The Essential Guide to Working with Difficult Emotions

Essential Guide to Working With Difficult Emotions

So much of our happiness depends on how we work with our emotions. Buddhist practice helps us understand the energy of strong emotions, free ourselves from negative emotional patterns, and discover the wisdom in even the most difficult emotions. In this helpful guide, a number of Buddhist teachers offer insights and techniques to help us work with difficult emotions.


Calling on Jizo

In Japan, Jizo Bodhisattva is the “guardian of children who have died.” Zen priest and grief counselor Dojin Sarah Emerson recalls how the Jizo Ceremony helped after the death of her daughter.

The Nature of Fear

In this classic piece from the Lion's Roar archives, Joseph Goldstein explores the different types of fear, and how we can sit with fear and hold onto it in our practice.  

How Do I Deal With Painful Thoughts of Revenge?

You needn't give harbor to thoughts of ill will, says Lewis Richmond, no matter how justified they seem to be.

The protector Vajrasadhu, painted by Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche.

The Wisdom of Anger

If you know how to use it, says Melvin McLeod, the energy of anger becomes fierce and compassionate wisdom. Even the buddhas get angry about injustice.

The 4 Noble Truths of Emotions

The Buddha laid out a four-step path to freedom from difficult emotions. Anyen Rinpoche says the secret is understanding why our emotions cause suffering.

Bodhidharma’s Wall Gazing Meditation

Zen teacher Karen Maezen Miller explains Bodhidharma's famous practice of wall-gazing.

You Can’t Get Rid of Your Anger — And That’s OK

Denying anger or giving in to it only makes things worse. The middle way, says Josh Korda, is to live with your difficult emotions skillfully.

How to Work with Anxiety on the Path of Liberation

Anxiety is actually a necessary part of our path. Psychotherapist Bruce Tift gives an instruction in how to relate to it constructively.

How does a meditator deal with major depression?

The teachers are asked how a meditator deals with episodes of depression.

Dark birds.

The Wisdom in Dark Emotions

Grief, fear and despair are part of the human condition. Each of these emotions is useful, says Miriam Greenspan, if we know how to listen to them.

Broken statue.

Coming Apart and Struggling Through Depression

A moving account by Susan Moon of her journey back from depression, and how her Buddhist practice both helped and hindered her.

Silhouette of a woman.

Pema Chödrön’s Six Kinds of Loneliness

To be without a reference point is the ultimate loneliness. It is also called enlightenment.