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Advaitic way of dealing with uncontrollable emotions

by | Mar 22, 2023 | Advaita, Advaita, Awareness, Duality, Ego, Emotions, I, Mind, Paths, Sakshi Bhav/Witness, Satipathana, Self-Effort, Sensations


Ekta didi, I am going through a strong emotion because of an event in my life this last week. I am quite aware of it and this time I want to use it to go deep into the emotion. What is the Advaitic way of dealing with emotions?



Advaitic meditation for dealing with emotions is very similar to Buddha’s Satipatthana. Consider it as an open-eyed Satipatthana with a little difference here and there. 


Assuming that right now, you might be not in the midst of the emotional cyclone, here is an Advaitic understanding of the process of how emotions arise:

1] When an unpleasant situation occurs, an agitation is experienced, mostly in the form of sensations of:

Air – Restlessness 

Fire – Heat & stiffness 

Earth – Heaviness 

2] It is incorrect to consider that sensations are ‘located’ in the body for an Advaitin. Sensations are a mind-phenomenon. Observe them like a scientist observing intently under the microscope of knowingness/witness. 

3] As sensations arise, the ‘fake I’ arises simultaneously in the form of an ‘I-thought’ and identifies with the sensations. It assumes the sensation as ‘MY feeling’. This identification creates the ‘thought-story’. 

4] When one dwells in the ‘thought-story’, emotions are labeled.  e.g. anger, hatred, jealousy

Why is it important to recognize the above 4 steps?

The intellectual analysis does not help in overcoming strong emotions, they only get repressed. It should be clear that the above steps are detailed, broken down experiential steps of pure observation by the knower/witness. This will be evident only if one makes an effort to NOT get involved with the thought – story. 

So, the primary understanding of the emotional process helps identify: 

1] That the fake ‘I’ attaches itself to the sensation. 

2] It assumes it as ‘MY’ feeling.

3] A thought-story is created.

4] Then the thought labels it as an emotion. 

5] Repeat.

IMP: It will help to recognize that in every repetition there is a new fake ‘I’ generated. There is no single continuous ‘I’. 

This entire process happens within seconds and is hard to identify when you are already surrounded by the whirlpool of emotion. So the next 6 steps might help before you try to recognize the steps above again. 


1] Do not push any emotion under the carpet, instead, FULLY EMBRACE THE heat of the emotion. 

2] You will have to ignore any thought-story that arises, don’t give it room, empty out the space for the pure emotion.

3] Let the emotional cyclone increase and increase its magnitude. Simply observe it. Let it continue for a while, willingly. 

4] You will be able to recognize that you are the witness that is untouched by this cyclone. Only the fake ‘I’ burns in it. Only the fake ‘I’ rejects it, resists it, only the fake ‘I’ labels it as suffering. I remain untouched. 

5] Let the cyclone come closer and closer, if tears come, let them. Let the emotion stay. Be ready to have infinite patience to let the fire play. Don’t douse it. Don’t assuage it. Let it be! 

6] Agree to be lifelong with such storms of emotion very well understanding that they don’t touch me. Only the Ego gets bashed and that’s OKAY! I am not the EGO.

I am NOT ‘I’.

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  1. Viji Dilip

    Beautiful Ektaji. I sort of witnessed on such emotion my self without knowing this is what is happening. Now I will be able to practice it more

    • Harjot Sodhi

      I experience that when I’m under the sway of emotions it makes perfect sense to me to see it for what it is . An emotion for me is a thought with a Fake I in its centre and a simultaneous sensation in the body. I can see that the sensation is just something that I can’t really label. It’s just there. The simultaneous commentary about it makes it my feeling. If I let go
      of the commentary the sensation disappears after a while.
      I’ve observed that there is always a thought that preceeds the sensation and so I can go upstream to the source of it which is only a puny little thought and further to the source of that thought even and right at its centre there it is the I story but really no I actually there. It’s always the story I subscribe to and get enchanted with.
      But what about the times when a sensation preceeds a thought ?a For e.g I wake up with pain in my knee. Then there is a thought, there is pain . The pain is not in the knee as the knee is jada . The pain is in my mind . The I identifies with the sensation of pain and attributes it to a knee pain. But however if I put balm on my knee the pain subsides. Strengthening my belief in pain that is not in the mind but in my knee. How does one reconcile this with the advaitic understanding ?
      Would appreciate your comment on it.
      Thanks and regards

      • Gnyana Sangha

        The knee is in the mind dear, not just the pain. This is the Advaitic level of experiential seeing… Walk the path, see it, then there will be no room for discussion.

  2. gurmeet kaur

    Ekta thanks a lot

  3. Gautami Makam

    This is a very good detailed as well as to the point description. Thanks for sharing the knowledge

  4. Parthvi Oza

    Very beautifully explained. Thank you .


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