Have you had a good cry lately?
A massage instructor of mine referred to crying as “washing the windows of your soul.” Sounds pretty accurate to me. It’s funny, though, the way Western cultures treat crying. It’s like masturbation: “Hey, whoa! If you need to do that, that’s your business, but go do that in private!” It’s messy. We don’t like it when people get messy like that in public.
Crying isn’t necessarily about being depressed or falling apart, or anything negative at all. It’s a release of emotion. One of my biggest pet peeves is when people tell children not to cry. Sure, give them a hug, help them feel better. But for the love of Pete, stop telling kids not to cry! Do we really want to create a generation of people who don’t express their emotions? It’s OK to feel things. Don’t be so quick to slap a label on it!
I went for a run in the woods this morning. I was a little over halfway through when I felt something dripping onto my neck. I looked up. No rain. Nothing dripping. I had been crying (probably for awhile) and didn’t even realize it. Ironically, I was listening to very happy music. But the body doesn’t lie. When it’s time for tears to come out, it’s time. And so I took a deep breath, turned off my iPod, bowed my body into balasana and cried until my knees were soaked and all the tears that needed to go were out.
It was a good thing. Crying is good for you–body and soul. When you cry:
* You help prevent a cold. Tears contain enzymes that have both antiviral and antibacterial properties. You are flushing out cold germs along with any emotional bacteria.
* You release endorphins. This is your body’s natural opiate. It’s what gives you that sensation of things being a bit better when you’re done crying.
* You lower your body’s levels of stress hormones like cortisol. This in turn lowers blood pressure and helps stabilize your body.
* You are releasing toxins–the physical kind and the emotional kind.
So how do you do it? If it’s been awhile and you aren’t used to letting it all out, how do you get there?
1. Massage – A deep tissue massage from a therapist you trust is a great way to facilitate a good cry. I have had people cry on my table; I always feel very honored that they are comfortable enough have an emotional release. That said, this isn’t something you get at Massage Envy. Go to someone you’ve seen before (or someone highly recommended) let yourself be quiet during the massage, and let yourself cry if that’s what comes up for you.
2. Yoga -Of course! Actually, yoga can help release tears, and then the release of tears will help deepen your practice. It’s a win-win. Many women (myself included) will have tears arrive at times in Pigeon pose or other deep hip openers. Want to see if there’s a good cry stuck in your throat? Try engaging Jalandhara Bandha. You can feel what’s stuck in your heart and voice that hasn’t been released yet and it feels…well, uncomfortable would be an understatement. After a good cry, once you’ve cleared the decks, it feels energizing and powerful.
3. Music. The specifics on this vary from person to person, but when in doubt: Adele.
4. Be still. Meditate. Be quiet. Shut your thoughts off (and your iPhone, and your laptop, and your music, and your television) for at least ten minutes. See what’s going on in there.
5. Hug a good friend for a little longer than normal. If he or she has a cry stuck in there, it might help you both. If not, you have someone you love to help dry you off once you’re done.
So if you are overdue, and you know it, get your cry on. “It’s alright to cry, it might make you feel better!”