Meditating with Emotions

By  Tergar Meditation Community• 5 min read


Emotion in motion

Emotions can be so intense. Sometimes it can feel like they’re in the driver’s seat, careening wildly from one extreme to the other, and all you can do is hang on for dear life and pray you don’t crash. Nevertheless, they can be an excellent support for meditation.

Feeling the feelings

The moment you perceive something you like, pleasant sensations manifest in your body, and unpleasant sensations show up when you perceive something you dislike. Physical experiences always come with emotions, whether they are fluctuations in heart rate or skin temperature, tightness and tension, or relaxation. No need to try to change any of this, either. In emotion meditation, anything is okay. Awareness is big enough to hold any emotion.

 Awareness > emotion

Awareness is like the sky that can accommodate any weather. It allows any sensations and emotions to come and go. Think of them as weather events: sometimes there’s a pink sunset or twinkling stars, sometimes a dark and stormy night, but the nature of the sky itself doesn’t change. In the same way, the essence of awareness is not influenced by darkness or tumult. Even if, emotionally speaking, there’s a Category 5 hurricane going on, awareness remains free, pure, and genuine.

Getting space

Because we’re not in the habit of recognizing awareness, it’s easy to get lost in emotional tempests. When big feelings come up, we often cry, “I need some space! I need to get some distance!” Yet space can often feel hard to come by when we need it most. It’s important to understand that you don’t need to look for or make space — watching your emotions creates space in and of itself. It’s a bonus, an excellent byproduct.  And, if you’re trying to watch an emotion and it seems to disappear, that’s fine too. Be with that.

Keep it manageable

Watching emotions, using them as a support for meditation, is how to make friends with them. Learning to do this is a wonderful process, but be aware that it is a process. You can’t necessarily make friends with super-intense emotions right out of the gate. Figuratively speaking, you need to start with rain showers before you can tackle hurricanes. Start with emotions you find relatively manageable. If a feeling is too overwhelming to watch, practice with one that feels less “hot” for you. Once you practice for a while with emotions that you can handle, soon enough you’ll find yourself thinking “Oh, hey, I can do this” even with those hurricanes.

“Every movement of the mind, and every emotional reaction, is still just a small wave on the vast surface of awakened mind.”

– Mingyur Rinpoche –

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More Resources:

In this video, Mingyur Rinpoche teaches us how to work with emotions and gives us advice on how to experience a sense of space and openness in the midst of difficulties. 

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About the Author

By Tergar Meditation Community Team

Tergar Meditation Community supports individuals, practice groups, and meditation communities around the world in learning to live with awareness, compassion, and wisdom. Grounded in the Tibetan Buddhist lineage of our guiding teacher, Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche, our online and in-person programs are accessible to people of all cultures and faiths, and support a lifelong path toward the application of these principles in everyday life.

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