Tears

It is the case that sometimes we cry when we practice.  We cry for sadness, sometimes old sadnesses that have lain within us for years, sometimes for sadnesses that are current in our lives.  Sometimes the tears rise in us and we are not sure what they are for or what they are about - they seem to arrive unbidden, without any of the concomitant emotion that we are used to experiencing at the same time as we cry... the tears seem to come as a kind of uplifting within us, not sadness, not grief, but a simple ascendance of life, of feeling, of love.  This is what my teacher Mukunda calls ojas, the essential sap of life.  As unused as we  may be to weeping, as vulnerable as it might make us feel to cry in class, as little as we might understand it, we should hope not to be afraid of it, or embarrassed by it, or to try to swallow it back down.  It is a beautiful thing, this experience of spirit. 

Here is what Elizabeth Lesser says about it:

"Feelings also rise during meditation.  They often rush into the empty space created when we slow down and sit still.  At every retreat that I have participated in there are times when crying can be hard in the room.  To an outsider it would appear strange to see a room full of people sitting in meditation on the floor or in chairs, some upright, some bent over, crying softly.  A strange sight, indeed.  But a beautiful one also.  There is something so noble about the pure expression of feelings.  When drama or sentimentality is absent, tears are like a healing river moving freely through us."

We don't need to seek out these feelings, but when they do rise we might try to recognise them as a gift, a sign of our humanity, something to take notice of and be grateful for, something quite wonderful and intrinsically part of our yoga practice.

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