Sadness can be an uncomfortable emotion—reminding us of the things we don’t like or can’t control. Our brains naturally gravitate toward happiness—the dopamine rush that comes from activities we enjoy and the things we love.
And yet, sadness is not something to be denied or invalidated. In fact, sadness can deepen our life and the way we experience it, if we let it.
The first step toward accepting sadness is learning how to process this emotion and understand what it signifies. This is where sadness meditation can help.
If you’re ready to take the journey to better understand your own sadness, read on to learn more about sadness meditation and how to incorporate it into your life.
Why Is Sadness Meditation Important?
No matter your feelings about sadness, one thing is certain—we cannot ignore it.
Suppressed sadness leads to festering and negative manifestations in the body, from overeating/undereating and insomnia to tightness in the chest and shortness of breath.
Sadness meditation helps us recognize sadness without judgment or negativity. The key is cultivating a calm and clear approach and seeing sadness as something neither positive nor negative—but something that simply exists.
While sadness often gets a bad reputation, psychologists and brain researchers are find increasing evidence supporting sadness as a necessary and even helpful emotion.
According to Doctor of Philosophy, Joseph P. Forgas, sadness can improve memory, social judgment, motivation, and perseverance when faced with difficult tasks and situations. Even more so, Forgas’ brain research revealed sadness improves our interactions with other humans—making us more polite, deliberate, and considerate communicators.
Note: Sadness and clinical depression should not be viewed interchangeably. While sadness is a natural human emotion, depression stems from a chemical imbalance that may benefit from antidepressant medication. If you think you’re suffering from clinical depression, consider seeking help and treatment.
What Is Sadness Meditation?
If sadness is the presence of emotions such as disappointment and grief, then sadness meditation is the art of simply noticing those emotions and the life moments, stressors, and experiences that cause them.
Unlike mindfulness meditation, which focuses on breathwork and staying present, sadness meditation is all about observing the intrusive thoughts that interrupt that breathwork and presence—encouraging us to pay attention to where our mind wanders and why.
The more you practice the art of noticing, the more in control you are of those emotions. This is due to the phenomena, neuroplasticity, which is the reorganization of brain connections that helps with skill acquisition, healing from trauma, and processing of grief. All types of meditation, including sadness meditation, thicken the areas of the brain responsible for emotional regulation—shrinking our brain’s fight or flight response and allowing us to think clearer and more rational thoughts.
How to Incorporate Into Your Meditation Practice
In order to begin your personal practice of sadness meditation, sit down in a comfortable position—breathing in and out slowly to clear your mind.
As you breathe in and out, notice your mind wandering and observe the thought before letting it go and returning to the present. Do this for five to ten minutes and then throughout your day, to stay aware of what distractions—both past and future—clutter your mind.
Whenever you clench your jaw or feel tension in your back, notice if your mind floats toward work, a particular relationship, finances, or whatever it is that could be causing sadness or tension. Stop and think about why it wanders in that direction, and then let it go with a deep breath in and out without trying to change or fix the situation causing stress or grief. Repeat as sadness comes in and out of your thoughts, recognizing that sadness reminds us of what matters in life and what is most important.
Looking for guided sadness meditations? Headspace can help.
The more cognizant you become of your sadness, the more you can control it and recognize the root of that emotion.
Sadness is not bad, but a way to call us back toward change and moving toward a better world and life. We grieve because we love, we feel loneliness because we’re made to seek connection, and we feel sad because we long for healing in the world.
Next time you feel sadness begin to take over you, cultivate a mindful approach and embrace it as another aspect of this beautiful and messy thing we call life.
Get more like this—Sign up for our daily inspirational newsletter for exclusive content!
Photo: Pixabay via Pexels