Crying Whilst Meditating
I read an article recently in Mel magazine called “Should you be concerned about your physical health if you can’t remember the last time you cried?”. It has an amazing line in it from psychiatrist Judith Orloff
“You have to imagine what it would be like to have your body functioning at a higher level, one that allows for tears.”Judith Orloff – SHOULD YOU BE CONCERNED ABOUT YOUR PHYSICAL HEALTH IF YOU CAN’T REMEMBER THE LAST TIME YOU CRIED?
Before we get to crying. First, a little note on making judgements.
We all make judgements, snap decisions. We model the motivations of others based on our own experience. I don’t think this is necessarily a bad thing. But we should at least acknowledge that we all make judgements about people all the time.
For example. I know gym rats make judgements about others physical health when they hear someone else doesn’t do any exercise. Of course they do. There’s no point in pretending otherwise. Not that I think gym rats think they are better then other people because they go for a swim. They make a judgement anyway. Because it;s something that they experience in there lives and I for example – don’t.
Meditation takes about the same amount of time and commitment in my life as a running habit does in someone else’s.
There’s an undeniable commitment of time and effort . We have all different interests. And just as I said about fit people making judgements about others. I do something similar. If someone tells me that they don’t meditate, pray or see a therapist regularly. I’ll make a judgement about the state of their interior world. Again this isn’t necessarily bad, we all do it. It’s just a fact of life.
I want to talk about crying and the release of emotion when meditating this week. For anyone that hasn’t ever meditated, you are just going to have to listen along and decide if im full of shit – more or less than usual.
However, before we go any further I’d like to say that I think runners are full of shit too. I’ve never experienced runners high. Ever. But I totally believe that it’s a state of mind that exists and I’ll defer to anyone’s experience of it. But I still think its total shit. The only thing that running makes me do is vomit and or kill myself. Running is as boring and it is a hell in my opinion.
I get it however…
Running is a mantra.
An embodied mantra. Putting one foot in front of another. People have told me before they sometimes feel emptied out by running resulting in an empty mind. Other times they’ll tell me that a feeling or emotion will rise unbidden and force out any other thoughts until they are placing one foot in front of another with tears streaming down their faces unbidden. Int he rain still 5k from home.
I’ve never experienced any of this I’m too full of rage about the whole affair. But I’m not about to deny that this happens. Especially one that is so common and attested to by so many.
Everyone moves through their lives experiencing moments of emotional trauma at varying levels of intensity. Moments that are left unresolved or unaddressed as we go about our day. Eventually these moments are forgotten about. Pushed deep down into the psyche so as not to trouble the individual. These past experiences are loops of thought that the brain continues to hold on to and run like a subroutine. Mental baggage and clutter we haul around with us.
At some point in everyone’s meditation career they encounter an emotional experience thats like a stove top Bialetti hitting the boil. Tears will well up unbidden from the depths of your soul. A release.
It is a significant moment. A reconnection of the mind with the body in a way that unless you have experienced it – is hard to describe.
The tears just flow. Your body processes buried emotions that until that moment you have no idea that you have been carrying around. For the most part first experiences of tears seem to have no rhyme or reason to them. Simply the body unwinding and releasing the the buried loops of thought. Maybe it’s the small things.
The unprocessed moment of frustration when someone cut you up in traffic a decade ago. Or when you thought you had lost your keys at the funfair. All these small traumas that it turns out you never let go of.
The reconnection of mind and body allows them to bubble to the surface. Sometimes its just be a few small tears, other times a flood with wracking sobs. But you might not be feeling anything. It’s a strange situation.
When it first happens, people can be shook by it deeply. Feel silly for crying etc.
You may feel a little more sensitive for a few days afterwards. Wearing your emotions a little closer to the surface than normal. Another small incident that otherwise you would have brushed off and left unprocessed can upset you. This is fine. Just let the emotions flow.
Its remarkable just how freeing this process is. Eventually if you are doing enough meditation, It makes your head explode and you can focus on old traumas specifically. On much deeper engrained loops of thought.
Your first terrible kiss. Or that time you said something stupid in a meeting. Resentment over getting picked last at school or whatever. These are more identifiable loops of thought that anyone who is kept awake at night by a busy brain can identify with.
Instead of doing mindfulness and noting thoughts as they drift by, you can hold on to them like a mantra and re-experience them. Processing it as an adult and letting it go.
A friend who runs was recently saying something similar. Sometimes they’ll get stuck on a thought as they are running. Every step fills them up with the memory, until they are completely full of it. Yes they are running but their mind is full and that’s when the tears start and they run it to its conclusion.
Life is just the process of putting one step in front of another.
The script above is the original script I wrote for the episode. It may differ from what ended up in audio due to time constraints.