“Don’t cry, don’t cry. But if it does happen, thank God.” — William H. Macy
I attended the Atlantic Acting School in New York City for two summers. One thing the Atlantic Acting School taught me was to breathe through the emotions that make you want to break into tears. To keep talking, breathing, moving, relaxing, whatever it is you may be doing–when you want to start crying. And if when you breath you ultimately break out into tears, THANK GOD and cry. Because tears can be healing. Tears can be beautiful. Tears can be the free expression of the moment. And tears always eventually end. They lead to another expression. They can bring you back to the present moment.
Basically, we keep gunk inside of us. The majority of us don’t even know what kind of junk we have hiding in the recesses of our bodies and hearts.
The idea is that, when we fully connect to the present moment and experience what is going on in our bodies, we may cry. And that’s God in action. Healing is literally happening when you cry.
It is not:
crying for attention
crying as a tactic (i.e. to get what you want or get someone to do something for you)
crying to let out an emotion
crying to breathe (sometimes in order to breathe you end up crying)
crying from hurt (that one can happen!)
Let’s use me as an example:
In 2007 I took a yoga class at Laughing Lotus in New York. I’ll never forget the class. I had been regularly taking a class with a girl named Rachel and had very recently relocated to Manhattan. After a back-bending class, I suddenly found myself overwhelmed in Savasana (final relaxation.) I almost forgot to breathe. As I connected to my breath I found that, with true inhales and exhales, I was crying. I cried with my eyes close in Savasana. I fought the tears.
It totally freaked me out.
After class, I nervously (and still emotionally) approached the teacher-Rachel. I asked her “Is it normal to cry in Savasana?” And she gave me a hug and I cried again. And once again, I fought the tears.
I was afraid that once I started crying I wouldn’t be able to stop.
I was so scared. And so I suppressed the emotions, I tried to force them inside, hide them, pretend they didn’t exist.
And, like many another yoga student who cried in Savasana, I never went back to Rachel’s class. In fact, I didn’t go back to Laughing Lotus for over five years.
I was that afraid of dealing with my emotions.
I moved away from the studio and found similar experiences–only this time I thought aha! I know what is coming. When Charles Matkin at Yoga Works would ask me “how are you?” I would try to ignore it, smile and prove that I was fine. I lied to myself and I lied to my family and friends. I lied to my physical body. I ignored my emotional needs.
So what happens when we don’t cry when the body needs to cry?
Nothing good, let me tell you!
Seriously, though, if we don’t cry when we need to cry it builds up. It finds places to store itself in the body.
For me, a lot of it still lives in my left psoas, my back, my shoulders, and oddly enough my right toes!!
More directly, in the moment, we tend to STOP BREATHING when we are afraid of crying. We retreat into ourselves and away from the present moment. We lose touch with reality, with the people in the room with us, with the mind-body connection.
It is okay to cry.
The important thing is that when you want to cry, when you feel the tears coming, is to BREATHE into them. To keep breathing, to stay connected to the present moment, to stay connected to the room around you, to the people around you, to the topic at hand (if you are crying while talking about something), to you!
It is not a sign of weakness to cry. It is not failure. It is NOT BAD TO CRY.
And if you are afraid you can’t stop crying. DON’T WORRY, YOU WILL EVENTUALLY RUN OUT OF TEARS.
So be thankful if tears come up. Use them to bring you further into the present moment. Breathe into them, keep talking, keep going, keep living. Stay with the tears and the tears will bring you to the next present moment, next emotion, next thought, next love.
And the plus side? You’ll be letting go of emotion? You won’t have the tears go to your hip, back, shoulders, neck, wherever you like to try and “hide them” on your body.
And you will be better open to receive, to love, to connect to others…even to laugh!
Don’t cry to to cry, but when the crying happens…let it happen. Embrace it. Love it. And THANK GOD.