TEARS ON THE SPIRITUAL PATH

By on Jan 21, 2020 in Uncategorized | 2 comments

Tears are God’s gift to us,

They are our holy water.

They heal us as they flow.

Rita Schiano

 

When you open your life to the living

All things come spilling in on you

And you’re flowing like a river.

The Changer and the Changed

You’ve got to spill some over

Spill some over

Spill some over

Over all.

Chris Williamson — Waterfall

 

 

TEARS ON THE SPIRITUAL PATH

Any spiritual path that does not take joy AND suffering seriously is not worthy of attention. There are tears of joy and sadness, ecstasy and sorrow, awe and grief. Our tears, in all their forms, are proof that we are not immune to life in all its shapes. Just as there can be no life without death. There is no joy, without its companions sorrow and grief. It is worth noting that both kinds of tears come from the same pair of eyes. The task on the spiritual path is to make friends with our tears: to rejoice in them and with them as wonderful expressions of our soul. Essentially tears are the way the soul both expresses and cleanses itself.

Tears involve the experience of feeling vulnerability which people tend to be dedicated to avoiding as though it is some sort of pestilence for which the only antidote is fleeing under the cover of denial. Tears are often the stuff of the spiritual path announcing that the heart and soul are opening to life around us. It is interesting to watch people in tears (as any clinician often does). First, they dive for the tissues to wipe them away. Second, they make the entirely unnecessary gesture of apologizing for crying. My response is something approximating, “Tears are a best friend on the journey of healing.” In times of pain or sorrow we tend to brace against the vulnerability holding the body tightly and keeping the breath shallow. Tears are literally the melting of our defensive walls to that which is here in this moment. Sometimes tears sneak up on us like a visitor in the darkness dissolving our rigidity and signaling how important the moment is. The walls surrender to the deep inner flow. In these times they remind us of our depths and that sometimes we cannot control the flow as it rises to the surface.

Tears are a clear liquid secreted by glands in the eyes of all land mammals. They are composed of water, salt, antibodies and lysozymes (antibacterial enzymes). The chemical composition differs slightly according to their cause including irritants and/or various emotions. Emotional tears tend to contain higher concentrations of stress hormones suggesting that the tears play a role in balancing those levels. Tears like every phenomenon have their physiological aspect but cannot be reduced to only or primarily this level. These wonderful chemical, physiological expressions are a language of the soul on its spiritual path as it experiences pain, love, sorrow and joy.

Another aspect of tears is related to cultural aspect of gender. There is a fading (I hope) stereotype that tears are more acceptable for women than men. In addition, my observation is that when women cry the underlying emotion is often anger and the tears are from frustration of needing to learn how to be more directly and clearly angry. In contrast, often when men are angry the underlying energy is of avoiding sadness, vulnerability and powerlessness. Part of the spiritual path is in aligning these cultural expressions with inner integrity and truth.

Wherever and whenever they arrive, they are our friends and deep soul companions worthy of being welcomed as such.

 

1/21/20

 

    2 Comments

  1. Wonderful post, Graham! For me, sometimes my tears are my version of “the chills.” I’ll often be tearing up when others might say they are getting the chills. (I don’t get the chills.) I know I am hearing, feeling, experiencing, etc. the truth.

    Anne Ciota

    January 21, 2020

  2. That is a very interesting connection you have made between tears and “the chills.” I put some thought into that.

    drcampbell200charternet

    January 24, 2020

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