Emotional pain in chakra meditation

June 16, 2008

I am responding to a question from a listener who experienced emotional pain while using the Chakra Meditation.  Here is his email:

I was today listening to the Chakra meditation podcast, but felt it was necesarry to turn it off at the Heart Chakra. I found that I became overwhelmed by a feeling of great emotional pain in my heart… I thought I would e-mail you to see if you knew what might be causing this, and how to find the solution.

It’s not unusual to become more aware of our emotions during meditation, and even to have strong emotions or emotional pain come up.  I will write about that in general in another post (or talk about it in another podcast), but for now I’ll talk specifically about having this happen during the Chakra Meditation.

During the chakra meditation, we put our attention on the various chakras.  The chakras, or energy centers of the body, are like doorways to different aspects of ourselves.  They process the energy for our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual functioning.  When we put our attention on a chakra, we become more aware of what is going on in the part of our life that the chakra represents.  Not only do we become more aware, but the energy in the chakra is enlivened by our attention.  

Our attention is a beam of energy and intelligence and, like a laser beam, it affects whatever it is directed toward.  With your awareness on your heart chakra, you may get in touch with something going on in your heart area.  It’s like shining a light into a dark room — what has been hidden becomes revealed.

In this case, you felt great emotional pain.  This could be pain associated with something going on in your life now that you’ve been ignoring, or it could be some pain “releasing” from the past.  The heart chakra has to do with our relationships and connections with others.  If there has been some loss or hurt in relationships, it is felt in the heart area.  The loss or hurt could even be associated with things and events, such as moving or losing a job.  If the feeling of hurt (or perhaps grief) isn’t fully “processed”, the energy of the feeling gets “stuck” in the heart chakra.  When we put our attention on the heart chakra, we may feel what is waiting there to be processed.  It’s the job of the heart chakra to process certain emotions, and when we relax in meditation and allow our attention to go there, the heart chakra gains the energy to do its job.  While no one likes to experience emotional pain, it is a part of healing and recovering from an emotional trauma. 

Very often we have grief that hasn’t been fully resolved in our lives.  Some cultures are better than others in supporting people through grief.  In many of our Western cultures, we’ve learned to suppress grief.  But our mind and body will always move toward greater balance and emotional well-being given the opportunity.  While meditating, things that have been under the surface can come up to be felt.

When something comes up that makes you feel too uncomfortable, you can always do what you did and stop the meditation.  It would be good if that happens to lie down and rest a bit to let things settle down. There are some other ways of dealing with strong emotions as well, and for something like this an experienced meditation guide could help.  The advice the guide would give would depend on some one-on-one exchange with you.  

After responding to the person who asked this question, he emailed back that indeed he had recently experienced a sort of emotional trauma and had been feeling quite numb until listening to the meditation. Based on that, I also want to add that it is quite normal to feel numb after a traumatic event like the death of a loved one, breakup of a relationship and any other intense loss or change.  It’s a healthy response of the body and psyche to protect itself from overload and allow us to continue functioning.  Usually that phase passes and we begin to feel our emotional reactions.  Sometimes, however, those reactions are buried and may surface again after a long period of time.  It’s not always possible to know where a strong emotion in meditation is coming from — it could be an emotion from a recent event or left over from something long ago.  In any case, part of healing is experiencing that emotion and meditation can sometimes facilitate that.  

Usually an emotional release will in meditation will not take too long to resolve and won’t cause undue discomfort.  Occasionally, however, meditation can open us up to some feelings that are so difficult for us that we would benefit from help from a trained counselor or therapist.  Be kind to yourself and get support if needed.


35 Responses to “Emotional pain in chakra meditation”

  1. fiza on August 13th, 2008 10:45 am

    The answer to the above questionis very enlightening

  2. Tama on September 3rd, 2008 1:59 pm

    When I was suffering I felt this ball of energy, a dome, like a sun over my heart chakra. (I was trying to be very present and not hide or repress my pain.) It grew larger for a few days and the pain seemed to be converted to energy. I felt like I was walking around with a huge sun on my chest. Slowly it has shrunk down to fit in my chest.

    Can you comment on this and my experience?

  3. Mary on September 4th, 2008 9:43 am

    Hi Tama,

    It is obvious from this comment and your comments elsewhere that you are very aware of what is going on with your energy. People experience and describe subtle energies in many different ways. We do feel suffering in our heart chakra, and when the heart chakra is busy processing some emotions, there is a lot of energy there. You perceived is as a ball or sun.

    Pain is the way we interpret a movement of energy. As you stayed with the pain, letting go of attempts to repress it or resist it, you began to feel it simply as energy. Energy always moves, the energy of emotion comes up, intensifies and then dissolves. Left to go it’s own way without your interference, the energy in the heart gradually decreased. You could say that you allowed the heart to process what it needed to process so that the painful energy could resolve.

    This is very fortunate. Had you repressed the pain, it would have become “stuck”. That would have caused you more suffering in the long run than to simply be completely in the pain when it arose.

  4. Jennifer on November 16th, 2008 1:20 am

    I did a meditation today to open my chakras as suggested by a close friend of mine. I have always described myself as being more of a “logical” person, less emotional then most people. Today, however, hours after doing the meditation began to feel a bit sad and sentimental (even crying a little) about things that I thought were long forgotten. I laughed a bit when describing how I was feeling to my friend, as the only way I could describe it was as being possibly the way the Grinch felt when his heart grew 2 sizes larger (or however many sizes larger). Ha, this is funny but I feel like I have fluttering butterflys in my heart, or wierder, that I actually feel my heart as if it’s the first time, yikes! I am feeling a bit uncomfortable with the sensation of wanting to both cry and laugh at the same time and wondering if it will pass…

    …wanted to add that you mentioned that it is okay to stop the meditation if the pain is too uncomfortable. How do I shut it off if I am still experiencing the pain AFTER the meditation?

  5. Mary on November 16th, 2008 10:47 am

    Hi Jennifer,
    It sounds like your meditation created some opening in your heart chakra releasing a lot of feeling that has been “stored”. (No one really understands the mechanics of this, but emotions from past events seem to remain with us if they have not been fully processed in the past.) Your fluttering butterflies feeling is a reflection of the energies of the heart chakra being enlivened and going to work. You can tune in and see for yourself, but it sounds like there may be a mixture of joy as the heart opens up (laughing) and sadness as what has been held is released (crying). As to whether it will pass, probably even by now it’s settled down a bit and you will become accustomed to and integrate this experience.

    As for shutting the experience of the pain off after meditation. It will fade on its own over time if you just let it be there and don’t fight it. Get some extra rest and be easy with yourself.

    Although you are uncomfortable with it, this is potentially an important opening for you. Perhaps you will discover that you have more emotions than you thought. If you want to continue this opening and find it too uncomfortable, you may want to seek some sort of support with it.

  6. George on November 24th, 2008 6:16 am

    I do not know what is happening to me. During the first meditation stages I felt something huge that accumulates in my chest and I was scared because it was strange like a pain is released but in huge quantities and also make me feel like I release fear, anger and it’s decreasing gradually every day. But I accepted these feelings of fear because I am used to it and always sit in meditation for at least 1 hour in a day. Also when I felt that pain in my chest it somehow made me breathe harder like I was pressed by a rock. This is not a joke, my father threatened me like a garbage until I made 21 years, like I wasn’t his own son, he threatened me like I was his property, he made me feel depressed because he likes to tease me and he says that I am stupid and moron, but now that I discovered what meditation is I feel that I can forgive him for what he has done to me…MEDITATION IS THE WAY TO BE STRONGER, TO FEEL PEACE AND HARMONY WITH YOUR SOUL.

  7. Mary on November 24th, 2008 4:57 pm

    Hello George,
    You are really courageous in allowing these emotions to be felt and released through your meditation. I do think part of forgiveness is being able to feel the hurt another person has “caused” you all the way. It’s remarkable that you are arriving at this place of forgiving your father.

    An hour of meditation is a long time. It sounds like you are happy with this practice, but if you ever want to make the experience less intense, you could meditate for less time.

    Thank you for taking the time to share your experience!

  8. Jake on November 25th, 2008 5:10 pm

    I experienced something crazy last night. I’ve been doing chakra meditations everyday and I had a huge realization last night and out of nowhere began crying out of both joy and sadness. When my mother was little she was molested by a pastor. For years she completely forgot it ever happened. During her mid years the energy surfaced and she suffered greatly. What I didn’t realize is that I suffered with her. I share a strong connection with my mom, unlike that of my two brothers and father. While she was working through the pain, her emotions would go up and down. Sometimes she’d be happy as could be and sometimes she’d yell and treat me and my brothers poorly – I didn’t know what I had done to deserve her treatment. And until last night I didn’t even know how much it hurt me. I realized what that man did to her he did to me also through her. Today I feel very strange, a kind of sadness and joy. But it’s not so much in my chest as in my second creative/sexual chakra. I love my mom with all my heart and have forgiven her completely. But she hasn’t forgiven the pastor. I wonder if her energy is effecting me still. I realized I must communicate with and thank her for how she treated me for I believe it was a gift. My awakening has been so powerful that I can’t help but feel grateful, because now I can change enough to help her let that experience go.

  9. Mary on November 26th, 2008 3:22 pm

    What a revelation, Jake! It’s becoming more and more clear to me that we carry the emotional and psychological effects not only of what has happened to us, but of what has happened to our parents. My sense is that we inherit the history of our ancestors in our cellular memory as well. Sounds like you and your mother are very close and you are very empathic and so it’s not surprising that you would share the energetic patterns which resulted from her trauma.

    Any sexual abuse is registered in the second chakra as well as the heart and other chakras, so it makes sense you are feeling it there.

    When we shift energetically and heal emotionally, it brings those close to us along with us. We are not separate. We are all inter-connected — one big human organism!

    Wishing you all the best…

  10. Katrina on March 11th, 2009 4:09 pm

    Last night I did the chakra meditation for the first time, and experienced a lot of emotional pain when I got to the fifth chakra. What does this represent?

  11. Mary on March 12th, 2009 11:29 am

    Hi Katrina,

    Ultimately, you’ll need to check in with yourself to see what it represents, but perhaps I can say a few things that will help you do that.

    I suggest you do some reading about the fifth chakra and see if any of the “meanings” of the fifth chakra give you some insight into the pain. Briefly, the fifth, or throat, chakra is generally associated with communication, creativity, expressing our truth, speech.

    I feel it also has to do with emotional expression. Because of that, it’s possible that the emotional pain coming up at the throat chakra is something that wants to be expressed. One example would be unexpressed grief. There also could be something that you need to express to someone or even artistically that is blocked. Pain is felt at the chakra when the energy hits upon a block and the blocked energy gets activated.

  12. Katrina on March 26th, 2009 8:50 pm

    oops. i meant what does this CHAKRA represent. hooray for typos. Thank you for the information.

  13. Jill on May 28th, 2009 7:16 pm

    I have been working on clearing my chakras, and my throat seems to keep getting blocked…after doing chakra meditations the past week, I will all of a sudden become overwhelmed and need to cry to get the emotional pain out…is this my throat chakra clearing out?

  14. Mary on May 29th, 2009 10:07 am

    It does sound like your throat chakra clearing, Jill, but also it would involve other chakras as well.

    Part of the function of the throat chakra is communication, expression, speech. When we “choke back our tears” we are suppressing the throat chakra. I would say your throat chakra is opening up and this is allowing the energy to move through it. But there is probably clearing in other chakras, such as the solar plexus and heart, which is opening up this flow of emotional energy.

  15. Julia on May 23rd, 2010 7:59 pm

    I have started to do meditation for the last 3 weeks. However, the last few days while meditating, I felt a tightening in my heart and it will stay with me the rest of the day. I do not have any difficulties in the breathing exercises tho. Why does the discomfort in my heart still remains throughout the day?

  16. Mary on May 24th, 2010 8:33 am

    Julia, Sometimes when the mind settles during meditation, we become aware of something that is already there but not noticed before. It could be that, or if it truly comes up in meditation, it could signify a number of things – a release of some tension or an emotion like grief coming up, for example. Sometimes an experience like that in meditation can carry over during the day. It’s impossible to answer this through comments on a blog post, though!

    Of course you would want to investigate any significant heart discomfort with a doctor if it continues.

  17. John on May 26th, 2010 10:20 pm

    I’m glad i found this thread – people who’s experiences are similar to mine! Let me share…

    Over the last ten days of doing my meditation by simply focused on my breathing, i’ve had repeated episodes of a relatively intense chest pressure, a raw, dull, depraved ache, along with a mild sensation of being starved for air – i almost feel like i need to cough.

    How this sensation resolves both during and after meditating is varied. Sometimes it melts a bit and becomes more mild. Sometimes I get a huge sensation of being charged with energy through my entire body for up to a minute and can hear/feel this low-pitched vibration, and afterward feel this tremendous relief afterward – like a weight was pulled off my chest, and am entirely relaxed. And today, instead of my normal wad of pain in my chest, a feeling of warmth and relief just grew on its own, almost like this mass of “pain” saw that there was hope for it to be healed, and responded with its own sense of relief…

    Strange happenings, these. What it all means, I am not certain, but i think its a good thing yes? Maybe even a “normal” thing to happen for some of us!?

  18. Mary on May 28th, 2010 3:33 pm

    John, it certainly sounds like something significant is happening with your heart chakra. Although the heart contains “wounds” that are emotional and psychological in origin, the feeling of them can be intensely physical. It’s the willingness to experience the pain that allows healing to happen. (It is important, of course, for people to get attention for heart symptoms that could be a heart attack, and sometimes it’s actually difficult to tell the difference.)

  19. Julia on June 2nd, 2010 5:18 am

    Thank you Mary and Richard for the enlightenment. My relationship ended end April and it has been hard. Have been doing meditation and listening to your podcast. Some days is easier but other days, my heart literally grief in pain. This coupled with dreams or signs?? I am uncertain. But through the meditation I am trying to learn to let go and trust in myself.

  20. Mary on June 2nd, 2010 8:49 am

    Julia, it’s very normal to experience this painful grief when a relationship ends. You can read about grief at our Heart of Healing website. (The linked article is about surviving the death of a loved one, but also applies to loss of a relationship.) It’s great that you are using meditation to support yourself through this. Just keep meditating and naturally the letting go and trust will come. We wish you the best.

  21. Mark on November 9th, 2010 10:25 am

    Hi Mary,

    I have a weird question. I’ve been doing a wonderful guided chakra CD for the past few days and have had a few experiences that I’m curious about. When I get to my throat and brow chakras, my eyes are closed but everything becomes white, my eyes begin twitching, and my body (laying down) sort of tenses upwards in response. It’s not a bad feeling – it’s actually eerily pleasurable.

    When I get to this point it “feels” like, if I continue, I’m going to (for lack of a better term) “die”. Now, I have no idea what it feels like to die and it’s not in a medical context (I’m perfectly healthy and just had a physical last week to confirm). It’s really hard to explain. Perhaps the best description is that it feels as if my soul is going to separate in two and return to my body; which I equate with the feeling of “death”. When I do get to this point, I pull back because I’m scared but I don’t feel like there’s anything negative if I were to keep going.

    I’ve always been very sensitive in that I’ve felt a part of something much bigger than myself, strong feelings of empathy, finding beauty in random places, and intense emotions when I see/hear people being hurt in any way. At this point, should I see a guide to explore this a bit more? I’m assuming they may be able to guide me a bit better to alleviate any fears. After a few years of seeing therapists who really ignored my “spiritual” side, I believe that chakra meditation might be a wonderful way to help me get through the day much better.

    Any feedback you have would be much appreciated and I apologize for the long message. As a 31 y/o male, this is an avenue that looks promising.


  22. Mary on November 9th, 2010 3:18 pm

    Mark, when the chakras are opening more (or becoming “awakened”), all sorts of bodily sensations and phenomena can take place. THe upper chakras, brow and crown, have to do with expanding awareness and we may experience a kind of unboundedness in which the “small self” might seem to disappear (or “die”). It would be good to have some guidance — maybe see a Healing Touch practitioner ( or someone familiar with chakras and energy healing. Perhaps some reading would help as well. It’s good to take it slow when this type of thing starts to happen so it all unfolds in a balanced way. Best wishes.

  23. Melissa on January 2nd, 2011 9:13 pm

    I found myself experiencing pain in the heart chakra as well today. The emotional pain seemed more related to future events. The one that really hurts is the future loss of my mother. She is not ill right now, but I still get this aching love coming up, like I could lose her soon. I sort of figured this was because the past, present, and future are one, so I’m experience the grief from the perspective of my future self.
    Another person who triggered this for me is a friend I haven’t seen in years, her name is Heather. One day I was reading a novel in which there is a field of Heather. Then it was though I was fastfowarded into the future, when I am old, gazing at a flower of Heather, reminiscing of the good old younger days when Heather and I were having so much fun. This all brings a tear to my eye now :'(
    These are new feelings for me, they feel really good in one way, yet very sad in another.

  24. Mary on January 3rd, 2011 9:47 am

    Hi Melissa. Every feeling contains its opposite. Feeling love for someone, the wonderful feeling of having them in your life, contains the knowledge that you will someday lose them. My sense is that as your heart opens more, you are more aware of the full range of feeling and human experience. Thank you for sharing this!

  25. Ranjit on June 20th, 2011 9:26 am

    Hi,I am not at all doing any meditation but still m facing unbearable pain in center of my chest & nausea feeling.Plz help me out.Thanks.

  26. Mary on June 20th, 2011 9:44 am

    Ranjit, to begin with you should check with a doctor to see if there is a medical cause for this. If everything is OK medically, you can try some of our free guided meditations and see if it helps relieve the situation.

  27. Jessie on June 30th, 2011 12:10 am

    Hello, I have always been told that I am very intuitive and strangers have come up to me to tell me I have a bright light or brightness to me. After recently learning about chakras from a friend, I started meditating. During my meditation tonight, as I was focusing on the third eye, I started to tear up and cried a little and my deceased grandmother popped into my head. Now I have a dual headache and feel drained and sleepy (which is great because I suffer from insomnia.) Any insights?

  28. Mary on June 30th, 2011 10:31 am

    Jessie, it’s difficult for me to comment on your experience without knowing what kind of meditation you are doing and how you are doing it, but I can say a couple things. Straining in meditation (trying too hard) can cause a headache, or there could be some release going on from focusing on the third eye. You could feel drained from emotional release as well as it seems there was some grief that came up with your grandmother’s memory.

  29. Jessie on June 30th, 2011 6:25 pm

    Thank you for your response Mary. I was following a video on youtube on cleansing chakras. My grandmother passed 16 years ago and when she popped into my head she looked very happy.

  30. Shammi on October 18th, 2011 2:43 am

    I do mantra mediation and after some time i get seilence and feel my body and have pain in my chest
    and have to emotional pain. i am not worried but my question is how long …..

  31. Mary on October 18th, 2011 8:58 am

    Shammi, your question isn’t clear. If you are asking how long this will continue, that’s impossible to say.

  32. Shammi on October 20th, 2011 8:26 am

    Hallo Mary
    and thanks for your answer
    my another question is what is your stage of Mediation .i mean to say do u see light in mittel of your eyes while doing mediation.and sorry for my english.

  33. cameron on October 20th, 2011 7:11 pm

    Hi for years now i have been experiencing, pain in my heart chakra. for the first fue years it was and mostly still is on my left side, and right now and a hand full of other times it is on my right. is it posible how do i help these emotion reach my brain so i can sort them out. i usualy just try to walk it off. but that does help.

  34. Mary on October 21st, 2011 8:48 am

    Shammi, our program isn’t about progressing in meditation through different stages. If that is what you are interested in, then you may need to find another program. Best wishes.

  35. Mary on October 21st, 2011 9:11 am

    Cameron, probably would be good to see a doctor to make sure the pain isn’t due to a physical problem. Then, if you are sure it’s emotional, it might be helpful to see a counselor, especially since it has gone on for so long. Sometimes we need extra support to help something be resolved.

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