By Linda Modaro

“Like trusted friends are a safe place to pour out your heart; meditation is, too.”

In life and in meditation intense emotions may elicit self-diagnoses.  As feelings amp up and escalate you may begin to label yourself: depressed, anxious, addicted, co-dependent, suicidal, psychotic, homicidal…. crazy.

A tendency to self-label may be useful at first; you might take a situation more seriously if things have gotten “that bad”.  The label makes things clear so you can enact a plan to get the right kind of help to support your meditation practice.

But over the years inner labels can accumulate.  You may not even be aware of how many you are carrying around in your psyche.  When external events happen that trigger strong emotions, you may be faced with self-loathing, judgment, and shame so that suddenly your self-diagnoses become moral issues.  Meditators may feel a sense of failure with the return of strong, repetitive feelings – “with all of my meditation practice, shouldn’t I be over this by now?,” you might ask?

If your practice aims at noting, replacing and/or diverting these strong feelings rather than sitting with them you may not suspect you can do anything different in meditation.  To question the strategies and techniques learned to quell emotionality does not even cross your mind.

It can be difficult for meditators to question their meditation practice on their own, so you may consider making an effort to find someone else to listen to you on an ongoing basis – a meditation teacher or sangha member, a therapist or a support group to solicit input in how to help you explore your emotional world.

Like trusted friends are a safe place to pour out your heart; meditation is, too.  When someone listens to you, you may have more courage to listen to yourself in meditation without killing off the intensity.  In the privacy of your own mind, sitting still and allowing the space to be honest with your hurts, rants, and rages you can anticipate some unexpected wholesome qualities to arise.