You may already be aware of the fact that meditation can make you happier and improve relationships with others, as well as achieve a significant amount of focus in your life you only had dreamt of before.
However, something that often gets in the way of a proper meditation is how we see things, and how we let the mind sway us through emotions because the idea of meditation is so disliked by the mind.
The mind believes it constantly needs to think things, and while it’s true that a mind can’t be completely blank, taking a step back without judgment of thoughts is what allows us to grow in all senses. Now, what’s the correlation between meditation and emotions?
Can it actually make you less emotional or perhaps more emotional? The answer is a bit more complicated than a yes or no since it will depend on the person.
For the most part, meditation expands the scope of your emotions, allowing you to feel them deeper without necessarily being swayed by them and thus, making decisions that are backed by emotion rather than logical thinking.
We will explore some instances where meditation influences emotions and whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing.
Meditation allows us to connect with our truest selves by synchronizing the mind and the body. Upon doing that, we will many times be presented with imagery that’s either pleasant or unpleasant.
For beginners, it tends to be unpleasant because some of these images are memories we want to keep at bay, because they can be so traumatizing.
The explicit process of working through these unpleasant memories to no longer be affected by them is known as shadow work, which, in a way, if these thoughts or repressed emotions become too overwhelming, an individual may be stepping into the dark side of meditation.
At the time of meditation, you may react to this until you learn to become comfortable with that part of you and then handpick which emotions you want to have once you become better at managing them, or at the very least, not be swayed.
Full control over our emotions is difficult, but not being swayed by these is achievable through meditations that are as short as 20 minutes, where we condition the mind to remain in a mindful state by default. Scientists have used meditation in conjunction with MRI machines to physically detect changes in people’s brains, and meditation has been proven to change the brain.
For instance, a lot points to the idea that frequent meditators were less reactive when observing aggressive scenes as opposed to those who didn’t meditate regularly.
We learn to be more accepting of things and see things for what they are, a philosophy that’s also shared with Nirvana.
Repressing our emotions makes us live in denial and don’t make the emotions disappear on their own, but not everyone is ready to face these emotions because there can be a confrontational side to meditation where inner parts of ourselves stand as antagonists and put us to the test when as far as mental strength goes.
Frequent meditators are often perceived as calm because they’ve learned to coexist with parts they’ve previously repressed in themselves, expanded their scope of emotions, and applied the same principle to other aspects of their lives where they would otherwise be driven by emotion.
In this case, we can often see that what happens in our surroundings that’s within the borders of our control is often a reflection of what we have inside and what we feel.
The less swayed you are by something external that’s out of your control, the greater freedom you have in your life.
Letting Go of Emotions
The act of letting go of an emotion that often starts as negative starts with recognizing such emotion is there, to start with. We simply can’t change something we deny the existence of.
Meditation for this very reason is seen as uncomfortable for this reason, which is why it’s often synonymous with stepping outside of the comfort zone to expand that same scope of comfort, allowing us to move more freely and be less affected by things.
One of the very core purposes of meditation is our detachment from what doesn’t serve us any purpose, such as stress, anxiety, fear, as in lifting off dead weight and allowing us to carry on without clouded judgment which we’re often swayed by during hard situations.
A lot of people don’t tend to think rationally during stressful situations, it’s hard to take a step back if the concept of stepping back hasn’t been normalized by the mind.
Meditation makes this the new normal, taking control and making you re-think before you do a certain thing that may have repercussions.
The discipline meditation gives us allows us to live in the present while simultaneously making decisions that have a better impact on our future, in this case, letting go of an emotion is a process that becomes easier over time, the more we engage in this improvement cycle that meditation is that physically modifies the brain to make it easier to pick what suits you and what doesn’t.
The Correlation Between Emotions and Meditation
While for a sizeable majority, meditation makes them feel more compassionate and better at connecting with others, who meditate also has an impact on whether a person becomes more emotional.
On the surface, it can seem like we become more emotional because of the fact that there’s more room for emotions to express themselves and there’s less of a chance we’re cornered by emotion and ultimately forced to give in to that.
But for others that don’t have the capacity to feel emotions, it becomes harder for meditation to make them feel emotions if it’s a completely foreign sensation to them, and in this case, I’m referring to empathy.
Not everyone who meditates uses it for good, although it’s not so frequently heard of for people to use meditation for evil, even if in theory, it’s possible. There are meditations that are explicitly tailored to make us more emotional and compassionate, such as loving-kindness meditation.
However, being emotional and being kind is not the same thing, even if they are often closely put together. The good thing about being what some see as less emotional is more for your own good, in not being swayed by your emotions or being affected by emotions.
That way, you’re better able to help yourself and thus, better able to help others when emotions would’ve otherwise gotten in the way and swayed your decision-making in a certain direction.
It’s not that meditation will make you make less morally sound decisions, but rather, it will make you more mindful of said decision and when it’s under the influence of an emotion that may just be temporary, to begin with.
When starting out with meditation, the mind uses various techniques of psychological warfare to dissuade us from continuing the meditation, which is why for many, starting and staying, as well as transitioning from short-term meditator to long-term meditator is the hardest part.
Pushing through this stage conditions your mind to be less reactive to a specific emotion, something the mind often seeks.
Your reaction when meditating can determine the quality of the meditation and determine whether you’re doing it properly. A mind that’s influenced by emotions often defaults to overthinking, which gets in the way of achieving a profound meditative state.
So, if experiencing emotions at a larger range without being affected negatively by emotions sounds like an attractive idea to you, meditation is likely the right practice for you.
Knowing yourself as a person will aid you, however, in tailoring the meditation to closer align with what you want it to be, considering that, in the grand scheme of things, meditation can be anything. While each meditation session can be subjective, many share the same gains when it comes to their emotional life and the freedom they experience.