Riding the emotional rollercoster with meditation

Not my circus, not my monkeys

This is a saying translated from Polish, which basically means 'not my problem'. If you've ever been dragged into someone else's drama, where you secretly can't wait to wade in, then you're not alone. This saying might help you and when you practise mindfulness and meditation, you are helping to tame your emotions, which gives you the space to decide what your next move is.

It means that you could leave the other animals in the zoo to do there own thing and get themselves all wound up if they want to. Saving you the emotional involvement and keeping you positive where you could have been taken into a negative spiral. The realisation is refreshing and empowering. You and your monkey mind are left happy and sometimes a little bit smug.

How does meditation tame emotions?

  1. It allows you to remove yourself from the emotion itself. Become the casual observer, rather than it become all consuming.

  2. You emotions are less likely to erupt like a volcano. You are able to see what might happen, monitoring your responses and taking control.

  3. You can manage stressful situations better. The parts of your brain associated with the stress response are 'trained' not to react as much. No need to approach with caution.

  4. You can make friends with your emotions. When the familiar ones arise, even when they can be unpleasant, you can greet them like an old friend.

  5. Over time emotions can pass more quickly as they are not being supressed and are allowed to be processed.



A meditation for recognising emotions

Yes, this can be an emotional experience, so give yourself a quiet time and space where you will not be disturbed during the meditation and ideally for a short time afterwards if you want to reflect on the experience.

Be kind to yourself and if it becomes too overwhelming, return to following your breath until you're ready to come back into the present moment. In the beginning emotions may seem larger and more uncomfortable, this is normal and the experience will differ as you practise more.

  • Sit in a comfortable meditation position. Close your eyes when you are ready. Take a couple of deep breaths and then breathe normally, not forcing or controlling the breath.

  • After a couple of minute notice what emotions are coming up for you. Notice what sensations there are and where you feel them.

  • Can you fully experience them without pushing them away or getting distracted?

  • Aim to focus on the feeling without adding judgement or trying to change what's happening.

  • Where do you feel the sensation the strongest. Focus here trying again trying not to push the emotion down or away. Perhaps you can say to yourself. "I acknowledge you and know that I'm okay". Whatever it is I'm okay"

  • Try labelling the emotion that you feel. 'Anger' 'sadness' 'jealousy' 'worry'. Just acknowledging it, rather than adding a story to it.

  • Continue for as long you as you feel you want to, perhaps starting with 3-5 minutes and gradually increasing the time.

When you're ready open your eyes and reflect on the experience. How difficult was it. Were you able to see the emotion from a different perspective? How could you respond next time this emotion arises? How can you apply this to your everyday experiences and interactions?

You can also try A Meditation on Anxious Emotions from www.mindful.org

Meditation is not a replacement for any medical advice or medication that you may be receiving or taking. If you do have concerns about your mental or physical health then it is advisable to consult a medical professional.


Meditation and concentration are the way to a life of serenity
— Baba Ram Dass