This past Sunday, yoga teacher Deborah McEvoy and I facilitated an amazing Heart Sparks Yoga and Writing Workshop. We breathed, we stretched, we stood in tree pose and, after Shavasana, we dove into that calm and opened spaciousness and explored deeper responses to I AM and I LOVE with some free writing.
Several women in the workshop shared that they didn’t like to cry or express their emotions because it is a sign of weakness, or they didn’t want to attract attention.
I believe that crying and being with your feelings actually takes great strength and courage. And that, when we cry, we give others permission to cry. Perhaps the people who have told us that it’s weak are just not strong enough to feel their own emotions.
Today’s post is reprinted from my book HEART SPARKS. It’s a reminder for me too, not to judge the tears, but just continue to invite them to flow.
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Another Yoga and Writing Workshop will happen in Atlanta, GA on May 9th. Stacey Beth Shulman will facilitate our heart-opening yoga practice and then we’ll explore the opened space through writing prompts. Email me for more info.
If you’d like to collaborate on a yoga or art or ??? workshop with me, I’d love to talk!
I have been crying a lot lately. But that’s not why I’m writing this.
I’m writing this because, for years, I hardly cried at all.
Like most of us, I’ve had sorrow and trauma in my past. But instead of feeling it, sharing it and releasing it, I buried it. I tucked my sadness and grief deep and away, convinced that, if I didn’t feel it, it would disappear.
My biggest fear was that, if I started to cry, to FEEL my sadness, that I would never stop.
And so I denied it, avoided it, distracted myself with addictive behaviors to prevent myself from feeling any kind of vulnerability. And if something happened in my life that did poke at my vulnerability, I quickly busied myself to avoid confronting any deep feelings.
This “worked” for a long time.
And then it didn’t work at all.
I was always agitated. Crabby. Needy. I wasn’t allowing my body to ebb and flow through ALL of my emotions.
Just like the body needs to laugh and sleep and breathe clean air, the body needs to cry.
Crying is the only mechanism the body has to release certain toxins and chemicals.
Dr. William H. Frey II, a biochemist at the St. Paul-Ramsey Medical Center in Minnesota, analyzed two types of tears: the emotional ones (crying when emotionally upset and stressed) and the ones arising from irritants (such as crying from onions).
He found that emotional tears contained more of the protein-based hormones, prolactin, adrenocorticotropic hormone, and leucine enkephalin (natural painkiller), all of which are produced by our body when under stress.
This explains why we usually feel better after a good cry.
Now I cry for all kinds of reasons.
I cry when I am disappointed, when something that was supposed to go one way, turns into something else. I cry when I think about those last precious days with my mom. I cry when my hormones take control of me.
Sometimes crying is me hitting a wall of fear or frustration or wanting to give up. Crying allows me to feel all of those things, letting them out, naming them, and claiming them and then letting them go so I can move past them.
Sometimes I cry without any particular emotion or story, just allowing my body to release and let go.
I also cry when I am full of joy and gratitude. It’s like I can’t contain it, don’t want to hold it in…it’s literally an outpouring of WOW! and YES! and I JUST CAN’T BELIEVE IT!
Crying is emotion overflowing. It’s like the release valve on a pressure cooker, no matter what’s in the pot. Crying makes room for even more.
Crying is a wet thank you. An Oh My God without words. Crying is when there aren’t even any words. Crying is sweet gratitude. Crying is soggy love.
I invite you to try it.
The next time your feelings poke you and you’re tempted to hold back from crying, breathe into the resistance and give yourself permission to feel whatever you feel. Keep breathing into the tightness, allowing your belly to soften, your heart to open, and let those tears roll down.
Trust that you’re not going to drown yourself in an never ending tsunami of emotion. Just hold on, let go and ride those tears to a new way of release.
Reprinted from my book HEART SPARKS: 7 Practices For Loving Your Life
Need a little extra encouragement? Click on this video to watch star football player Rosie Greer sing about crying.
I’d love to hear about your own crying experiences! Please share by clicking here.