begin to notice subtlety of distinction within these experiences. We may feel intense anger as well as bliss or calm underneath. And this is one of the hallmarks of expanded consciousness, the ability to hold many things in one's awareness. Through the practice of meditation, we begin to cultivate awareness of who we are beyond the thinking, intellectual mind or even the physical body. And as we progress along our journey, it's like peeling layers of an onion-the awareness of our true nature becomes stronger and stronger, even during times of conflict. This doesn't mean we bypass difficult emotions, if anything, we cultivate the strength to meet them head on, to feel them deeply without identifying with them so that they may move through us and guide us back to the realm of creation again.