Have you ever wondered why you feel exhausted at the end of the day, even on days when you don’t do physically challenging work? Of course, there are other physical reasons for feeling exhausted, like lack of sleep or not getting enough movement, rest, hydration, or nourishment, but there’s one very big reason why we often feel exhausted that we may not realize: high-intensity emotion. And it’s not only the unpleasant feelings like anxiety or sadness that deplete us—pleasant emotions like excitement or elation can be draining too.
High-intensity emotions can be physiologically taxing because they trigger a stress response, the fight or flight response, and that’s just not sustainable. So, the takeaway is not that we should never experience high intensity emotions. Rather, the invitation is that we turn towards our emotions so we can choose how to channel these emotions in a way that helps us meet our goals without burning out.
Borrowing from the late author Rumer Godden, I want to share a beautiful metaphor: Everyone is a house with four rooms—physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual. Most of us tend to live in one room more than the other rooms. And yet we need to visit every room, and that’s what we’re going to do.
This meditation is the second of a series of four where we’re going to visit four domains of energy: physical, emotional, mental, and intentional. We’re going to explore meditations, contemplations, and skillful actions that we can take every day to replenish our energy in these four domains. The energy in these four rooms is interconnected, so if you are out of balance in one room, you’re going to feel it in the other rooms and you will know it in your body. So let’s visit the emotional room.
H2: A Guided Meditation for Emotional Energy
A 12 Minute Meditation to Replenish Emotional Energy with Shalini Bahl
- Come to a comfortable posture, lowering or closing your eyes, and bringing your attention to your body. Just sitting here, breathing, with nowhere to go, nothing to do. Just for these few minutes, we’re going to create some space to just be with ourselves, to notice our emotions. No agenda, not trying to fix anything, just learning to be with and listen to your emotions.
- Starting out by just becoming aware of your breath as it’s moving in and out of your body. There’s no need to change your breath in any way, just follow the natural rhythm of your breath. If it wants to go deep, let it go deep. It wants to be shallow, let it be shallow. All you’re doing is giving your full care and attention to every in-breath, to every outbreath, and the spaces in between.
- With each in-breath, perhaps feeling spaciousness in your mind, in your body. And with each exhale, softening just a little bit more. Using your breath as an anchor to be here now.
- During this practice if you feel overwhelmed or any kind of discomfort, feel free to return back to your breath. When you find that your mind and body are stabilized, turn your attention to your experience of the emotions that you’re feeling right now.
- Without any judgment, just noticing if you can effortlessly label the emotions present. Whether it is excitement or boredom, anger, or inner calm, just noticing what’s there in your emotional room today. Remember to open the windows if you need to in this room. Using your in-breath to create some spaciousness and using your exhale to soften whatever’s rigid in your body. Just making room for your emotion to move, to be, to tell you what’s going on.
- Emotions are there for a reason. They give us information about our inner and outer landscape. So, we’re using this time to turn to an emotion and see what information this emotion wants to offer. Just listening in without any kind of judgment, feeling calm and peaceful. Without any kind of grasping or wanting this emotion to continue, see if you can receive the information—the thoughts underlying this emotion of inner calm or peace. Just noting that life is okay in this moment and receiving that sense of OK-ness in your body without striving or grasping. And if that’s not what you’re feeling, that’s okay too. If you’re noting unpleasant emotions like anxiety or stress, turn to that emotion with kindness and ask for guidance. “What do you want to tell me, dear emotion?” What is this emotion preparing you for? Maybe it wants you to focus on something in your environment or something within you. So just listen in.
- Even if nothing is coming up at this time, that’s OK. Just use your breath to create spaciousness, using your exhale to release, to soften. Just being open to whatever thoughts may be arising, noting those. And knowing that if you are still feeling anxiety or fear and you’re not entirely clear what to do about it, maybe make a note of a person that you can reach out to for help.
- This is our time to be in the room of emotions, making space for it all. Maybe you’re feeling excitement or elation. Make room for that as well—seeing if you can receive the gifts from your emotion in this moment without needing to rush or react in any way.
- Before we end the practice today, just take a few moments to notice if you were able to turn towards your emotions with kindness, with curiosity. If not, that’s okay. This is a practice. The more we are able to see and turn towards our emotions, the more we have a choice to transform our anxiety or our other emotions into actions that we can take to reach our goals for our well-being. Even after we end today, maybe take time to listen to your emotions and check in. What does your emotional energy need today? Maybe you need to be with friends who can uplift you or help you find more joy, or maybe you need to do some activities that give you joy, or maybe you need some time alone.
- Whenever you feel ready, open your eyes and see if you can commit to doing one activity today that will nourish your emotional energy. Thank you for your practice today.