Some meditation students experience unexpected emotions, such as fear, anxiety, anger, and so forth that seem to rise up out of the unconscious mind. This tends to scare them away from the practice and makes them wonder if something is wrong with them. Can you please comment on this and offer some suggestions to such students?

Namaste, thank you for asking
It’s more than likely that ALL meditation students experience these events at some point in their practices. It is an inevitable part of the process and if one hasn’t, it’s time to acquire and bring in the backhoe of one’s personal mantra and dig deeper. You could even say this is a ‘good’ thing. Remember, mind (a tool of Self) does not realize Self. Self transcends and reveals Itself in a pure, still mind.

Man” (pronounced maan, short a) means ‘mind.’ “Tra” means ‘beyond.’ Proper use of mantra, therefore, takes the practicant beyond the mind. It is a purifier. If one’s mind can be compared to a lake, at the beginning of the journey, all the so-called negative stuff is happily nestled, comfortable and quiescent, at the bottom—on the lakebed. Undisturbed, shall we say?

The so-called positive emotions are nestled right alongside those other players—also undisturbed. Yep, at some time, you will have to look at those, too. Earnest and devoted practice will make this sludge come up for review in all its mixed and muddy glory to be dealt with and disposed. The waters of the lake become clearer and clearer, but at first it simply looks like a catastrophe is happening. If you haven’t been prepared for this, you can’t help but wonder if something is wrong—either with you, the teacher or the teaching.

But no. Carry on. Persevere. You are on the right track and actually accomplishing something. You can tell by the fact that these very feelings come up. Keep the faith, continue the practice. Like dropping carrots into the soup, you’ll have some pretty pleasant experiences, too, after a while. And then more stick, of course, until the process is complete.

OM and Prem,
Sw. Vandana