Before I start using meditation to control emotions, I was full of rage, jealousy, sadness and other negative feelings.
Lack of emotional control
Not only does a lack of emotional control cause psychological distress, but it also causes social nightmares.
When I was fourteen, I was at a friend’s mother’s funeral when I suddenly felt overcome with emotion. But instead of crying, I laughed out loud. The old lady next to me glared at me in disgust. I felt ashamed and embarrassed. I hadn’t meant to be offensive. It was my emotions coming out awkwardly.
Awkward social moments like these are commonplace for the billions who are unable to control their emotions.
“Your ability to regulate emotions affects how the people around you perceive you,” says Susan Krauss Whitbourne PhD, professor of psychology at the University of Massachusetts . “Laughing during a meeting will lead to resentment. Reacting with rage to bad drivers will provoke the wrong kind of attention.”
It seems we could all do with learning how to control emotions. Meditation and similar techniques can help. You can use meditation to control emotions, control anger, overcome fear, and even to stop being neurotic.
Best Meditations For Emotional Control
Scientific research has proven that meditation improves emotional control (see the research below) and can also increase emotional intelligence
1: Simple guided meditation for emotion control
First of all, the practice of mindfulness increases emotional awareness.
In the 2015 research paper Benefits Of Mindfulness Meditation On Emotional Intelligence, General Self-Efficacy, and Perceived Stress Peerayuth Charoensukmongkol (2015) wrote that mindfulness meditation improves emotional intelligence in these ways:
- Promotes recognition and awareness of our own emotions
- Helps us recognise other people’s emotions
- Strengthens our ability to control our emotions
Mindfulness, said Charoensukmongkol, heightens our ability to determine which emotions are helpful for different situations, such that we can access appropriate emotions at the right time. So not only can we control emotions, we can productively use them.
For instance, if we are at work and feeling casual and overly relaxed (emotions more suitable for home) we can be aware of these emotions and take the necessary steps to change the.
Vipassana is another of the best meditations for emotional control. This is a Buddhist method in which we label our emotions. Studies show that regular practice of Vipassana trains the mind to recognise emotions and to titrate our emotions such that, for instance, if we are feeling excited when we should be feeling productive, we can make the necessary adjustment.
4: Body Scan
Body scan meditation heightens our awareness of physical sensations in the body. One of the first places we notice emotions is in physical sensations such as a tight chest or clenched teeth. By being mindful of these sensations, we increase emotional awareness. To practice body-scan we lie down and gradually pass consciousness down the body from head to toe and then back up.
5: Focused Attention Methods
To be more aware of other people’s emotions, try focused-attention meditations such as samatha. These train the mind to focus on an external object instead of being lost in thoughts. This enables us to see how someone else is actually feeling rather than getting lost in our own ideas of what is happening.
The following meditation combines these techniques into one single method. This is a powerful meditation for emotional intelligence.
6: Meditation For EQ (Emotional Intelligence)
- Sit comfortably with good posture
- Take five deep breaths to relax
- Focus on your breathing. Let thoughts come and go while you rest your mind on the breath
- Continue to meditate on your breath for 25 breaths. This will take you to breath number 30. By this time, you will be feeling relaxed and focused.
- Continuing to focus on your breath, start to label any emotions you feel. Say to yourself, “This is happiness”, “This is stress” and so on. This increases emotional awareness.
- Should strong emotions arise, return your focus to your breath and continue meditating in a relaxed way. Notice how you are able to control your focus even despite the strong feelings. This will increase emotional regulation. Continue up to breath 60.
- Begin to focus on physical sensations. Focus on the crown of your head and notice the sensations there. Then slowly move your focus down your body, noticing any tension as you go. This heightens emotional awareness even further. This stage should take 40 breaths.
- Take 8 final breaths to relax.
- Express gratitude for this meditation.
This technique combines body scan with vipassana with anapanasati for a powerful meditation. Emotional intelligence increases with the continual practise of this technique.
7: This Mindfulness Method
This is the best meditation to control emotions (for evidence, refer to the research below). It only takes ten minutes. Be aware that this may temporarily make you more emotional in certain situations, such as if you are dealing with grief.
- Find a quiet spot where you can sit or stand comfortably with your eyes closed.
- Set a timer for twenty minutes.
- Adopt a position which is relaxing but in which you also feel ready and alert (best choice: kneel or sit crossed-legged).
- Focus on your breath. Simply allow your mind to settle on your breath coming and going in and out of your nose.
- You are now doing a basic meditation.
- Continue to focus on your breathing and notice any thoughts or emotions that occur.
- When you feel an emotion, do not fight it or indulge in it. Let it be.
- Observe the emotion. Notice how it feels. Observe the pure energy that is emotion.
- Name the emotion
- Let the emotion go and return to focusing on your breath.
- Note: You may notice that you are crying during meditation. It’s normal. Don’t worry. Especially if you have painful thoughts or painful past memories.
8 Benefits Of Meditation For Controlling Emotions
There are many emotional benefits of meditating.
One of the main advantages is that meditation improves emotional control. It is such an effective way of managing our feelings that many mental health professional ever recommend using meditation for bipolar disorder.
Meditation improve emotional control by increasing self-awareness, which is the conscious awareness of our own emotions, thoughts, actions, and character.
When we are more aware of our feelings, we are more able to control them.
Thankfully there is a straightforward way to improve your self-awareness: simply name your emotions, which is a method used in the Buddhist meditation practise called Vipassana.
By naming our feelings, we significantly boost our self-awareness levels, and this enables us to control our emotions.
Brain scans have shown that when we associate negative emotions with words, we calm the emotional centre of the brain . This is cited as being one of the main reasons why meditation is one of the best emotional control techniques because when we sit and focus our minds, we become more aware of our feelings. The best meditation for this is Vipassana.
Vipassana is a Buddhist meditation for emotional control. It involves mindfully observing our emotions and labelling them. This develops insight. We become more consciously aware of what is happening in the mind. This awareness, in turn, increases our ability to control our feelings.
Scientific research on vipassana
Research by UCLA psychologist Matthew Lieberman showed that naming emotions causes the right ventrolateral prefrontal cortex region—an area associated with thinking in words about emotional experiences— to become more active. At the same time, activity in the amygdala becomes calmer, which decreases stress and anxiety. 
A second study conducted by Michigan State University highlighted neural evidence proving that mindfulness helps us control negative feelings. 
The team invited 68 female non-meditators to spend 18 minutes doing a guided meditation. Immediately after this, the participants viewed disturbing pictures, such as a bloody corpse. EEG scans recorded the emotional responses of the participants. The participants were asked to observe the pictures either mindfully or “normally”. The results show that women with higher levels of mindfulness had higher emotional control than the rest of the group. The researchers state that this proves mindfulness meditation helps us to control emotions.
So if you want to know how to control emotions, start by labelling your feelings.
1. Meditation improves relaxation
This is one emotional benefit of meditation that surely requires absolutely no proof. We all know that mindfulness makes you more relaxed. But if you would like to read more about meditation and relaxation I recommend the article on Mayo Clinic for which you can find the link below.
The Mayo Clinic tells us, “During meditation, you focus your attention and eliminate the stream of jumbled thoughts that may be crowding your mind and causing stress. This process may result in enhanced physical and emotional well-being.”
Source: Mayo Clinic
2. Settles restless thinking
Do you ever suffer from a restless mind? Oh wait, silly question, you’re human, of course you do. But the good news is that one of the emotional benefits of meditation is the end of your restless mind.
When you meditate, you create inner stillness and quietude that is conducive to a calm mind.
Source: Personal experience
3. Improves peace of mind
Is it me, or can it be a challenge to keep your mind tranquil and pure? There are so many sources of stress and so much information flying through your brain that you need to take care of your else you could suffer mental health problems.
A restless mind stops the flow of prana and leaves you feeling exhausted and emotionally rocked.
Sri Sri Yoga teacher Shriram Sarvotham says, “We cannot directly force or demand peace-of-mind, but we can prepare the mind to become still.” Meditation lets you prepare that inner stillness.
4. Helps us find purpose in life
This one is from personal experience and also from many friends and teachers whom I have spoken to through the years. The general consensus is that when you meditate you remove the noise in your mind and you begin to zero-in on what truly matters, which gives you a sense of purpose that is conducive to emotional wellbeing.
5. Allows us to discover consciousness beyond ego
Have you ever experienced a moment when it felt like you stepped outside of yourself? Perhaps you saw a wonderful scene, like an eclipse or a stunning sunset. And it took your breath away. And for a moment you forgot yourself and felt as though you were one with the universe. That is an example of living beyond ego.
The average person filters reality through their ego. They have their concepts of good and bad. They think about things only insofar as it pertains to them. They do not allow the universe to exist in its purest sense.
When you practice mindfulness, you silence your mind and come to experience the pure reality of existence. It is a heightened state where you live in equanimity and complete tranquillity. And it is one of the most pleasurable emotional benefits of meditation.
6. Improves synchronicity with life.
One of the good things about meditation that is hard to prove as fact is the idea that it increases synchronicity.
Synchronicity is all about moments when things happen out of the ordinary. For instance, you and your friend happen to send each other texts out of the blue at the very same time. Coincidence? Or something more? Very difficult to prove either way.
Licensed clinical psychologist Robert Puff PhD says, “I believe that synchronous events happen more often when we’re meditating. Why? Here’s my theory: The central goal of meditation is to help you slow down, quiet your mind, and be still. As you develop your practice, as you learn to slow down, and as you quiet your mind, you may find that synchronous events begin to increase. Because meditation is such a powerful change agent and improves your life, I sometimes wonder if the universe or God is giving back to us to let us know that we are on the right track and remind us to keep meditating.”
7: Emotional Benefits of meditation for forgiveness
Another way meditation will help you is by promoting forgiveness. Forgiveness is one of the most important traits in the world
When you practice mindfulness meditation, you give your mind a chance to stop. This lets you take an emotional breather and gives you the chance to look at your emotions in a new light. You then become conscious of your personal prejudices and of any resentments. Research has shown that when you are mindful of your emotions, you increase emotional control, which helps you to stop feeling angry at people and to forgive them.
Source: Own experience and from teaching meditation.
8: Mindfulness and Vipassana makes you emotionally wiser
People tend to assume that wisdom comes from old age, even though this often is not the case. And many other things can make you wise. Meditation is one of them.
The study “The Relationship between Mental and Somatic Practices and Wisdom” confirmed that meditation would make you wiser. The researchers studied 298 participants and asked about their experiences in the Alexander Technique (which is used for good posture), the Feldenkrais Method (a form of somatic education), meditation and ballet. The participants also completed a psychological questionnaire to determine how wise they were.
It turns out that meditation makes you wiser. But interestingly, so does ballet. The researchers also looked at which meditation practices were best for wisdom. They found that the best meditation techniques for wisdom are Vipassana and mindfulness.
9: Stress control:
Because people with high emotional intelligence levels know how to control emotions, they are less affected by their feelings, including stress. Stress makes us think negatively, and this can lead to a bleak view. Emotional intelligence helps us step back and say, “This is my stress speaking”. That way, we can cut-off our stress at its source, before it alters our perspective.” Meditation improves emotional intelligence and thereby let’s us step away from stress.
Self-awareness is our ability to recognise and understand our own emotions. To do this, we need to be mindful of our feelings (both positive and negative). Mindfulness gives us more emotional control because we are aware of the fact that our emotions are influencing us.
11: Better relationships:
The number one cause of arguments in relationships is a misunderstanding, and the number one cause of misunderstanding is a lack of emotional awareness. When we are unaware of either our own emotions or the other persons, we are likely to respond unhelpful ways. High EQ increases our emotional awareness so that we can react to situations in helpful ways.
12: Emotional regulation:
Scientific research by UCLA has proven that when we label our emotions, we increase emotional control over them . This ability to label emotions is essentially EQ.
One of the benefits of high EQ levels is that it enables us to recognise our feelings and the effect those emotions are having on us, handing us back control.
Empathy is the ability to feel what other people are feeling. High levels of empathy enable us to anticipate the actions and behaviours of others, and this can help in everything from negotiating to conflict resolution.
14: Social skills
85% of good social skills come from our ability to understand the emotions of other people. In other words: EQ. High levels of emotional intelligence enable us to understand and to interact with people more effectively. And that’s relevant in everything from business to dating.
Scientific research shows that people with high emotional intelligence levels are better performers.
90% of top performers have high levels of emotional intelligence. And only 20% of bottom performance have a high EQ.
Travis Bradberry, the co-author of Emotional Intelligence 2.0, tells us:
You can be a top performer without emotional intelligence, but the chances are slim. Naturally, people with a high degree of emotional intelligence make more money—an average of $29,000 more per year than people with a low degree of emotional intelligence.
If you want to make more money, train your emotional intelligence.
On average, people with high EQ levels make $1,000 more per annual salary.
16: At work
The better you are at handling other people, the further you will go in your career. That’s one reason why so many people are starting to meditate at work because meditation improves emotional intelligence (see below).
My personal experience
A few years ago, I went through an extremely emotional time. I broke up with my girlfriend and didn’t have anywhere to stay (I had left my home in England to live with my girlfriend in Canada, and then we broke up, leaving me nowhere to stay and without the money needed to get home, i.e. I was homeless). This was an extremely stressful and emotional time of my life and a time when I needed mindfulness more than ever.
It can be hard to balance your emotions when things like that happen. At such times, you need to rely on every strength you have. One strength I have always had is meditation, which I’ve practised for many many years.
How I Managed My Emotions
1 ) I gave my brain and my mind breathing space to relax, which helped to balance my brain chemistry.
2) I gave myself the power to accept what had happened (the breakup) and not to be so emotionally sensitive to my current reality.
3) I completely silenced my thoughts. I’d been thinking things like “I’ve ruined my life” and “I’ll never have a good relationship,” and “Now I’m homeless and have nowhere to go, I’ll probably starve”. Obviously, these were painful thoughts. They made me extremely emotional. But through meditation, I was able to silence these thoughts and get a grip on my emotions. That was the number one time when I used meditation to control my emotions.
There is a direct link between meditation and emotions. Meditating improves emotional control, reduces negative emotions and makes you happier
Meditation is the best technique for controlling emotions. But not just this, meditation improves emotional intelligence too. All it takes is 20 minutes. And there are significant benefits.
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