March 5, 2014

The Healing Power of Tears: 5 Poignant Quotes to Move Us Beyond Regret.


“The cure for anything is salt water: sweat, tears or the sea.”

~ Isak Dinesen

I’m sitting in bed underneath cozy layers of blankets; sheets tucked in around my thighs.

Morning light streams in from my bedroom windows. An almost overwhelming sliver hits my eye slightly, but not enough to adjust myself; just enough to feel alive within a new and glowing morning.

Streaks of shadows play across my rose and green, leaf-patterned quilt. I could stare at these hazy, darkened lines for hours, making shapes and seeing silhouettes like I did as a child in a rainy car, with beads of water falling down our family van’s windows.

My eyes are puffy and my mind isn’t quite awake yet, despite already having breakfast, getting dressed and dropping my child off at school.

The space heater to the right of my bed pumps out warm air, making a nest of welcoming space directly around my sage green yoga mat.

My heart feels warm too and I can almost feel this warmth creep up my throat and, instead of flowing out of my mouth, it moves out through my fingertips. I hear the clickity-clack, clickity-clack of my typing and I recognize the sensation of feeling truly alive.

I’ve connected my coveted laptop to my portable but large-ish black iPod dock with a rather lengthy cord so that I can listen to unfamiliar music on NPR’s First Listen.

The raging guitars remind me of my rebellious, lively youth and I know that they’re a distinct part of the heat that radiates, not from my small space heater, but from my beating, thriving chest.

And how do we come back to life?

Because last week was a wonderful one for me, but I felt fatigued and low on patience.

I still practiced yoga but, in all honesty, none of my practices felt good to either my body or my soul, and I felt a disconnect as wide as the canyons I’ve hiked between who I wanted to see staring back at me from the mirror last week and who I actually gazed at.


And tears prick my eyes, but they don’t trickle down my cheeks and drop in fluid puddles on my keyboard of letters, where I can see my watery heart laid bare, raw and exposed around my moving fingertips.

No, this morning tears tickle my eyes and that’s exactly the word to describe why: my amused emotions want to extend their joy and gratitude out toward my body where, naked, they can be seen in the glassy splashes of my spirit.

“There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are the messengers of overwhelming grief, of deep contrition, and of unspeakable love.”

~ Washington Irving

But when life threatens to limit our self-held beliefs and our understanding of our own capabilities through its occasionally harsh reality and simple, daily human wear, it’s easy to forget how to weep for love and light.

One Hindu legend offers that Lord Shiva opened his eyes after a long yogic meditation and began to weep; his tears growing into the rudraksha tree, whose seeds are used traditionally in mala prayer beads—Shiva’s compassionate tears for all of humanity became tools to then help heal.

“But a mermaid has no tears, and therefore she suffers so much more.”

~ Hans Christian Andersen, The Little Mermaid

Because we need to flow through the full range of our human experience in order to not only come alive, but to live with a profound sense of peace and happiness and ease.

And who of us can taste victory without first going through a defeat?

Where is the person who can know love without having been heartbroken?

How can we be healed and whole if we haven’t also fallen apart?

“There are more tears shed over answered prayers than over unanswered prayers.”

~ Saint Teresa of Avila

So on this morning, when the light streams through my bedroom window and falls, along with a few tears, onto my rose and green, leaf-patterned quilt, I count my blessings in each earned droplet.

I turn my head gently to the left and see the reddest of cardinals outside my window, with snow sprinkling his bark-covered perch, and I know that winter is coming to its close and spring—with its re-birth and beauty and elation—is caressing the underside of the earth and advancing on the clear but frigid blue sky—and I know in my churning, beating, watery heart that I’ll enjoy my own youthful, dawning reincarnation much more having equally experienced my own wintry downfall too.

“No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader.”

~ Robert Frost



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Editor: Catherine Monkman

Photos: Courtesy of Author, elephant journal archives

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