Regulate emotions when meditating

How to Deal With Extreme Emotions During Meditation


When we are in the process of doing our meditation practices, we tend to have many different experiences. Some people see white light, others have strange sensations and almost out-of-the-body experiences, and others experience really strong emotions that almost overwhelm them.

All these happenings can take us away from our sessions and divert our attention to other things that may make us lose the essence of the practice and fail to proceed with it as we should. That is why we should always seek to manage them every time they come up as we meditate and remain focused on our sessions all the way to the end.

Here, we are going to see how big emotions affect us during meditation and how we can handle them properly so that we can keep our sessions going fairly smoothly and ensure we benefit from them as much as we possibly can.

When Overwhelming Emotions Take Control During Meditation

There are many things we experience in life that throw our emotions out of balance, whether it is at work, school, home, or when we are generally out and about.

When we receive rejection news of a project that we have been working so hard on and which we were hopeful would work out and take our career or financial situation to the next level, we are bound to be deeply sad for a while. When we receive the sad news of the passing of one of our loved ones, we get broken down emotionally.

When we wake up early to hit an interview for a dream job and then miss it due to traffic or because our cars broke down or due to other unavoidable circumstances, we feel disappointed. When the end of the month is approaching and we have not yet gathered enough money for our rent or other critical bills, we begin feeling anxious and stressed. All these emotions we feel that are often accompanied by racing thoughts related to the issue we are having can weigh us down and prevent us from having an interactive meditation experience when we sit down to meditate.

The natural reaction that comes when we begin experiencing heavy emotions is trying to resist them and ignore them so that we can go on with our meditation practice. However, the more we resist them and try to put them aside, the more they persist and the more they affect us. That is why we should aim not to resist them but manage them.

Fortunately, there are quite a number of different ways we can manage our strong emotions. Let’s have a look at them.

How to Manage Strong Emotions When Meditating

1. Be Compassionate to Yourself

Being compassionate to yourself when you are having a surge of emotions can help you tone down what you are feeling and help you come to a good balance. Self-compassion normally works with a series of uplifting attributes that help with the management of the emotions we feel are overwhelming us.

Take a scenario where you are about to get into a serious interview you know can help you land a job that can totally transform your life and help you achieve your lifelong dreams. You are in the waiting area alone. The receptionist comes and tells you that the manager or the interviewing body of the company will be ready to see you in about an hour. At that moment, countless thoughts are going through your mind, your heart is beating hard on your chest, you are feeling hot, anxious and you are probably trembling too. You then decide to meditate for about 10 minutes as you wait.

In such an instance you can apply self-compassion to help you feel better, more confident, and ready to ace the interview. What you should do is first be mindful of your thoughts, feelings, and sensations. Ask and answer yourself these questions, what thoughts I’m I having right now? What sensations and feelings am I experiencing at this moment?

After that, remind yourself that you are not the only person in the world to ever be in the situation you are in. Thousands, if not millions, of other people have been in the exact same situation you are in right now, and maybe there are a few out there who are waiting to get into the same kind of interview you are about to get to as well.

Then, reassure yourself. Use affirmations to increase confidence, calmness, and peace within yourself. Repeat in your mind phrases like, “I am well-prepared for this!”, “I can do this!”, “This job was meant for me!” and “I will pass the interview!” among other similar phrases you know have a deeper positive impact on you.

2. Work With The Loving-kindness Meditation Concept

Loving-kindness meditation aims to build the virtues of genuine love, compassion, and kindness towards ourselves as well as other people including people we love and care about, people we feel neutral towards and people we have a strong dislike for.

Since most of the emotions we experience are usually caused by ourselves or other people, we can send good wishes to ourselves and others, as loving-kindness meditation recommends, which can help us reduce the intensity of emotions and bring us to rest, and allow us to continue with our meditation sessions with relative ease.

3. Use The Counter Emotion Technique

This technique, just like the two above, aim to neutralize the strong emotions you are feeling by aiming to bring about thoughts that provoke emotions that are almost opposite to the ones you are having.

Here, if you feel extreme levels of sadness that doesn’t seem to go away, you should think about one of the happiest moments of your life. If you are feeling anxiety, think about the most confident moments of your life. If you are feeling stressed, think about the calmest moment of your life.

As you think about those moments, aim to relive the experience and imagine how it felt during that moment. As you are doing that, the new emotions you are introducing will help bring down the negative ones that seem to overwhelm you and you will feel much better and balanced.

4. This Too Shall Pass

This is a favorite phrase used and recommended by many experts on bringing back the bigger perspective of our lives and our destiny as human beings.

It is a phrase that helps to ground us when are having extreme emotions that are positive or negative. It reminds us that nothing lasts forever and we shouldn’t be worried so much about what we are experiencing because it will come to an end just like the others in the past have.

One day we won’t be alive and that day is not so far from now. And remembering this fact and letting it sink in our minds for a while helps us not to be carried away too much by the things that are happening around us and it lessens the effect and intensity of the emotions within us.

5. Use Breath as Your Anchor

Having something to use to help you handle the racing thoughts that amplify your feelings and emotions can help you get away from the infinite loop of turmoil that both your thoughts and emotions can cause you.

When you are meditating and you have big emotions that won’t give a moment of peace, your thoughts are also always adding to the emotions you have and making things worse. So if you can manage to first reduce your thoughts and then be aware and manage your feelings, you can get back to a safe place of good balance.

To achieve that, you have to use an anchor that brings you back to the present moment and redirects your focus and attention from the things that are overwhelming you to what is happening in the here and now.

Your breath is the best anchor to work with. The process of inhalation and exhalation and the act of observing it can help master your emotions. Any time you feel the emotions are getting the better of you, and you notice it, just gently bring your attention back to your breath and keep it there for a while before you proceed with your meditation practice.

6. Align Yourself With Your Emotions

The idea behind our emotions is that they will always keep coming and going, rising and falling. If in this particular case they have risen and they are high up there, you should not stop them from following their natural rhythm. Instead, you should use mindfulness to align yourself with them in a way that you allow them to flow without affecting you.

Being aligned with your emotions involves being aware of them without labeling or judging them but by simply observing them. You seek to be aware of the emotions without interfering with them. This act helps give you the chance to not only let them flow as they should but also keep them away from influencing and overtaking you.

By accepting the emotions as part of human nature and constantly observing them, you notice that they self-regulate without your help. Your awareness of them makes it possible for you not to be overwhelmed by them and also reduces their effect on you.


In essence, emotions are always going to be there and we are going to be naturally affected by them, but we have the choice and freedom to change that especially when we are meditating so that they don’t get in our way and affect the quality of our meditation sessions.

You can choose any of the techniques above, one or more, which you feel sit well with you and which you can apply easily in your meditation sessions and begin working with them consistently. It may take some time before you fully master how to apply the technique and in turn benefit fully from them but with determination and patience, you will eventually get there.

Which technique do you feel is going to have a more positive effect on you? Please let us know in the comments below. 🙂


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