Is Crying During Meditation Normal?

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No one is born with a talent for meditating.

The potential to meditate in a beneficial way is learned and to meditate proficiently can take years of practice.

Beginner meditators start their practice with a certain amount of expectations about how their meditation session should go.

Those expectations are often centered around doing it “right” and enjoying perfect serenity and calm.

But meditating cannot be learned if the goal is never to have any problems, because everyone’s mind wanders, and everyone has thoughts that come up in their mind during meditations that are not helpful or constructive.

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Why Meditation Can Make Us Cry

Meditation has the potential to bring emotional pain to the surface , like the grief of loss, or the anxiety that goes with making serious decisions.

At its essence, meditation is about observing what is in the here and now. We focus on the present moment by paying attention to our breath, bodily sensation or just what is happening around us in that exact present moment.

As we begin to strengthen our ability in moving our focus away from our everyday thought and towards the present moment, strong emotion or memories of traumatic events may start to bubble to the surface.

This may not be an expected effect of meditation, but it is certainly not uncommon and something we should be prepared to deal with.

While some meditators may recognize what is happening with familiarity, others can be surprised or possibly confused by this experience.

The practice of meditation is not necessarily always pleasant or easy. For many, it can be downright frustrating.

During that frustration and during other times, we have a strong emotional response to what we are experiencing in the present moment and our emotional reaction can be intense.

Crying During Meditation - Women meditates

How to Handle Difficult Emotions

The most important thing to keep in mind is that it’s perfectly normal to experience emotional pain during a daily meditation session.

This does not mean that you are meditating wrong, in fact, the opposite is true; you should see it as a sign of progress.

If you begin to feel your eyes water and the rise of difficult emotions, then try to treat them like you would any other intrusive thought.

Observe it, sit with the emotion. It will pass.

If the emotional trauma is too great, then don’t worry if you have to take a deep breath and stop. This is also fine.

If we have the mindset that we should not feel any emotion during meditation, it can be even more difficult to deal with emotions that arise.

However, when we set our intention on observing what is happening and try to stay with the process of following it, it is possible to experience sadness or other emotions during meditation without getting distressed by them.

Another option is to try another form of meditation or meditation technique.

Metta meditation is a form of meditation where we generate feeling or happiness goodwill towards ourselves or others.

Gratitude meditation can help us focus on our feeling of gratitude, what we appreciate in life and how to hold it at the forefront of our minds.

Other Emotions

We may also become overwhelmed by feelings of joy, love, or appreciation in a meditation practice, but we should try not to get too caught up in this emotion either and also let them pass.

While these emotions can be pleasant, it is essential not to let them become too distracting as they are not the main focus of our practice. These, too are just emotion to be observed.

You may also be somebody who deals with chronic pain, stress, or anxiety.

In these circumstances, it is important that you are mindful of any physical or mental tension that may arise.

Meditation can become an invaluable tool in managing your pain, but we should avoid causes ourselves any unnecessary physical trauma.

If you are dealing with physical pain whilst meditating, then we recommend you consult a doctor or a meditation teacher.

Final Thoughts

We have to be able to accept that sometimes the mind will wander away from the meditation, and that there are both negative thoughts and distractions that will arise, as well as positive experiences like being completely relaxed and peaceful during a session.

The inescapable reality is that emotions will arise and beginner meditators will experience frustration, fear, doubt and other unpleasant feelings while they practice.

It is important to understand that meditation practice and the emotional and physical effects it creates are natural.

Each person’s experience will be different, we must realize that they are not right or wrong but just a reflection of that moment in your life.

Key Facts

  1. Sometimes the effects of meditation can bring up negative emotions and memories of a traumatic event. This is completely normal and ok and doesn’t mean you are meditating wrong or are a particularly sensitive person.

  2. If you have painful emotions or waves of guilt whilst meditating, just try to bring your attention back to the object of attention you are focusing on.

  3. You may also encounter a sense of calm, feelings of peace, happiness and appreciation. These are also just passing emotions to be observed objectively.

  4. If you are physically experiencing physical pain whilst meditating, you should stop and consult a doctor or a qualified meditation teacher.

Griff Williams

MindEasy founder & meditation teacher

Griff Williams is an accredited meditation teacher and founder of MindEasy. He spent 12 years working as a London firefighter before changing paths to pursue building MindEasy. He received his diploma in meditation teaching from The British School of Meditation.