Find Emotional Awareness through Meditation

Sitting with feelings to increase emotional awareness.

Using mediation to recall emotional reactions allows you to observer the various physical sensations as they arise in your body, alongside your feelings. This skill increases our emotional awareness. Having this heightened awareness, knowing how our body is responding to an emotion, can later help us identify what we’re feeling. Sometimes just labeling, or being aware of the source of, a feeling will take the steam out of it. Also, when you’re able to identify your emotions, there’s a greater likelihood you’ll be intentional as you react to them. This, in turn, reduces some of the negative physical effects associated with our emotional states. And in doing so, our newfound awareness allows us to release stress and tension that has taken up residence in our body. Downshifting and relaxation, which result from mindfulness and meditation, are crucial elements of self-care.

Using Meditation to Increase Emotional Awareness of Happiness

Use this technique to meditate on feeling joy to raise your emotional awareness.

Begin By Becoming Present and Grounded

Be Extra Compassionate toward Yourself

  • Do your best to let go of everything outside of yourself, drawing your attention inward.
  • Just let go of whatever is occupying your mind – worries, obligations, to do lists, etc.
  • While you’re letting go, and grounding, take your time.
  • It’s important to find a place where you can be fully accepting of where you are, what you’re feeling physically and emotionally.

Increasing Awareness of Happiness

  • Once you’re able to reach a state of relaxation, and detach from any racing thoughts, think of a memory that still brings you joy.
  • While you’re focusing on that joyous memory, notice the way your body is shifting.
  • Revisit the memory, and all of the accompanying feelings.
  • As you become immersed in the past, allow the nostalgic happiness to wash over you once more.

Finding Happiness Inside You

  • As you’re doing this, identify where you feel happiness in your body.
  • Note whether you feel happiness in a single location, or in multiple places.
  • Stay with the memory, take your time.
  • This will allow you to become cognizant of whether your emotions are coming in all at once, or in waves.
  • If your emotions are coming in waves, determine the order in which you’re feeling the different sensations.

Observing How Happiness Feels Physically

Stay with your feelings and reactions, let the emotions run their course and fade away naturally.

One way to release stress is locating, and sitting with, our emotions.
One way to release stress is locating, and sitting with, our emotions.

Using Meditation to Focus on Sadness and Sorrow

Use this technique to meditate on feelings of sorrow to heighten your emotional awareness. It’s important to try this technique when you’re in a good place to handle the feelings it evokes, and your reactions to them. Be sure you are well-rested and relaxed before you begin.

Bring Yourself Into the Present Moment

  • First, find a comfortable, quiet place to sit down.
  • You may want to close your eyes, or focus on something stable.
  • Start by breathing in, through your nose, and out through your mouth.
  • Then, take a few deep breaths into your belly.
  • As you do this, notice your stomach rising and falling with each breath.

Accept Who You Are and Where You Are in the Moment

  • Next, do your best to let go of everything outside of you, drawing your attention inward.
  • Just let go of whatever is occupying your mind – worries, obligations, to do lists…
  • While you are letting go, or grounding, take your time.
  • It is important to find a place where you can be fully accepting of where you are, what you’re feeling physically and emotionally.

Increasing Awareness of Sadness

  • Slowly, and cautiously, take yourself to a memory that brings you sorrow, makes you feel sad.
  • Once you’ve begun, notice the way your body shifts as you revisit your sad memory.
  • If you feel unable to focus on sorrow, revisit the emotion on a different day.

Locating Sorrow in Your Body

  • Shift your focus into your body to locate any feelings you’re experiencing.
  • When you’re ready, try to determine whether you are feeling sorrow in just one, or multiple, places.
  • Sit long enough to notice whether waves of emotion are occurring.
  • If you feel sorrow in waves, remember the order in which you felt various sensations.

Noticing How Sadness Feels

Once again, you’ll want to stay with your feelings and reactions, allowing the emotions to run their course and eventually fade away.

Using Meditation to Make Peace with Frustration or Anger

Use this technique to meditate on feeling frustrated or angry, to raise your emotional awareness. It’s important to try this technique when you’re in a good place to handle the feelings that arise. Be sure you are comfortable and relaxed when you begin.

Breathe Deeply to Center Yourself

  • First, find a comfortable, quiet place to sit down.
  • You may want to close your eyes, or focus on something stable.
  • Start by breathing in, through your nose, and out through your mouth.
  • Then, take a few deep breaths into your belly.
  • As you breathe, notice your belly rising and falling.

Release Your Thoughts and Concerns

  • Once you’re comfortable, do your best to let go of everything outside of you, drawing your attention inward.
  • Set aside anything that’s occupying your mind – concerns, projects, and plans…
  • Take your time while you’re doing this.
  • It’s important to be able to extend yourself compassion and withhold judgements.

Increasing Awareness of Frustration and Anger

Identify the Physical Sensations of Frustration and Anger

Following Your Frustration and Anger

Using Meditation to Get in Touch with Feelings of Anxiety

Use this meditation technique to explore anxiety, but only if you’re in a good place to handle your reactions.

Move into the Moment

  • Sit in a comfortable and quiet place.
  • Either close your eyes, or focus on an object.
  • Breathe into your nose and out through your mouth.
  • As you breathe, notice your stomach rising and falling.
Increased emotional awareness of anxiety can help with relaxation and rest.
Increased emotional awareness of anxiety can help with relaxation and rest.

Open Space in Your Mind

  • Next, do your best to let go of everything outside of you, drawing your attention inward.
  • Just let go of whatever is occupying your mind – worries, obligations, to do lists…
  • While you are letting go, or grounding, take your time.
  • It is important to find a place where you can be fully accepting of where you are, what you’re feeling physically and emotionally.

Increasing Awareness of Anxiety

  • Once you feel ready, recall a time when you were anxious.
  • Most of what causes us anxiety is about the future, rather than the past.
  • If you were anxious about the future, also consider whether the scenario you dreaded eventually occurred.
  • Notice the way your body shifts, as you revisit that thought and the accompanying feelings.

Knowing Where You Experience Anxiety

  • Note where you feel anxious inside your body.
  • Also, be aware of whether you feel a response in a single, or in multiple places.
  • If your physical reactions come in waves, observe the order in which you felt the sensations.

Discovering Anxious Feelings Inside You

  • Anxiety may manifest as nausea.
  • It can also deplete our energy.
  • Resist the urge to ignore or suppress your feelings and reactions during this session.
  • Allow the emotion to remain for as long as necessary to process it.

This technique aids in the discovery of our body’s reactions to emotion. It gives us a chance to sit back and observe our physical responses in a safe and comfortable environment. We are able to reveal the locations of our various emotions within our bodies. It also opens us up to the realization that our emotions gain strength when we fight, suppress, or attempt to ignore them. Acceptance of, and leaning into, our feelings allows us to move forward. This process returns us to a more relaxed and neutral state, both mentally and physically.

Emotional awareness is a skill which can be used to give us perspective, possibly shifting our mood, and turning around a rough morning or even a bad day.

“If you keep your attention in the body as much as possible,
you will be anchored in the now,
you won’t lose yourself in the external world
and you won’t lose yourself in your mind.
Thoughts and emotions will still be there to some extent
but they won’t take you over.”

Eckhart Tolle
The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment

Benefits of Increased Emotional Awareness

Higher levels of emotional awareness allow us to more accurately assess others’ emotional responses and reactions. Understanding how others are feeling increases empathy and understanding, which can help us avoid misunderstandings. When we do come into conflict, emotional awareness can lead us toward repairing damage and healing harm.

Knowing what we’re feeling, sooner rather than later, also reduces the likelihood of responding in ways we’ll later regret. We’re able to remain calm, to pause and reflect on our choices, rather than having emotional outbursts. Understanding what stage, or wave, of an emotion we are experiencing is also valuable. If we’re just beginning to feel an emotion, a few deep breaths may allow us to sit with it, without feeling overwhelmed. If, on the other hand, we’re in the later stages, and the waves of emotion are crashing in, we may need to take a walk, hit the gym, or cry.

Emotional awareness gives us an opportunity to become more connected to ourselves. This leads to greater self-compassion and less self-criticism. Meditation can pave the way for acceptance, awareness, and a willingness to fully experience what we’re feeling, in the moment. And it opens the door to healing feelings we were unable to sit with in the past.

Author profile

Hi! I write books and blogs about wellness and adopting healthy living habits. My first children's picture book, Gabby Makes a Friend, is available at Amazon. I’ve been teaching sociology courses at community colleges since. Beyond work, I'm the proud mother of two beautiful, adult children. I’m a recovering perfectionist, whose hobbies include meditation, cooking, hiking, and yoga.

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