"Mindfulness Practice isn't just about escaping to some magical inner realm devoid of life's challenges. The Practice is about calming your mind and opening your heart 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 Longtime Student of Meditation

Friday, January 20, 2023

A Good Cry

“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.  Crying includes all the principles of Yoga.”
― Swami Kripalvanandji

“In the Lakota/Sioux tradition, a person who is grieving is considered 
most Wakan, most holy."
Tara Brach

"Blessed be those who mourn, for they will be comforted."
-- Yogi Jesus of Nazareth

Emmett Kelly 1898 - 1979

Some time ago, I came across the quote by Swami Kripalvanandji cited above.  I immediately emailed it to a dear friend who was having a rough time.

She called me later to tell me it helped -- a lot.  After reading it, she immediately headed out to her garden to have a good cry.  She said it was exactly what she needed. 

Big Boys (Girls) Don't Cry
Growing up in contemporary society, most of us have learned to avoid crying like the plague.  Widely seen 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.  Although this conditioning is considered to be a "male," thing, most of the women I know often fight back their tears as well. 
(Strain's of the Four Seasons singing "Big Girls Don't Cry-yay-yay"just ran through my inner iPod)

Hmmmm.  Maybe I shouldn't plunge ahead here.  Although I'm an amateur and would never charge for just sitting still with folks and comparing notes on our experiences with Mindfulness Practice, I might get sued by the Commercial Mindfulness Cartel.  Although the pro's may give a nod to Buddha's first noble truth, that suffering is baked into the human condition, they tend to skip right ahead to Buddha's Third Noble Truth: the Cessation of Suffering.  You don't see any glitzy promotional commercials proclaiming:
Mindfulness Practice: Guaranteed to Make You Cry!   
It might be bad for business.

And yet...
Over the years, it has become quite clear to me (and many others*)Emotional pain doesn't cause suffering.  It really is just what it is.  It is our conditioned resistance to the pain that causes suffering.  Adrift in the pervasive conditioning of today's society, we shut down.  Our hearts become closed.   We lose our connection to our True Nature -- and to one another.  We loose our ability to love wholeheartedly.
Yet it doesn't have to be that way.  With Practice, we can to learn to face life with an open heart and clear mind.  In those moments, Reality Asserts Itself.

A Good Cry

Pain, sorrow, and grief will naturally emerge as we open to and embrace the infinite permutations of Life and Death that are inherent in the human condition.  Yet, most of us have been conditioned to shield our hearts.  Our hearts become armored with layers of unexpressed pain, anger, and fear.  These calcified emotions tend to generate and thrive on story lines full of blame and judgment.  This energy fuels the cycle of violence.   It's why we are in the mess we are in today.  
Yet, it doesn't have to be that way.  Over time, with courage, gentle effort, and patience, we can move past this conditioning. 
Archbishop Desmond Tutu at Truth and Reconciliation Hearing 1996
Ultimately,  our hearts and our bodies will respond authentically to the immediacy of the moment --  our heart will open and honest tears of grief will flow more readily.  As they do, we may find that tears of joy and gratitude will emerge more freely as well.  Such is the path of an Awakened Heart.
Opening to the tears, accepting and embracing Life As It Is moment to moment, changes everything.  We regain our fundamental Connection to ourselves, to one another, and to the One Love that exists within and beyond all that is.

Opening to the Darkness, we open to the Light!  How cool is that?  
It just takes Practice.

 * The tears I shed during the course of a five-day retreat led by the late Stephen Levine and his wife Ondrea decades ago were among the most healing moments of my life.  Levine's talent at crafting guided meditations capable of "opening the heart" was a blessing.   The work of the venerable teacher and activist  JoAnna Macy also honed in on freeing us to heal through embracing our grief skillfully to realize our essential interdependence with all life.  I'm so grateful to have lived at a time that I was able to experience her Presence up close and personal.  (See  Your MMM Courtesy Wake Up Call: Good Grief.)

Originally Posted, May 15, 2015.  Revised.


Anonymous said...

Amen, Brother 🙏 One of my most beloved perspectives ❣️

Dharma Bum69b said...

This "Catharsis" i'm going through has given me ample opportunity for a good cry.