2 + LESSON: Why do we cry?

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When we’re first born, crying is one of our most effective forms of communication.

We give other non-audible cues as well, rubbing the eyes when sleepy, nomming the fist when hungry, but if our wants and needs aren’t met these subtle signals quickly become fussing and crying.

Parents often become experts at interpreting their baby’s different cries. The hungry cry sounds different from the sleepy cry. The bowel movement squirm and squeal is different from a pain or fear cry.

As adults we still cry. When very hungry, or exhausted, when in pain or afraid. We can cry when in states of empathy, joy, relief, grief, loss, and anxiety.

My suggestion in this lesson, is to consider that as adults our crying is still communication. We’re signaling something. We are expressing something, and most of the time we are, like babies, asking for something.

Think of your different cries.

Do you have a cry when you need comfort? Is your lonely cry different from your injustice cry? Have you ever cried at a funeral? What were you communicating? What did you want or need?

Not all adults and children cry with tears, brains come in different flavors. If you are someone who can’t relate to crying with tears, then you can think about other ways that you communicate when you need help. What if you needed help and couldn’t speak? Would you wave your arms? What would your face do? How would that effort to signal someone feel in your body? Sometimes unsettled arms and legs or tension in the body can be our way of crying, and if fully uncorked our cry might be less like tears and sobbing and more like physical thrashing.

In fact, as spiritworkers, we could note that almost all of us have ways that we cry without tears, even if we also cry with tears. We have more options than babies. Do I cry by putting myself down in front of others so that they will soothe me? Do I cry by drinking a whole bottle of wine to soothe my physical or psychological pain? Do I cry by getting stomach ulcers? Do I cry by compulsively worrying? Does my sobbing sound like spinning thoughts or obsessions?

Do I cry by getting angry, because crying is scary and weak and reminds us of being helpless like an infant? Or do I cry like an infant because I’m afraid of being angry? Because angry is strong and overwhelming and reminds us of unkind and unsafe experiences?

Babies and adults alike often cry when overwhelmed. When we don’t even know what emotion we’re having, crying becomes a method of expressing sensory and psychic overload when words and reason fail us.

Lastly, in Spiritwork, there are the tears of the Soul. We’ve talked about the Soul as being titanic and oceanic, our unique soul a wave on infinite waters, somewhat identifiable from the whole ocean, but certainly not separate from the whole.

When the soul is restricted in the body and we start to allow it to move again inside of us, it’s not unusual to experience waves of tears. Sometimes we cry because we’re afraid to uncork the soul, to be powerful, to change.

Sometimes we cry because we did uncork the soul, and now old bottled emotions that had been stuck in the body are finally in motion again and are being eliminated -- in this way weeping becomes a method of “grounding.”

Sometimes the soul tears are cathartic, connected tears, like the kind you might shed when listening to beautiful music. They are tears of empathy, of a connection that transcends words, a feeling of being part of something so vast and so beautiful. We feel the ocean again and we weep.

Sometimes they are relieved tears, because no matter that the mind knew we “weren’t alone” -- we felt alone, because when we are disconnected from our soul then we are disconnected from everyone else’s soul too! When awareness of soul returns, awareness of our connection to all souls returns and we weep in relief, and in compassion for the many voices of the world.

Often these tears come when we shift quickly from a state of tension to a state of release, letting go, giving up, or relief. The orchestra creates a dramatic crescendo, the music reaches a peak, everyone holds their breath, and when the chord resolves and releases everyone relaxes and the tears of awe flow.

Often a child who becomes lost goes quiet and wide-eyed, stressed and searching, and only bursts into tears once they are found. Their tears are telling a story.

Babies teach us that crying takes many forms. Babies teach us that crying is communication.