As human beings, experiencing the world of emotions is a central part of this life experience. We are gifted with the opportunity to feel a multitude of positive emotions like great joy, excitement, peace, and love. Another part of this life experience involves feeling deep sadness, confusion, anger, and fear. These more challenging emotions are truly inescapable. Even those who devoted their entire lives to peace, like the Dali Lama and Mother Teresa, acknowledged the personal experience of sadness, anger, fear, etc.
Since experiencing these emotions is an unavoidable part of being human, it’s helpful to know how to best move through them to restore your body and mind to a state of balance. In my personal and professional experience, one of the most effective ways to feel better when there is a build-up of emotional energy in the body is by crying. Since feelings are somatic and arise in the body, letting our tears flow allows the body to release and return to a state of balance.
Crying moves energy, so if we don’t give ourselves permission to release in this way, the energetic charge from intense emotions can get stuck in the body and directly impact our physical and emotional health. Crying helps to move the charge of the emotion, which creates an aliveness and energetic flow in the body, heart, and mind. In fact, research has shown that tears contain stress hormones that get released from the body through crying. Crying also leads to the production of endorphins, which are our body’s natural “feel-good” hormones. These endorphins contribute to positive feelings and help to reduce stress and physical pain.
As we travel along life’s journey, there is so much to cry about. People we love transition from this life to the next, which can be heart breaking. Relationships end, jobs change, our bodies age, soldiers go away to war, children grow up and leave home, people experience disappointment, hurt, and confusion. For these reasons and more, life can be quite challenging. During these times, it’s so healing to let your tears flow when you notice the impulse to cry instead of holding back or trying to “keep it together”. In fact, holding back tears can contribute to feelings of depression and negativity, so that is another reason why having a good cry is so beneficial.
There are also especially beautiful moments in life, both simple and profound, that give us reasons to cry tears of joy. Witnessing the miracle of birth. Receiving kindness and compassion from another. Listening to moving music. Sharing in a wedding ceremony. Taking in the gentle touch of a lover. Feeling deep gratitude. Again, in this life experience there is so much to cry about.
Sadly, we often receive messages that it is weak to cry and that people should toughen up, be strong, and put on a straight face. These messages are misguided and arise from a fear of vulnerability. It actually takes a tremendous amount of courage and strength to feel and express our emotions, instead of suppressing them and covering up with a false façade of “I’ve-got-it-all-together.” In truth, no one has it all together, which is helpful to remember if the mind tries to convince you otherwise. We all experience challenges and successes, sadness and joy, frustration and contentment, as this is a central part of being human.
To me, the ability to feel such depth and complexity of emotion is a precious and unique part of this life experience. So the next time you feel the impulse to cry, I invite you to take a deep breath, remember that it’s safe to feel, and let your tears flow.
With love & gratitude ~ Erin Stohl