At some point in our meditation practice, we start experiencing increased sensitivity to our emotions and afflicting thoughts. Some of these emotions can be overwhelming. They torment the mind. What can be done about this? Should we stop doing it? Let’s find out.
It is perfectly normal and happens during one of the stages of meditation. It’s a sign that you are moving in the right direction.
Think about it! You have been harboring these thoughts and emotions for a long time, perhaps years or decades. It’s very natural for you to be sensitive to stuff that was buried deep in your psyche. Don’t judge yourself for being sensitive. Realize that this is a form of release.
By the end of this post, you will understand what’s going on. But let’s go step by step and understand first the types of sensitivities we experience when the mind becomes meditative.
Sensitivity can be of two types, inner sensitivity and outer sensitivity. Inner sensitivity is all about your thoughts, feelings, and emotions, whereas outer sensitivity is about the external stimuli which are constantly present at all times, such as sounds and noises of the electronic gadgets around us, lighting in our rooms, and the temperature of the environment in which we are living.
From the psychological perspective, a highly sensitive person is one who has a high sensory perception capability. People with high sensitivity show a heightened level of awareness of social and environmental stimuli.
When we meditate regularly, we become more aware of ourselves and our surroundings, and as a result, our sense perception capability changes significantly.
The idea of doing meditation is not to become a good meditator but to free oneself from the mind that is continually tormented by obsessive thinking. Instead, channel that energy into creativity by cultivating an engaged working mind.
Being sensitive to life and nature
Being sensitive can actually be empowering, but before jumping to a conclusion, let’s understand what exactly we should be sensitive to.
Millions of people die every year throughout the world due to hunger-related causes. And unfortunately, a majority of them are children.
Such a thing happening is an indication of collective ego at play. Being constantly bombarded by negative news, we have become insensitive to everything and everyone around us. We have lost touch with our true feelings and emotions.
I’m not saying that you should feel guilty about what or how much food you are consuming, but you should be aware of the fact that most people in the world don’t even get access to basic life-sustaining food items.
When you are sensitive to life, you treat not just your food but everything around you with respect. You also feel compassion towards other people, plants, animals, and nature in general. You get the feeling of oneness.
Let me give you an example. We need to inhale oxygen present in the air to live and function properly. We get it from plants. Plants, on the other hand, consume carbon dioxide that we exhale, in combination with water and energy from sunlight, and prepare their food.
If you see carefully, you will observe how all of these life processes are so intricately interconnected. If there was no sunlight or water, life would not be possible on this planet. It’s all teamwork, and you are nothing if you are not a part of it.
Before I start my meditation, I see the rising sun in the morning and feel the love and warmth it offers. This kind of sensitivity empowers us, makes us humble, full of compassion toward all living beings, feels empathy for others, and raises the level of our consciousness.
Therefore, it’s okay to be sensitive to life and nature.
On the other hand, as an ego-sensitive person, you not only hurt yourself but others as well. When you are highly ego sensitive, you feel irritated even when someone gives you a compliment.
So, if your meditation is making you more ego sensitive as compared to life sensitive, you are definitely doing something wrong and must seek guidance from a trained teacher or a guru.
Sensitivity of Sense Perceptions
I know of some people who remain so engrossed in their devices that they don’t even respond when asked something. It’s not that they are arrogant or that they have some hearing disability. It’s just that their minds are so preoccupied with random thoughts that they fail to acknowledge them even when spoken to in a loud voice.
This is especially true if you are doing mindfulness meditation, where you just observe your breath in silence. As your mind becomes more calm and clear of thoughts, you become more aware and, as a result, highly sensitive to external stimuli.
Even after you complete your meditation session, your sensitivity to external sounds and noises remains high for quite some time till you adapt to the natural environment.
A person who practices meditation for some time even acquires the capability to be aware of the sound generated by the drop of a pin. That’s because his or her level of awareness is greatly enhanced.
What To do When The Sensitivity Becomes Unbearable?
When you begin meditation, one of the first challenges you face is that your mind keeps wandering every now and then, and it’s difficult for you to keep yourself focused.
With sufficient practice, very soon, you start realizing that your conscious mind becomes less cluttered and that the frequency of your mind wandering decreases significantly.
Now, as the mind becomes more clear and still, all those hidden feelings and emotions which were lying dormant in your subconscious mind gradually start coming up to the surface of the conscious mind.
For a very long time, you have trained yourself to ignore these hidden emotions and feelings. These emotions could be associated with anything like a trauma that occurred early on in your life, feelings of resentment for family or people who are close to you, the loss of a loved one, or undergoing abuse or ill-treatment as a child.
Your mind is an intelligent entity, and it knows how to suppress these negative feelings and emotions by getting you hooked on addictions that give short bursts of pleasure, such as drug abuse, playing video games mindlessly for long hours, binge-watching television, binge-eating, and drinking alcohol, among other things.
It is very normal for these feelings to come up while meditating. Try to think of this as a cleansing process of the mind. I can understand that these feelings are very uncomfortable and difficult to deal with. They well up like an active volcano that is about to erupt. Let it flow.
You need to accept these feelings and let them pass, and with regular meditation practice, a time will come when these feelings and negative emotions associated with them will not bother you anymore. You will simply become an observer who’s just watching the contents of the mind without judging them.
Yes! Meditation does make us sensitive, but not from the perspective of the ego. In fact, it reduces the ego, makes us more sensitive to life and nature, and helps us develop compassion and empathy.
With sufficient practice, you train yourself to feel your emotions on a deeper level, and this, in turn, relieves you from the burden you were carrying in your heart (on rather your mind) for years altogether.
Being sensitive to your emotions is not a sign of weakness. In fact, it takes a lot of effort to get in touch with your inner self, and most people don’t have the patience or lack the courage to do that. They try to distract themselves by getting hooked on addictions or using other means of suppression.
This kind of suppression is very unhealthy for our body and mind and can cause various ailments and chronic diseases.
Sometimes our thoughts and emotions are so overwhelming that it becomes difficult to ignore them. But that’s ok. As I said earlier, it’s a sign that you are making good progress in your spiritual journey.
With time the impact of these emotions will reduce, and you will simply be able to observe them without judgment or guilt. This is the superpower I was talking about. This is freedom. We all have it; we just have to realize it.