A 12-Minute Meditation to Meet Difficult Emotions With Compassion

This guided meditation is a simple practice to help us navigate the ups and downs of everyday life challenges with a kind and open heart.

Adobe Stock | Mary Long

Often when we’re struggling with challenging situations or emotions, the things that feel the most supportive aren’t complex techniques, but just simple, down-to-earth practices.

This week, teacher and leadership trainer Carley Hauck introduces a practice for working with difficult emotions that’s all about noticing the body and visualizing the support, care, and wisdom to stay present to the right-now experience. In a world that feels increasingly complex and uncertain, Carley’s guidance is like a gentle hand on the back, encouraging us to slow down and find calm amidst the chaos. She shows us how to face life’s challenges with a kind and open heart, reminding us that it’s okay to feel overwhelmed sometimes.

A Guided Meditation for Working With Difficult Emotions

  1. For this meditation, allow yourself to come into a comfortable sitting position. Feel your feet firmly planted on the floor. Notice your posture as you’re sitting. Allow your shoulders and your upper back to relax. 
  2. Begin to notice the rhythm of your breath as you breathe in and out. It may even be helpful to place one hand on your lower abdomen. And as you breathe in, you feel the stomach rise. And as you breathe out, you feel the stomach fall. 
  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. Bring to mind a situation that occurred recently where you felt sadness or disappointment. It doesn’t need to be the most difficult experience, but just something moderately difficult so that you can practice. It may even be something that hasn’t happened yet, but that you are feeling sad, disappointed, or anxious about. 
  5. Turn your attention to the physical body. As you’re reflecting on this situation of sadness, what do you feel in the body right now? Is there tightness or tension behind the eyes? Is there a heaviness in the shoulders or your head? What are you aware of right now?
  6. With a compassionate curiosity, turn towards your experience. Everything is welcome right now. 
  7. If you find it difficult to be with what’s arising, that’s okay. Use the breath as a stabilizer, helping you to fully be here to whatever is arising and passing in the mind and the body and the heart. It might also help to name the feelings that are here for you, like sadness, loss, or disappointment. 
  8. If this feels comfortable for you, allow yourself to imagine a wise and loving figure who is cradling you. They have enveloped you with strong and loving arms. And they’re stroking your head and repeating, “It’s okay. I am here for you.” Let yourself take that in. Receive the support.
  9. If there’s anything else that you need to hear to really feel supported right now, allow that to come into your awareness. What words or gestures would feel most comforting and helpful? 
  10. Notice what’s happening in your physical body as you receive this support. Is there heaviness? Is there peace? Acceptance?
  11. When you’re feeling ready, you can thank this loving figure for its support and presence. You are centered, strong, resilient. And you are ready to meet the day. 
  12. When you feel ready, allow yourself to slowly transition back into your day—slowly open your eyes, feel your feet on the floor, notice your surroundings. Thank you for your practice today.