A 12-Minute Meditation for Sitting With Uncomfortable Feelings

In this guided meditation, Diana Hill invites us into a soothing space where we learn to embrace our uncomfortable feelings, both physical and emotional.

Adobe Stock/ Stranger Man

In this meditation, we’re going to practice sitting with an uncomfortable emotion. As humans, we have all sorts of emotions that show up in our day. We have irritability, anger, sadness, anxiety, joy, and physical discomfort. Avoiding our emotions or closing off to them can lead us astray from listening to the underlying need of our emotion or the values that the discomfort is pointing to. So in this practice, you’ll practice observing and offering compassion to a difficult feeling.

A Guided Meditation for Sitting With Uncomfortable Feelings

  1. You can do this meditation sitting or lying down. Allow your shoulders and your upper back to relax. Your eyes can be closed or looking softly at a spot in front of you.
  2. Begin to slow down the rhythm of your breathing. Breathing in, you can say to yourself, “I’m aware that I’m breathing in.” And breathing out, “I’m aware that I’m breathing out.” Breathing in. And breathing out.
  3. Start to notice the slowing down of your heart rate, of your blood pressure, allowing you to fully be here in this present moment. 
  4. Feel your body where it makes contact with the floor. Feel the air around you on your skin. And listen to any sounds inside or outside your room, all orienting you to the here and now. 
  5. Start to notice where there’s discomfort. Maybe there is an uncomfortable pain like physical pain. Maybe there is an uncomfortable emotion—anger, sadness, irritation, confusion, loneliness.
  6. Climb inside your body and notice where there’s some form of discomfort for you. Something that maybe you wish wasn’t there. And the first step in being present with an emotion in your body is to observe it. Notice where it is inside of you, its weight, if it has a shape or a texture. If it has a color, what color would it be?
  7. Keep breathing as you observe your discomfort. Breathing in, you can say, “I’m aware of my uncomfortable feeling.” Breathing out, “I observe my uncomfortable feeling.” Just keep bringing awareness to and observing this discomfort. 
  8. Now, notice where you’re bracing yourself around your discomfort. Where are you tensing or contracting? See if you can soften around the edges of your discomfort. Let go of the tension and make more space or whatever it is you’re feeling.
  9. Now, bring some care, acknowledgment, validation, and warmth to your discomfort. You can place your hand on your body where you feel it. You could use some warm, validating words like, “It’s understandable that you feel this way. I’m here for you.” You could even imagine sending some care to this feeling, bringing some warmth, some acknowledgment that this is a moment of just comfort, and that you’re here for yourself with it. 
  10. If you need additional warmth that’s not just your own, you can bring in imagery of people or pets or nature to surround you and be with you. You can feel that presence with you, as well, as you’re making space for and bringing warmth to this discomfort. 
  11. The last step is to ask yourself, “What is it that’s important here?” Maybe this pain, physical or emotional, is trying to tell you something. Something that you need or something that you value. What is important here? And as you make contact with what’s important to you, your value underneath this discomfort, you now have the capacity to act on that value, to act on that thing that is important to you.  
  12. Imagine yourself moving throughout your day, acknowledging and observing any discomfort you have, softening around it, bringing warmth to it, and then acting on that thing that’s most important to you. What would that look like? 
  13. When you feel ready, bring your awareness outward toward sounds in the room. Notice the temperature on your skin, your body making contact with the floor. And breathing in, say, “I have arrived.” Breathing out, “I’m here.”  
  14. Thank you for your practice today. 

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