There is a misconception that when one begins to meditate there will be only feelings of bliss and total relaxation. Here’s the thing, when our body relaxes it opens and when it opens, it may open us up to feelings we have kept stifled or hidden for a long time.
Most of us are wound pretty tight, meaning, we work very hard at keeping our feelings “in check”. We expend a lot of energy being in-congruent, meaning we have unresolved issues that go unaddressed for years, yet we have our happy face on and pretend like we are not hurting underneath. Robin Williams comes to mind, he was such a funny guy, how could someone so funny and magical contain such pain is the question we all grappled with when we learned he committed suicide.
There are varying degrees of sadness and not everyone who feels sad is depressed or living with mental illness. There is however, a significant amount of avoidance and denial, in our culture, of emotions other than feeling good.
Unrecognized and unresolved grief and anger can present themselves as feeling stressed and overwhelmed in life, which leads to the desire to meditate. What our psyche is really saying is, “I need to relax, so I can let go.” Most beginners of meditation do not realize that meditation, aka being still and getting quiet, allows for our parasympathetic nervous system to take us out of survival mode and when that happens we let go.
For us to let go requires, our unresolved “stuff” to become more present. It is usually at this time most people declare mediation does not work, or the ego finds creative ways to block total relaxation with distractions, thereby we never really reach the theta state. Reaching a theta state goes beyond the alpha relaxation state of peace and calm, a theta state opens us up to deeper intuition, problem solving and deeper healing.
Someone going beyond the alpha state of peace and calm may experience emotional releases during meditation. Crying, feelings of anger and/or tearing up during or after meditation is common and not a sign that we have done something wrong. It is a sign that we have done something very right. Apparently we are ready to face some of those unresolved feelings so we can feel freer and more grounded. This is not a time to continue the avoidance and denial patterns that keep us feelings stressed, its time to tap into our creativity and EXPRESS EXPRESS EXPRESS!
If you find yourself triggered by your meditation practice here are some tools to support yourself:
Seek out support from your wellness team; counselor, life coach, body worker
Journal, write out your feelings
Get creative with different art mediums; paint, decoupage, string art, clay, draw, color etc
Sing, chant, hum
Make music with ancient instruments
Use Nature as therapy; hike, garden, fish, gather nature items and create a nature table, bird watch
Talk to a friend, attend a support group
Dance, move your body spontaneously
When I am feeling stressed and overwhelmed I can trace it back to something I am not facing or feeling that is ready to come to the surface. When I am am feeling overwhelmed I meditate to relax so the essence of what I am struggling with can come to the surface of my mind. Once at the surface I can use the tools above to support me.
The next time you are meditating and start feeling emotional, take several deep breaths and and ask yourself if you should proceed. Trust you are held by The Divine and and follow your inner guidance with love and compassion.
Every Sunday at 9 am and Wednesday at 7:30 pm, Chonteau is at Pure Yoga For Life leading meditation group. She also has several guided mediation journeys that can be purchased at her online empowerment and education center, Soul Care U.