Did you know that crying is really good for you? Most of us learned to hold back the tears and we can feel embarrassed or ashamed when we can’t do this.
A full cycle of crying usually takes only about 90 seconds. During this cry session the body releases stress, physically and emotionally. We might spend years holding things in and packing our tank of tears like a musket, believing that if we let go the crying might never stop.
Tears are often a sign that it’s time to reach out to another person and get support. Sometimes when I witness another person’s tears I tear up myself. This might be a sign that I am also “behind” on my crying. A meta-analysis published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology explained, crying “is a key attachment behavior intended to elicit care and comfort from close others throughout life.”
There is plenty of research about the physical and emotional benefits of crying, but I find that I just feel better after a good release. A wise woman once called crying, “washing the windows” so as to see more clearly.
My yoga therapy teacher, Sarajoy Marsh, has a teaching about The Body Dashboard, that includes a daily practice of crying! She names seven practices to include every day for vibrant health. These include:
- Getting enough sleep to feel deeply rested
- Raising your heart rate for 20 minutes
- Feeling the air on your skin, engaging with the natural world
- Nourishing yourself with healthy food, in a mindful way
- Engaging in a right brain activity, such as making art or music or appreciating beauty
- Eliminating: peeing, pooping, sweating, laughing and crying!
Many years ago I read a book called River of Gold. The matriarch of this huge Mexican family would rise before dawn each day and go to her crying tree. She would find reasons to cry every morning as her preparation for facing life. She was cleansed and ready to see more clearly.
Now I see the wisdom from this story. Crying could be a regular practice! This is good news for me because I cry a lot. More accurately, I cry often but not usually a lot of tears. I cry when I am moved either by joy or awe or sorrow. I am very empathetic so I can cry for someone else and I can even cry for you if you’re feeling stuck!
The practice for this week is to go explore on youtube or your favorite social media platform. Seek out images or films that make you cry either from joy or sorrow. Look for puppies and kitties, soldiers reuniting with their dog after years away, that dowdy English singer, with the gorgeous voice, who won Brittan’s Got Talent a few years back (that one really gets me). Little Women was pretty effective, too.
Rinse out those tear ducts, wash those windows, feel the release! Pay attention to the way you feel through the whole process.
Enjoy your cry.