Feelings in Meditation

A key tenet of mindfulness is to acknowledge the positive emotions we have, but also equally important the anger, fear, aggression and other powerful emotions that factor into our conscious. Being with these emotions, both good and bad is critical to us finding compassion and an open-minded thought process— in turn being mindful of everything we are feeling.

Putting a direct label on your emotions can be a positive step in feeling the emotion but then also that emotion dissipating. Just as in meditating, when you acknowledge what you are thinking, label it, it will often float on throughout your stream of consciousness. Then back to the focus on your breath. Witnessing these emotions, and for that they are: thoughts. Vision helps to see things for what they are. There are times when we are stressed, and thoughts pile on each other. There is a snowball effect if we don’t see these things for being emotions in the moment.

As it relates to labeling emotions, you don’t need to get too complicated. “Feeling feeling” or “wanting, wanting” or “hunger, hunger” is often enough. The important thing is to sit and feel it. No doubt, there will be another thing behind it. So to be with that feeling for a moment, and acknowledge it will allow it to be present, and pass. The important piece to this process is that you do not have to act on any of these feelings. This creates freedom in your confidence of how you respond, or in choice not to. It can be quite liberating. Being patient with your mind is very powerful. It also allows you to delve deeper into what is creating that emotion or feeling. If you are feeling angry, and label that feeling, you may be able to think about what is creating that feeling just before the feeling. For example, if you are feeling angry when thinking about going to work, what is it about going to work that is driving that condition?

What is the cause that creates that situation?

Feeling emotions also helps us to realize how they affect our body. When you meditate and label a feeling, you can also interpret how it affects your breathing and where you feel it. As you hone your technique, you’ll be able to feel where certain emotions affect you. Does your breathing change— do you feel it in your heart— does your stomach feel it? When an emotion comes on, your familiarity with it will be on a different level if you have already witnessed it in meditation.

Some common feelings that may arise during meditation to alleviate you from feeling different:

• Doubt: “I cannot focus, my mind is always wandering and this isn’t for me”.

• Restlessness: “I cannot sit still, this 2 minute span is doing more harm than good for me”

• Sleepiness: “I’m too tired to meditate. There will be a better time on another day”

These are all common and all things you need to work through, as an individual. Just like when you go for a run or do a physical activity, there is always resistance. The answer in meditation is to continue with what your intention was, and to proceed through the session with grace and patience. Do not judge yourself, or be negative. Instead, acknowledge the situation, focus on your breath and continue on. This is all normal and ok.

Additional Sources:

Sensing Energy in Meditation

Signposts of Progress in Meditation

Moments of Transcendence and Peak Experiences in Meditation