Our emotions arise when we react to people or situations that have an affect on us, but we also create our own emotions by being hard on ourselves. If we give ourselves a hard time when we are unable to do something or call ourselves names when we make a mistake, we end up constantly criticising ourselves for not achieving what we hoped to. We might have certain expectations that we try to live up to, but we may be unable to live up to them, so we get angry, frustrated and annoyed, which leads to all kinds of challenging emotions.

Difficult emotions can sometimes seem too overwhelming to deal with, but with meditation you can begin to face those emotions and see them in a different light. Instead of waiting until challenging emotions arise, you can start to focus on them now. Remind yourself that no matter what the emotion is and how big and difficult it seems, it is still just an emotion, this can make them seem a little easier to deal with.

With practice you can start to recognise and work with your emotions, so they don’t overwhelm you. For example, you can visualise an image that creates an emotion that you want to work with and by staying detached you can look at it, acknowledge it, understand it and let it go. Think of emotions just as thoughts, notice them, without trying to suppress them, allow the feeling to surface and then release. With practice you can really begin to feel more in control of your life, feeling more balanced, relaxed and happy even in difficult situations. This is due to feeling confident enough to deal with your own emotions and release them without fear.

The French pharmacist Emil Coue believed that your thoughts become reality, so if you think sad thoughts you will become unhappy and if you have anxious thoughts you will be tense, so he found that if you replace those thoughts with positive, healing images, you can become happy and relaxed.

To create these positive thoughts you can visualise a calm and relaxing place, such as a beach, meadow or mountain and begin to notice the smells, sounds and sights around you. As you wander through your imagined landscape your thoughts are calm and your body begins to relax.

Using positive visualisation can really enhance your relaxation, so if you use images of calm and peaceful places this creates feelings of happiness and security, these emotions and images are sent to the subconscious, which automatically starts to tell the body to relax.

“Look at strong emotions as a kind of storm. If we know weatherproofing techniques we can come out of it in tact. If we master the ways of calming and steadying our mind, we can pass through the storms of emotion with relative ease.” (Peace is every breath, Thich Nhat Hanh)

Emotional Mindfulness Meditation

  • Sit in a comfortable position
  • Begin by focussing on your breath, breathing into the belly and observing the gentle rise and fall of the breath.
  • Start to count each exhalation, inhale, exhale one, inhale, exhale two, etc until you reach ten, then start again from one.
  • If an emotion should arise label it, such as happy, sad, scared, excited, fearful.
  • Accept the emotion and return to the breath.
  • Continue to be aware of any emotions without being involved in them and finish the meditation when you feel ready.

(Adapted from The Meditation Bible – emotional mind meditation)

This is a nice easy way to come to terms with your emotions and feel relaxed through breathing, however I really like the Buddhist meditation that soothes and heals your heart.

The Tibetan book of living and dying describes “A Heart Practice”, where you invoke in the sky in front of you the presence of an enlightened being, feel their presence deeply and invoke their infinite power, compassion and blessing. Once you have done this you can open your heart and let all your pain and suffering out, crying if you need to. Feel that the enlightened being is fully there for you, showing you their understanding and filling you with love and compassion.

You may like to continue with a mantra such as:

OM AH HUM VAJRA GURU PADMA SIDDHI HUM (click the link to listen on Soundcloud and read more about this mantra to a guru or enlightened being here: https://www.wildmind.org/mantras/figures/padmasambhava)

This mantra has been used for centuries to bring purification and protection, but it is your choice, you can use it or choose to move on to the next part – filling the heart with bliss.

Imagine that the enlightened being in front of you responds with all their love, compassion, wisdom and power, sending out a beam of light to your heart, see this light as nectar, filling up your heart and transforming your suffering into bliss.

You will be left feeling amazing after this and even if you are not a Buddhist you can practice this meditation and enjoy the feelings of love and bliss that it leaves you with – just beautiful.