Yes, it is normal to get emotional during meditation! But I understand why you may wonder because emotional healing is not often talked about together with meditation. For me, however, emotional healing became part of my meditation story.
During the time I worked on Wall Street in New York City, I felt disenchanted with life. I felt incredibly disconnected, lonely, and depressed.
All of this was a result of how I functioned in the world, growing up in an Asian household I learned to have a tough, strong exterior. Having emotions and expressing them was to me, a sign of weakness.
I prided myself on not being emotional. Instead, I always kept it together. In fact, before I came to meditation, I hadn’t cried in over a decade. That took a toll that I didn’t realize was happening. Everything I felt was completely bottled up. Eventually, this led to serious depression.
The Emotions Flowed
When I finally hit rock bottom, I taught myself how to meditate from a book, counting my breaths down from 10 to 1. For the first three months, I cried every time I sat on the cushion. I just sobbed and sobbed. The tears flowed and sometimes I didn’t even know what I was really sad about. It seemed like I had lifetimes of grief.
Meditation got me in touch with what I was feeling. I hadn’t given myself permission to feel. I had no idea about the tension, stress, and feelings I had pushed down.
Each time I sat, I felt so much better after every session of meditation. I felt much lighter. It was cathartic. Even though I cried a lot, intuitively it felt like the right thing to release so many old emotions. As a result, I started feeling more joyful and passionate — something I hadn’t felt since I was a child.
The Strong Emotions You Feel
Reconnecting to that sense of innocence is an opportunity in meditation. If you’re developing a healthy spiritual practice, it goes hand in hand with intense emotional feelings, healing, and release.
So if you are experiencing sadness or grief or anger or rage — any strong emotions during your practice — it’s natural. Sometimes being emotional is thought of as being messy, crazy, weak or even unprofessional. But it’s good that you’re allowing yourself to feel your emotions. Being genuinely in touch with your emotions and having self-awareness requires true inner-strength. It also helps you develop your emotional intelligence.
Where Do Our Emotions Rise From?
So why do our emotions come up? When we’re meditating, we create space to feel, and our deeper truth begins to percolate. That is why a lot of people don’t want to slow down, unplug, rest, and meditate. They don’t want to feel the truth of what they truly feel inside.
People often feel out of control when their emotions arise. Once we start to cry and feel sadness, there can be fear that we’re going to get depressed, get lost in that depression, and never find our way back again. We’re afraid that our emotions will overcome us.
Unfortunately, we have not been taught in our society to value our emotions. Most especially for our men who are afraid to be vulnerable and become a target of attack and judgment. So what ends up happening is that we divert our emotional pain. When we start to feel upset or angry, we project that anger outward and unleash it, unfurl it onto someone else, making them the reason for our pain and suffering.
Feeling & Healing
Emotional healing is critical to the evolution of human consciousness, individually and collectively.
When we recognize anger rising inside us because of something another person said, we realize we have to face our deeper feelings and emotions. Our emotions are energy in motion. We need to recognize what we are feeling.
Unfortunately, we have indeed been taught to keep a lid on it, shut it down, and save it for later. When we put our emotions to the side, what we’re doing is stuffing it into ourselves, and it starts accumulating in our pain-body.
Pain-body is a term coined by Eckart Tolle. It’s all of our unfelt emotions and wounds. When we don’t take the time to process what we’re feeling about something, it accumulates in our system and adds to our unconscious wounding, including our stress and anxiety. Anxiety is a symptom of bottling and repressing our authentic emotions — when we shield ourselves from feeling and letting people in — we feel stress, tension, and anxiety.
When we cut ourselves off from our emotions, we can lose touch with life, ourselves, and our life force energy. The truth is that when we cut ourselves off from sadness, we also cut ourselves off from joy. Whatever we’re repressing impacts all parts of our lives. Depression is a word that indicates the pressing down of our spirit, of our energy, not allowing it to flow, and not allowing it to move or come through.
We need to make space for stillness so that we can get in touch with our deeper truth. It’s essential to allow those emotions to move through you, just like waves, to move in the ebb and flow. By feeling and getting in touch with our power and our energy, we become liberated.
Think of how you feel after you cry or have another emotional release. Do you notice how much better you feel? It’s cathartic. Your whole body experiences a release. You feel relief and wholeness.
Emotional Intelligence & Intuition
When we cut ourselves off from our emotions, we become more distant and disconnected. That disconnection with ourselves makes us become disconnected from others. It is no wonder our emotional intelligence increases when we are emotionally in tune. We can understand other people better and hold space for them to feel emotions and not take it personally or take it on ourselves.
Intuition also speaks to us through our emotions. When you get excited about an idea and don’t know why, that’s your emotional guidance system, inner guidance, and creative intelligence that knows the right way to go. Your emotions are tapped into a larger consciousness. When you are in touch with your emotions, you can now start to fine-tune and feel more subtly the guidance that flows through your emotions.
Emotions can make meditation feel messy and raw. After meditation and expression of feelings, find a healthy way to express your emotions through writing, art, experiencing nature, or other ways you communicate mindfully. You will be grateful you did!