Meditation for working with emotions

When we meditate, we’re training the mind to acknowledge and accept our experiences in the moment, gently and without judgment. This includes emotions of every description, and so recognizing and working with emotions is an essential part of meditation training.

Many people become interested in meditation because of unwelcome feelings of stress, sadness, grief, jealousy, anger, resentment, and so on. Indeed, we are repeatedly caught up in avoiding unpleasant emotions and clinging to pleasant ones. The Buddha taught that our fixation on emotional states is a source of suffering. Understanding how emotions function, what they produce, and how to work with them can lead to well-being and freedom.

In meditation, a watchful distance is created between any emotions that arise and our tendency to grasp, reject, or ignore them. Focusing on the breath, for example, lays the groundwork of mental stability that supports this watchfulness. Or we may observe the physical sensations that accompany emotions instead of allowing our minds to be caught up in the stories the emotions elicit.

In some forms of meditation, awareness of emotions may be actively used to gain direct insight into their nature and the nature of the mind that produces them, or to foster compassion and an experience of interconnectedness. In metta, or lovingkindness, meditation, awareness and goodwill are used to generate heartfelt aspirations for peace and well-being, both for ourselves and for the countless beings that share our world.


Tricycle is more than a magazine

Gain access to the best in sprititual film, our growing collection of e-books, and monthly talks, plus our 25-year archive

Subscribe now