Author Topic: The role of emotions in meditation  (Read 1838 times)

Cyath

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The role of emotions in meditation
« on: August 31, 2016, 10:27:00 AM »
Has anyone tried to meditate while experiencing powerful negative emotions? (anger, fear etc) I find that it helps to gain some clarity and perspective, but sometimes the emotions are too overwhelming and I have to stop meditating.

I think that over time meditation can help with emotional control, but I also find that sometimes it is actually right NOT to meditate and to let out our emotions in other ways.

What are your experiences?

Re: The role of emotions in meditation
« Reply #1 on: August 31, 2016, 01:31:25 PM »
Meditation helps to be in the moment and look at the emotion instead of getting pre occupied by the object of emotion.

BeHereNow

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Re: The role of emotions in meditation
« Reply #2 on: August 31, 2016, 03:21:57 PM »
I agree that at times, trying to meditate when in the midst of powerful rage, fear or depression can be problematic, especially at the beginning.  I had this problem when I first sat 10-day courses and tried to stick with the 2 hour practice, I went deeper into depression and it caused all kinds of trouble.  I think the reason that happened is that at some level I was resisting the emotions, and didn't have a strong enough container of acceptance and awareness to work with them effectively.

I now find that a gentle yoga and pranayama practice before sitting can be helpful, as well as reading a page or two of some inspiring mindfulness literature (I love Pema Chodron).  Then when I sit with the powerful emotions, I can do so with a spirit of curiosity and care, rather than aggression and trying to get rid of the emotions at some subtle level.
"You are the Sky.  Everything else is just the weather." - Pema Chodron

Suited4Battle

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Re: The role of emotions in meditation
« Reply #3 on: August 31, 2016, 07:34:35 PM »
I have sat when I was very frustrated, anxious/stressed and its a diff experience but I think still worthwhile and I always felt better after

and I can relate to depression becoming stronger bec of meditation and specifically when I have increased my sitting time but I also notice other positive affects, like more awareness,,it seems that sometimes meditation increases these negative emotions but other times positive emotions are increased and it seems like this is just a natural process of becoming more aware of your emotions and therefore experiencing them fuller,,,sometimes it seems like I have to take 2 steps back to then go 3 steps forward but as long as I'm heading in the right direction its all good,,, but its always hard to be objective and aware of this when experiencing the stronger negative emotions, thankful for impermanence



Frightful

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Re: The role of emotions in meditation
« Reply #4 on: August 31, 2016, 07:52:35 PM »
@Cyath: "What are your experiences?"

I've had to deal with this quite a bit from adolescence up into my 50s.  First, I'll just say that I think emotions have a role in life rather than in meditation.....they are an intelligence and guide just like many other faculties.  Since meditation brings greater awareness, it can make sense that emotions can intensify during meditation since we may be growing more aware of emotions that we have been trying, sometimes for years, to keep *out* of awareness.

Some years ago a therapist put me onto meditation as one leg of leading a more emotionally healthy lifestyle and I came to this site because the style of meditation matched what this therapist had recommended.  Nevertheless, I agree that under the weight of intense stressful emotions, it may be good just to sit with those emotions and let them metabolize somewhat before continuing at a later time with meditation.  Although it's too early to assess at this point, this "sitting with" the charged emotions uses elements of a 10-step process described here:  http://pairadocks.blogspot.com/2015/04/the-10-steps-of-emotion-processing.html     Although it is a bit of a sluggish read, there are good approaches here I feel to digesting heavy doses of emotion as a process healthier than just minimizing or repressing those emotions.  So although I don't point-by-point go through all 10-steps with my processing, it offers some structure for making sense of the emotions that might be hijacking our days (and/or nights).  Others may find that this structure can work within their meditation, but I prefer to proceed with the meditation after sitting with the more troublesome emotions first and then maybe later that day or the next day, getting to the meditation.  Those emotions may still arise during the meditation, but then they are dealt with just like any other emotions....observed non-judgmentally, but not capitulated to.  Don't know if this is useful in any way, but may offer some angles to try. 

Cyath

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Re: The role of emotions in meditation
« Reply #5 on: September 01, 2016, 08:57:17 AM »
Thanks for all your replies. I have not had the time to look at the webpage yet but I shall make sure I do eventually.

Powerful emotions can sometimes unbalance me when I start meditating, and I also agree that it may not be the best idea to start when your mind is that agitated. I also feel the unconscious push to
displace or "get rid" of emotions that I do not wish to feel, instead of sitting with them in a quiet space. I think it may also be a matter of mood...when I'm very down I have to sometimes give myself permission to just be upset and not meditate on that. It feeds back into my "trying too hard" habits. Kind of a balancing act. :)

I appreciate the sharing and will think on what everyone has said here.

Meditative

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Re: The role of emotions in meditation
« Reply #6 on: September 02, 2016, 11:54:47 PM »
In my experience I like meditating and going straight into the pain when a negative emotion is triggered. I find when I sit and deeply observe the emotion with total acceptance and allowance of the experience then the emotion releases spontaneously. If the emotion is too strong to not resist (I tend to resist anger more than other emotions) then I release it a bit by moving my body. For me going on jogs, sprinting, or lifting weights helps calm me and raise my vibe enough to the point where I can comfortably go back and look at the emotion.

stillpointdancer

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Re: The role of emotions in meditation
« Reply #7 on: September 03, 2016, 11:06:12 AM »
Has anyone tried to meditate while experiencing powerful negative emotions? (anger, fear etc) I find that it helps to gain some clarity and perspective, but sometimes the emotions are too overwhelming and I have to stop meditating.

I think that over time meditation can help with emotional control, but I also find that sometimes it is actually right NOT to meditate and to let out our emotions in other ways.

What are your experiences?

You are right. Meditation is a long term solution to the problems of emotional control, but not always a suitable activity when you are in emotional turmoil. I guess you have activities such as listening to music, or jogging or something like that for when you can't meditate. Sounds sensible to me.

I do a similar thing, having learned over the years that the best time to meditate is when things are going relatively smoothly, so that when things do go pear-shaped you can put meditation on the back burner. You at least now have a mind that has the benefit of all that meditation to deal with stuff, until things settle down and you can get back to regular practice. Of course, if this goes on for more than a few weeks I'd try to get back to some form of regular meditation, if only once or twice a week.
“You do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait, be quiet, still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.” Franz Kafka

Laurent

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Re: The role of emotions in meditation
« Reply #8 on: September 03, 2016, 12:37:02 PM »
Has anyone tried to meditate while experiencing powerful negative emotions? (anger, fear etc) I find that it helps to gain some clarity and perspective, but sometimes the emotions are too overwhelming and I have to stop meditating.

I think that over time meditation can help with emotional control, but I also find that sometimes it is actually right NOT to meditate and to let out our emotions in other ways.

What are your experiences?

I prefer peace.

 

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