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Why we sometimes feel emotional when we Meditate…

Let me tell you a story about Alison. Alison had done a little meditation before but didn’t find it easy so decided to try a class. Life was quite stressful for Alison and her blood pressure had got a bit higher than ideal. Her doctor wasn’t insisting on medication yet but was keeping a close eye. She thought that regular meditation might help her to relax and cope better with the stress.
 

Alison turned up at the class feeling nervous but also quite hopeful and pleased that she’d finally got round to giving it a try. She found the class very welcoming. The teacher made her comfortable and explained a bit about meditation and how best to make a start. Some of the other people smiled warmly at her. They were chatting a bit and she got a sense that people came regularly and got a lot from the class.

Alison made herself comfortable. Some relaxing music was playing so she closed her eyes and as prompted took some deep breaths and tried to notice where her body was tense. Her mind kept wandering off but the teacher had explained that she should expect that and that all she needed to do was keep bringing her attention back to visualising the relaxing scene the teacher described.

Alison felt her body starting to relax, even as her mind flitted about. She felt relieved that it seemed like something she could do, something that could maybe help her. She had half-forgotten she was in a roomful of people and was surprised to find that she was almost beginning to enjoy herself. She had never experienced mediation like this when she did it at home. As her body relaxed more she suddenly became aware that she was feeling a little emotional. She wasn’t sure what to do. She was generally quite a private person and found herself trying to hold back tears that she didn’t want to shed in a roomful of strangers. Everyone seemed very nice but she still felt embarrassed. She surreptitiously dabbed at her eyes and wanted the meditation to end. The teacher asked everyone to open their eyes when they were ready and she was glad they were sitting in candle light.

The teacher smiled and asked how everyone had found it. Alison felt awkward but was surprised when one of the other ladies in the group, obviously a regular, said that she must have been having a more stressful week than she’d thought because she’d felt tearful during the meditation. Alison let out the breath she hadn’t realised she’d been holding and listened as the teacher began explaining why this sometimes happens…

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Alison isn’t a real person but she is based on experiences that real people sometimes have in my meditation classes. It’s not something that happens every week but when it does it can feel quite uncomfortable and disconcerting.

Most of us are taught from a very early age to hold in our emotions. Stress and tension in the body, physical pain as well as feeling depressed or anxious can all be signs that we have been keeping too much in. when we take the decision to stop and try to relax it is not surprising that our over-taxed bodies can seize the opportunity to let go of some of that pent up energy and emotion. Holding stuff in uses up energy. It is tiring to our bodies and minds and, although far from the only goal, meditation can be thought of as succeeding if it allows us to let go of some of the burdens we are carrying.

Of course we don’t want to sit and cry every time we meditate and it can feel very embarrassing and uncomfortable if this happens in a class, particularly if it’s your first time and you don’t know anyone. I don’t want to put people off or make them afraid that this is a necessary part of meditation but a lady told me recently that she hadn’t come back to a meditation class after this had happened to her and I found myself wondering if this was because she hadn’t understood why or how really it is a positive thing. Most people who have been meditating for a while will have experienced this themselves or have seen it happen to someone else and will be very understanding.

So if you do feel emotional during meditation it might be that it is simply an opportunity for you to release something in that moment or perhaps it’s a sign that its time to make changes in your life or ask for help. If we never stop and allow ourselves to relax we never give ourselves the opportunity to know if there is stuff in there that could be gently allowed out and then we’ll feel better. 
 

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