Saint Peter Weeping in the Presence of the Sorrowful Mother by Guercino, 1647
Saint Peter Weeping in the Presence of the Sorrowful Mother by Guercino, 1647

Now that we have settled into a routine and “tilled the spiritual ground” so-to-speak, we are ready to engage self-transformation on a deeper level. Today we are focusing on the healing power of tears, which doesn’t mean you have to hide under your pillow and cry all day. What we are talking about here is a two-fold process of emotional healing: the first part is turning toward, instead of away from, painful emotions; the second part is opening up your heart chakra, your throat chakra and your eye of wisdom.

As you continue to deepen your spiritual work, tears may come more easily. When you are watching a sad story on the news or hearing of the death of a distant relative, or contemplating the suffering of others may all move you deeply to the point of tears. “The gift of tears” is a term used for a special ‘power’ ascribed to many saints of every spiritual tradition. The Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara cried so passionately over the suffering of humanity that his head exploded. Kwan Yin is often depicted perched over humanity, blessing them with her tears. Pope Francis teaches us that tears remind us of our capacity for love and compassion.

*This work comes from many sources including “Feeding Your Demons” by Lama Tsultrim, the chapter on “Emotional Eating” from “What are you hungry for?” by Deepak Chopra, Sensation Method Homeopathic case taking as I learned it at the Catalyst School of Homeopathy and from my years of training and teaching Butoh which emphasizes embodiment and expression of deeply held emotional patterns as a way of catharsis and freedom.*

Turning toward

“By turning toward your painful emotions—especially those you tend to label as negative—you will start to feel a more embodied sense of wholeness, a sense of internalized reunion and communion.” -Robert Augustus Masters, “The Restorative Power of Tears”, spiritualityhealth.com

Sit comfortably and take a few deep breaths. With your mind’s eye scan your body for tension. Notice what you notice. At this point we’re not trying to change or manipulate anything. Simply be with the tension or pain exactly as it is. Acknowledge this tension by saying for example, “I am holding tension in my jaw. It feels tight as if it’s would up with wire. The tightness from the wires keeps me from speaking freely. When I can’t speak freely I feel frustrated. This frustration is okay, it’s okay to feel frustrated. I’m allowed to be frustrated. It’s part of my experience.”

Here’s a basic script to help guide you through turning toward difficult emotions:

“I am holding tension…..It feels (physical sensation)…this (physical sensation) is like (image, whatever comes to mind). This (image) keeps me from….when I can’t….I feel (emotion). 

This (negative emotion) is okay, it’s okay to feel (emotion). I’m allowed to be (emotion). (Emotion) is part of my experience.” 

It is necessary to be able to embrace every facet of our being in order to discover our true self. The pressure to be positive cuts us off from our darkness and its riches,” Masters shares in his article on “The Restorative Power of Tears.” Becoming intimately acquainted with our darkness, and being able to embrace and accept painful emotions is not a quick-fix, of course. But it is a profound and necessary step along the spiritual path. “We all have our learning.” as my mom just reminded me.

Opening Up

Now that we have gotten in touch with ourselves, in a deeper, more authentic way, are you ready to allow your emotions their natural expression? Think for a moment, how long has it been since you’ve cried? Or, was there a time in your life when you had to choke back or suppress your tears – and never found a way to give that moment full expression? Deepak Chopra in his book “What are you hungry for?” recommends a practice of remembering a time of hurt or of grief. Bring the details of that moment into your mind’s eye – who was present, what were the circumstances, etc. If you had allowed your emotions full expression, how would that situation have been different?

Just by remembering a painful situation, we find our bodies responding with tension, with a knot in the stomach or tightness in the throat. Now, at this moment:

Take a deep breath. As you exhale, imagine your heart space opening like a blossoming flower. Allow your jaw to relax. 

Take another deep breath. As you exhale, open up your throat and release a sound, whatever sound embodies this emotion. 

Take another deep breath. As you exhale, give the emotion it’s fullest expression (of course, without injuring yourself or others or attracting too much attention). Ride the wave, or waves, take your time. When you’ve released completely for the moment, sit quietly, breathe normally.

The final step is to acknowledge the courage and strength that it took to face your negative emotions and embrace them. If you wish to delve deeper into this kind of practice, I recommend finding a qualified guide or group setting where emotions can be freely and safely expressed. Personal or group therapy, homeopathic treatment or contemplative movement classes are widely available.

 

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