At a recent course I was teaching I casually mentioned my practice of crying meditation and someone asked, “Where can I find the instructions for that?” so I thought I’d offer them to you, dear HeartWorks community. I must admit I hadn’t thought of it as a legitimate practice to teach, but I find it to be powerful and cleansing in my own personal practice, and it’s really quite simple.
A few words of safety first:
- If you are prone to overwhelming sadness or depression, this is probably not a good meditation for you at the moment. Please check with your therapist, healer or teacher if you are unsure.
- Similarly, if you’re experiencing a current traumatic situation, you probably don’t need more stimulus for tapping into emotion. Once again, please check with your therapist, healer or teacher if you are unsure.
- Also, if you need to immediately move afterwards into a situation where you’ll have to put your emotions aside and “get on with the job,” it might be best to wait until you’re in a more personally connecting space.
Alternatively, if you are sensing that there are some emotions that you haven’t quite been able to allow to surface, and you’re in a good space to support yourself emotionally, this might be a way to release those unexpressed emotions.
Here are the instructions:
- Find your favorite touching music track: you know, that one that makes your body tingle and your emotions rise up through your being – I know you have them. It’s not necessarily the lyrics that might be touching, maybe it’s the beat or the bass or the way the music is arranged that really moves you. See below for some of my favorites.
- Find a comfortable space where you can be alone for at least 10 minutes.
- It’s best to use headphones so that you can listen to the music deeply, hearing each nuance, every beat, every instrument. Headphones also help to drown out other noises in your environment.
- Play the music at a volume that is stirring – not too loud, but also not too soft.
- Simply sit and allow the music to fill your being. Give yourself over to the music.
- Allow yourself to feel and release any emotions that rise up, without getting hooked by any stories that arise with them. We’re focussing on the emotion in the body, not the story in the mind.
- Allow yourself to cry if that is what happens. Don’t suppress the tears. We cry when we feel safe and we cry as a way to release emotion.
- If you find your awareness has moved to thought or to analyzing the music or to judging your response, gently bring your awareness back to your body and allow it to have its experience.
- Once you reach the end of the piece of music, rest in your awareness. Notice how you feel. Be very gentle with yourself.
- If you feel there is more within you wanting to be expressed, you might play the piece of music again or play another, similarly touching piece of music. Your body will tell you if there is more to express.
- Make sure you rest at the end of this practice. You might even like to journal about your experience.
- Transition back into your usual daily activities gently.
The reason music can help us release emotion is because when we listen to touching, emotionally rousing music it causes a cascade of oxytocin to flood our system; oxytocin is the “tend and befriend” neurochemical that makes us feel safe; when we feel safe we are able to release pent up emotion through crying (or other physical feelings of release). Not a lot of research has been done on the connection between music and neurochemicals, but the bottom line is that if this works for you, it works, and if it doesn’t, it doesn’t. I suggest you always approach your practice as an experiment and an adventure, and find what resonates for you personally 😉
I’d love to hear about your experience if you try out crying meditation. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. And if you’d like to keep experimenting with your practice, finding the practices that work for you, you might like to find out more about my Radical Emergent Self-Wisdom Mentoring program. I’d love to have that conversation with you!