Most of the time, there’s very little happening during my meditation sessions. A feeling of timelessness takes over as I sit down and focus on my breathing. Sure, my mind is often agitated, and it seems to enjoy playing whac-a-mole with distractions. But overall, after 30 minutes or so, I just leave feeling a bit more blissed out. It even takes a moment to speed up back to normal, as if I’m coming out of a state of dullness.
Sometimes, though, unexpected feelings of anger, anxiety, or sadness wash over me when I’m supposed to focus on my breathing. I suddenly feel emotional during meditation, and I even started crying one or two times for no real reason. During the past few weeks, I’ve been experimenting with body scanning and I can definitely feel my chest tightening and my heartbeat quickening. Why do these sorts of things keep happening? Why do I cry during meditation?
Meditation Isn’t Just About Feeling Good
As a world-known spiritual leader, poet, and meditation activist, Thich Nhat Hanh has pretty much seen it all. He says that “feelings come and go like clouds in a windy sky. Conscious breathing is my anchor.” Meditation isn’t just about feeling good. During meditation, you let down the barrier keeping you from experiencing your feelings. A deep meditation practice will allow you to fully experience your emotions without them becoming overwhelming.
Conscious Breathing Is Your Anchor
Whenever you start feeling difficult emotions during meditations, follow Thich Nhat Hanh’s suggestion. The first thing to do is to acknowledge your feelings and then come back to something soothing, like your breath. Taking deep breaths will calm both the body and mind, which, in turn, will help you feel less overwhelmed. Do your best to bring equanimity and acceptance when facing the cloudy, gloomy skies of your negative emotions.
Sit With Your Emotions
It’s hard to sit with your emotions, and indeed that’s not what we usually resort to. We stuff our feelings back down by distracting ourselves, or we take them out on someone else. By doing so, we give up on a meaningful experience. If you’re feeling heartbroken, it will take quite some time to heal. But exploring your feelings can help you learn something precious about yourself. Pay meditative attention to your emotions – discovering them as they unfold, moment by moment, without getting attached. At some point, you’ll notice that their grip over you has weakened and maybe even disappeared. You’re re-engineering your relationship with them, discovering yourself in the process.
Crying During Meditation
Your feelings may be so intense that you’ll actually start to cry. There’s no need to worry, crying during meditation is totally fine. It just means that there are pent-up emotions in you that await the opportunity to be released. Acknowledging difficult emotions during meditation will actually help you see your way through them much more quickly.
Whenever we get emotional during meditation we feel like we’re dealing with unwanted obstacles to our practice. The thing is, that in order to stop negative emotions from controlling us, we need to learn to meet them with equanimity. When we’re capable of allowing our awareness to track the impermanence of any emotion, they lose their grip on us.
Let it flow.