Try for freeTry for free

How to untangle emotional knots

Andy Puddicombe

In this article

  • Question
  • Andy's Answer


I am having a relapse of ME which I thought I had recovered from, I think because of some current life stresses. I was treated for anxiety and sleeplessness with medication last time, but this time I want to try to do without the meds (not least because they are expensive here in Ireland and money is one of my anxieties!). I'm doing Take10 and getting a lot from it (thank you!). My sleep seems to be improving, I'm pacing myself better and just the fact of doing something to help myself helps to step away from the anxiety. My problem is a knot in my stomach which I don't seem able to ease. I am able to get rid of physical tension, but becoming aware of the knot just seems to make it tighter, not looser. I am sure that it's draining me, just like physical tension. Can you help?

blog-blog-ask-andy---a-community-question-27-26 (WP)

Andy's Answer

Hi, and thanks for getting in touch. Great to hear you’re enjoying Take10 and finding it useful in everyday life. Most people have a knot somewhere. Yours happens to be in the stomach, but it can be anywhere. Sometimes people are aware of it beforehand, but for many people it comes into sharper focus when they begin to meditate. Just to be clear, it is not the meditation causing the knot, but rather the meditation providing a clearer lens through which to see it. When we first discover this knot, the temptation is to resist it in some way. After all, who likes the experience of tension? Though it's a very natural tendency, the problem with this approach is that every time we resist it, we create that much more tension, driving a cycle of resistance in the mind and tension in the body. So we need to find a way to observe it without resistance and to step out of the cycle. The first thing to do is to recognize that meditation is not about getting rid of stuff or changing things. Instead, it's about understanding things, seeing them more clearly and, through that process, becoming more at ease with them. So try to observe the knot with a genuine sense of interest and curiosity. What is it? Where is it? How does it feel? What is the quality of it? What shape is it? Is it static or does it move? Is it hot or cold? Is it always there or just sometimes? If you can work with it this way, almost as though it is a friend you are learning more about over time, then I suspect it will slowly begin to change. Most important of all though, this curiosity and objective interest changes our perspective and has the potential to fundamentally change our relationship with discomfort.

Warm wishes,


Try for free
Start your day w/ Smile Sun
Start your day w/ Smile Sun

Be kind to your mind

  • Access the full library of 500+ meditations on everything from stress, to resilience, to compassion
  • Put your mind to bed with sleep sounds, music, and wind-down exercises
  • Make mindfulness a part of your daily routine with tension-releasing workouts, relaxing yoga, Focus music playlists, and more

Annual - billed at $69.99 USD/yr

14 days free

$5.83 USD/month

Best value


7 days free

$12.99 USD/month

Start your free trial
Start your day w/ Smile Sun

Similar articles

Meditation and mindfulness for any mind, any mood, any goal

visual-dotcom homepage editorial hero desktop-general-202001008-kh
visual-dotcom homepage editorial hero desktop-general-202001008-kh


  • What is meditation
  • Meditation for beginners
  • Benefits of meditation
  • Guided meditation
  • Meditation techniques
See more

Get some Headspace

  • Send a gift
  • Redeem a code
  • Student Plan
  • All articles
  • Subscribe
  • Headspace for Work
  • Admin portal login
  • Explore our content library

About Us


My Headspace

    • Terms & conditions
    • Privacy policy
    • Consumer Health Data
    • Your privacy choices
      Privacy Choices Icon
    • CA Privacy Notice

Get the app

  • © 2024 Headspace Inc.
  • Terms & conditions
  • Privacy policy
  • Consumer Health Data
  • Your privacy choices
    Privacy Choices Icon
  • CA Privacy Notice