I'd like to dedicate this blog to the fearless orangutang who singlehandedly fought to stop a bulldozer that was cutting down the last remaining tree of its habitat, the wreckage of its home in the Ketapang district in west Borneo. A tragic example of how separated we have become from our embodied cousins. The loggers ability to do his job, seemingly without any remorse, a clear representation of how emotionally repressed and numb humans have the capacity to be and how destructive that is to all of life. I've posted the footage at the bottom of the blog.
The Miriam Webster dictionary definition of repression is as follows:
A mental process by which distressing thoughts, memories, or impulses that may give rise to anxiety are excluded from consciousness and left to operate in the unconscious.
"When you shut down emotion, you're also affecting your immune system and your nervous system. So the repression of emotion, which is a survival strategy, then becomes a source of physiological illness later on" - Gabor Maté M.D
Crying is one way to set these emotions free.. It is a deep, cathartic expression of emotional release. When a deep sob gets triggered by the autonomic nervous system, it rises up from the belly, where so much of our emotions are held, producing convulsions in our abdominal muscles that echo out along the fascia and neural pathways of our entire system. Tears are produced, beautiful droplets of our humanness containing hormones that soothe, calm and reduce pain. A releasing of toxins too, that our bodies need to evacuate.
For me, crying is healing. It is regenerative and cleansing. It frees me from the weight of a tough week but also long held pain and sadness so I am more able to feel joy, appreciation and empathy for others. It is an exorcism of the darker energies that accumulate in my emotional centre. It allows life force energy to flow more freely around my body. I am able to stand firmer on the earth and know myself more clearly. When I cry, I am able to connect to all the myriad of different emotions that come with it. Negative or positive, As much as is possible in the moment, I allow them all to be felt, witnessed and honoured.
I don't cry for attention or for pity, when I cry this way, it's almost always alone. I know my emotions and my physical sensations are so strongly intertwined that surpressssing my feelings has a strong visceral effect on my entire physiology. In this crazy, polarised world of creation, destruction, beauty, heartache, love and loss, it keeps me sane.
For those of us who are out of touch (aren't able to touch) their emotions or are unable to accurately detect the sensations in their bodies, crying doesn't come easy. As difficult emotions rise up - frustration, fear, anger, sadness - instead of moving through, they get stuck in the area around the solar plexus or the throat. They then get swallowed back down and ‘trapped’ in the body.
I get that it is difficult to sit with these kinds of emotions, they can be very uncomfortable to experience. It's no wonder we use all kinds of avoidance and distraction strategies to prevent feeling them but its important that we do.
If you were silenced or teased as a child or perhaps you hold the belief that crying is a weakness. Men especially, can hold this view. There are many reasons why people struggle to express their pain and sadness. Sometimes as children, emotions were so intense and overwhelming, we learn to shut our entire system down in what therapists call a freeze response which over time, becomes a built in mechanism which we take into adult hood. Neurotic holding patterns develop, we learn to hold back the spotenatity in our body which creates tensions particularly around the shoulders, neck, jaw and the chest. Breathing becomes more shallow. Anxiety and depression my arise and further down the road, chronic illnesses may develop.
Perhaps there is a feeling that to let go fully and allow these buried emotions out, there may be a loss of control, so much so, they may cause someone or something harm so it’s important that these emotions are brought to the surface in a safe and healthy way.
In these instances somatic exercises can be very effective. I’ve written about this in other blogs and I do offer sessions. If you feel drawn to know more please get in touch
The main message I wanted to express is that there is absolutely no shame in allowing difficult emotions to move through you. It gets easier over time to recognise them plus the feeling of holding on to them begins to feel much heavier than the momentary discomfort of releasing. Crying is in no way a sign of weakness, in fact it can be a pathway to the source of your true power and strength.
In love and wholeness
“Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding.
Even as the stone of the fruit must break, so that it's heart may stand in the sun, so must you know pain.
And could you keep your heart in wonder at the daily miracles of your life,
your pain would not seem less wondrous than your joy;
And you would accept the seasons of your heart, even as you have always accepted the seasons that pass over your fields.
And you would watch with serenity through the winters of your grief.
Much of your pain is self-chosen.
It is the bitter potion by which the physician within you heals your sick self.
Therefore trust the physician, and drink his remedy in silence and tranquillity:
For his hand, though heavy and hard, is guided by the tender hand of the Unseen,
And the cup he brings, though it burn your lips, has been fashioned of the clay which the Potter has moistened with His own sacred tears.”
by Khalil Gibran