June 18, 2015 tylandrum

Crying in Yoga

Sometimes we have to cry. The music of our emotions rises to a crescendo and the tears come pouring out. The touch of saltwater running down the face is one of the sweetest consolations of the body. In moments of despair, there is nothing more soothing to the senses.

Tears belong to a number of distinct emotions. These include sorrow, remorse, fury and grief, but also adoration, exultation and devotional longing. All of these emotions carry an intense psychical current, and the release of that current is exhilarating.

When we practice yoga, these emotions can arise rather quickly and bring us to tears. But yoga invites us not to cry. There is nothing wrong with crying, and the suppression of the impulse to cry would be anathema to the practice. But yoga provides us with tools to release the psychical currents that underlie these emotions more completely than we could with crying.

The act of crying always reinforces some pattern of emotional expression, and yoga teaches us to disrupt such patterns before they take shape. Through the disruption of those patterns, we can slowly liberate ourselves from the subconscious forces that underlie them. That is, we can release the psychical energy behind those patterns, and make our minds a little lighter than before.

To avail ourselves of this opportunity, we have to suspend ordinary habits of thought. In particular, we have to suspend our habit of imposing our concepts upon the psychical forces that underlie crying. As soon as we place these forces under concepts, they take a particular sensational or emotional form in our minds. This form is then reflected immediately in the body, and the physiological signs of the relevant emotion begin to appear.

Instead of giving emotional form to these forces, we can allow them to arise in their nascent state. That is, we can allow these forces to course through our bodies without placing them under a concept, and so without channeling them into the distinctive pathways that are involved in crying.

This means allowing ourselves to experience something quite intense and unfamiliar, without knowing what will happen in turn. It means holding the doors of our subconscious minds wide open, so that unseen forces can come welling to the surface as pure psychical energy.

When we allow these forces to come to awareness in their nascent state, without imposing upon them any particular emotional form, they move through channels of sensation that would otherwise remain closed. They quicken our senses and heighten our awareness of our own embodiment. This experience is one of the fine exhilarations of Hatha Yoga. It takes us outside of ourselves, outside of the space in which our stories reign, allowing us to experience ourselves more directly.

When we progress in this practice, we open channels for psychical release, not only for ourselves, but for the people around us. The forces of our collective consciousness can move more openly through us, without catching us up in their currents. And the more openly those forces can move, the more quickly their tensions resolve. So by holding ourselves open, we can allow those forces to dissipate in the expanse of our bodies before they take any particular emotional form.

As we learn to accept the movements of larger psychical force through our bodies, we can begin to shift the tenor of the situations in which we find ourselves. We can redirect the forces that underlie emotions like anger, resentment, attachment, fear, jealousy and greed before they take their destructive forms. We can leverage these forces toward something more positive, thus promoting kindness, forgiveness, and mutuality, without having to suppress or deceive ourselves about our true feelings.

This is not some supernatural ability, just true openness to the vital forces that course through us and connect us all. Through the assiduous practice of yoga, we can learn to move those forces through every cell of our bodies, and resolve the tensions that gather within them without shedding a tear.