"Mindfulness Practice isn't just about escaping to some magical inner realm devoid of life's challenges. The Practice is about progressively opening your heart and calming your mind enough to engage Life directly, to be more fully Present in a kind, clear, and helpful way."
Your MMM Courtesy Wake Up Call! Musings on Life and Practice by a Long-time Student of Meditation.
Friday, May 15, 2015
For Crying Out Loud!
“Crying is one of the highest devotional songs. One who knows
crying, knows spiritual practice. If you can cry with a pure heart,
nothing else compares to such a prayer.
“All the books of the world full of thoughts and poems are nothing in
comparison to a minute of sobbing, when feeling surges in waves,
soul feels itself profoundly and finds itself." ―
The Fairy Tales of Hermann Hesse
Emmet Kelly 1898-1979
A couple of days ago I came across the above quote by Swami Kripalvanandji while preparing for a yoga class that I was going to teach later that day. Amazed, I immediately emailed it to a dear friend of mine who was having a rough time.
She replied that it helped -- a lot. She was heading out to her garden to have a good cry.
Growing up in today's society, most of us have learned to avoid crying like the plague. Widely characterized as a sign of unacceptable weakness and frailty, we are conditioned to keep a stiff upper lip, to steel ourselves against this natural expression of heartfelt feeling. As a result, our patterns of resistance to crying are pretty pervasive. (Maybe Fear of Crying is a good title for another novel of self-discovery?)
That being said, I actually hesitated to plunge ahead here. After posts concentrating on death, pain and sadness the past couple weeks, I thought that maybe I was being too much of a downer, that maybe I'd better "lighten up" a bit. After all, isn't Buddha's Third Noble Truth the freakin' Cessation of Suffering?
What has become clear to me, and to many others*, is that there is a profound difference between pain and suffering. The natural experience and expression of pain, like the natural experience and expression of joy, emerges from our True Nature, the capacity of our hearts and minds to touch deeply the Reality of Life as it is. It is our conditioned resistance to the pain that causes suffering.
There is such a thing as a Good Cry. The release of tears is a natural healing process. I think that is what Yogi Jesus was teaching when he proclaimed "Blessed be those who mourn, for they will be comforted."
Here's the Deal:
Pain, sorrow, grief will naturally emerge as we open to the infinite permutations of Life and Death that are inherent in the human condition. Over the years I've found that the emotions of fear and anger are often conditioned shields against the deeper feelings. They generate storylines full of blame and judgment that tend to keep us in our heads and "out of our hearts." Letting go of those thoughts and opening to the array of feelings that emerge, a skill developed in the Practice, the process deepens.
Ultimately, our hearts and our bodies will respond authentically to the immediacy of the moment -- and honest tears will flow to melt away the resistances to our fundamental Connection to the One Love. Opening to the tears, through the tears, we access the infinite pool of open, clear, peaceful, accepting Awareness that permeates all possible universes. In opening to the Darkness, we open to the Light! How cool is that? It just takes Practice.
For crying out loud!
* I'm grateful to have attended retreats with two teachers from the Buddhist tradition, JoAnna Macy and Stephen Levine, who have focused extensively on practices to access the deeper dimensions of the Open Heart. I wrote about their work and included links to their websites at Your MMM Courtesy Wake Up Call: Good Grief.