இயற்கை முறைக் கல்வி

Friday, October 8, 2010

Cry if you feel like it!

Accompanied by her 30 year old daughter, my 55 year old aunt came home suffering from great pain in her heart, both literally and figuratively. She was holding back her tears at her daughter's insistence "Amma, don't cry! Don't cry! Is your crying going to help you in any way? Don't cry! Don't cry!" I could easily imagine a situation where, about a few dacades ago, when the little daughter must have gotten hurt or felt abandoned and cried aloud, and the mother must have told her to not cry. She was not to be blamed. She was only telling her mom what she had been told by her then.

I held my aunt's hand tightly and said, "If you feel like crying, please cry! Please cry!" Even before I finished my sentence, she exploded into tears uncontrollably. Her daughter was watching quite baffled by what I had just done. I could see her asking herself, 'What kind of a person would ask someone to cry!!' In the middle of all this, some first aid, massaging, comforting, crying and all, I explained to the daughter why it is helpful to release one's emotions by crying. I don't know how much of it she was able to digest! After a few minutes, my aunt visibly calmed down and thanked me with her tears and a little smile.

Like, all of us, I'm a survivor of many many messages about 'Do's and don'ts' of the collective unconscious of our society, our culture. One of them is 'Don't cry! Be bold', 'Only the weak cry!', 'Good girls don't cry, bad girls cry'. There is also another subtle way to suppress the tears - the one where we are quick to distract the crying child with a toy, a goody, or something! It is the result of our society's collective mandate to "be positive, whatsoever". Plenty of laughters and smiles is a sign of a good person.

But think about this. When someone (baby or adult) feels like crying, it is because they are overwhelmed by a feeling of sadness - from hurt, abandonment, loss, etc. - and they are trying to release it in the form of tears. If they don't let the tears out, what will happen to the emotion? Where will it go? It can either bloat up the 'pain body' that we carry with us everywhere, making us explode in unhealthy ways whenever triggered. Orl like psychologists and physiologists are now saying, they can get stored in our cells as biological memory and manifest as serious diseases and disorders, and sometimes as physiological symptoms which have no apparent diagnosis! Child psychologist Dr.Aletha Solter swears by the fact that, allowing children to cry (with or without any apparent reason), accompanied by compassionate holding and reassuring words, helps them grow up into happy, healthy, compassionate adults. Training them to control their crying because it is 'not the done thing', makes them grow up into hurt, unhealthy adults not capable of much compassion in their hearts. I agree with her not only because it makes intuitive sense to me, but also because I know it from my experience.

I'm a survivor of some 'strange illnesses' without any proper diagnosis. A couple of psychic healers who read my energy told me that it was my childhood trauma that was manifesting as these. I had no (still don't have any!) memory of trauma during my childhood years. I had thought I'd had a very happy childhood indeed. But may be I was a very sensitive child and controlled my tears a lot? I don't know. But once I gave myself the license to cry with a deep acceptance of my sadness, I made use of some opportunities to cry, to wail it out like a baby. It is not the kind of crying, where you wallow in the pain telling yourself 'Oh poor me! Look at what's happened to me. How miserable I am! This is unfair. This is terrible!' This kind of crying can add layers of dirt to cut through, when you are ready to begin your healing. The crying I am talking about is a very different kind, where you feel so empowered that you have no need to wallow in your pain anymore; so confident that you are ready to tear off the happy-face mask; so in touch with yourself that you don't need to hide behind masks. I have found it most empowering and healing when I have looked at myself into the mirror while crying, sincerely asking "Who is feeling the pain? Who is crying?" questions that the mystic Ramana has taught me to ask of myself. These questions that I ask as I look into those glistening red eyes, as I savour those salty drops sliding onto my lips, hold the magical power to healing and liberation from the suffering. With practise, the ease with which we cry this way increases, and the need to cry itself comes down. Until one day, we are all smiles and laughter. The kind that is real, and that springs from the pure joy of being, not from the happy-face mask that we have trained ourselves to wear.

9 comments:

Avantika said...

Beautiful post Sangee!! And so perceptive. I've always thought about how pradoxical we are, especially in the South.
A man for instance would be considered rather crazy if he cried. There's so much of an onus on him to be strong all the time. I think crying is a great way to deal with stress, the pressure on the heart.
I think the problem arises when the cause of the tears (If there is one!) gets analyzed and dissected and over analyzed and over dissected and manifests as an "issue" for the person.
The point is to cry and move on. Release and heal. Period.

maya seshagiri said...

beautiful :). I cry often Sangi. Quite often and most of the times can t pin point the exact reason.I used to feel like a sissy b4.But later felt blessed.Ability to cry I felt was linked to being empathetic.Thanks for sharing.

samantha said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
samantha said...

Thank u so much sangi for writing such a lovely piece of article....u know i do cry often...all the times u have held me close and comforted me when i shed buckets of tears...they actually helped me to come in terms with the reality...a sense of acceptance and positive empowerment like u used to say....i agree with every word u say...pls keep writing as often as u can....u inspire people like me....lotsa love n hugs to u and i miss u terribly:)

Aravinda said...

Well done and well said. Bravo for being there to help in the time of need.

wrt crying, I feel: If you can, lend a shoulder, an ear, a hug, or just a safe space, staying available if called. Do NOT demand answers from those who are crying, or those who are comforting them. When someone asks me, "Why is she crying?" unless there is a concrete way they can help, I generally reply, "I'll tell you later."

-Lura- said...

:)

Sangeetha Sriram said...

@ Avantika: So true! What I wrote was only about 'girls and crying'. Don't even get me started on 'boys and crying'! 'The society' loves it when they wear these masks of 'strength', which when they wear a lot, 'in the name of being objective' they forget how to get in touch with their own feelings, over time!

@ Samantha, Maya: Hugs! :)

@ Arul: Your smiley comment on this post means a lot to me! :)

Sathish said...

Can't stop myself from crying when see, read.. about selfless acts...

Priya Desikan said...

Beautifully said Sangeetha!...just want to add that my son has taught me many times, that sometimes one needs to just hold "the space" with the child or person rather than hold the person physically...that is usually harder to do I feel, because often one feels that one is not doing anything!