Extreme emotion during my meditation

Extreme emotion during my meditation

by Headspace » Tue Aug 26, 2014 7:08 pm


Recently I was meditating and a lot of strong emotion came up. It was during the part of the exercise where we typically start scanning down the body and noticing where any tension might be held. I noticed it in my upper chest and then suddenly I felt very overwhelmed. How should I work with this type of extreme emotion during meditation if it occurs again?

Andy's answer:

Thanks for sharing your experience. Yeah, this is quite normal and very encouraging. Prior to learning meditation it is very common to store up emotion in the body like this. It can manifest in all kinds of way, as heat, as cold, as tension or as pain. It’s not something we do intentionally, it’s more of an unconscious reflex, not being able to or not wanting to process the emotion at the time.

Interestingly, the emotion can be very recent, or very old. It could be the remains of a difficult conversation you had earlier in the day, or something which happened 20 years ago. Sometimes the thoughts associated with the emotion will make themselves known and we will see very clearly what the emotion is in relation to. At other times, it is much less obvious and we may find that we experience some discomfort, perhaps even some tears or anger, with no idea whatsoever as to what it’s all about.

This is the process of letting go. In providing a framework to unwind, we create a safe environment where the mind feels safe to let go. At first we notice just the most gross feeling, the physical sensation. But by bringing awareness to that area, we start to notice more subtle sensations, such as the emotion itself. And in being aware of the emotion, we then create the opportunity for it to release.

Funnily enough, there really is nothing ‘to do’ as such when this occurs, other than to embrace it, allow it to happen, and be kind to yourself when it does. It is this kind of experience which allows us to understand the mind and the world around us in a different way. These simple, subtle shifts, can have a profound impact on our perspective and leave us feeling so much lighter in life. So please be encouraged you are doing all the right things.
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