Wednesday, December 11, 2013

A Spiritual Workout

"The soul would have no rainbow if the eyes had no tears." —Native American proverb

One of my favorite books to listen to is the Chicken Soup for the Soul series.  It is inevitable that one of those stories will bring tears to my eyes.  Crying does not seem to be one of those things that many people feel comfortable with doing.  However, I want to challenge you on another way to think about this very primary, fundamental expression of human emotion.

Let me switch gears for a moment and ask you to think about doing one of your favorite physical exercise routines.  If you are like most people, you may not feel you got the most out of your workout if you did not breakout into a “good” sweat.  So for many a good workout is equal to a good release of liquids from your body.  Some experts believe that sweating can flush the body of system-clogging substances like alcohol, cholesterol, and salt.  The benefits for sweating can be enormous and in some cases even profound…bottom line is that it is good for us.

Now let’s go back and think about the release of fluids through a good cry.  For many, you tend to feel better after a good cry.  Additionally, there are many health benefits to crying:

  • Without tears, life would be drastically different for humans—in the short run enormously uncomfortable, and in the long run eyesight would be blocked out altogether.  Jerry Bergman
  • Tears contain lysozyme, a fluid that can kill 90 to 95 percent of all bacteria in just 5-10 minutes!
  • Tears actually remove toxins from our body that build up as a result of stress, while suppressing tears increases stress levels, and contributes to diseases aggravated by stress, such as high blood pressure, heart problems, and peptic ulcers. Jerry Bergman
  • Permitting ourselves a "good cry" can and usually does allow us to recover some mental balance after a loss.
  • Crying is essential to resolve grief, when waves of tears periodically come over us after we experience a loss. Tears help us process the loss so we can keep living with open hearts, according to Judith Orloff.

So think about the last time you had a really good spiritual workout.  You wouldn't think of holding back the sweat on a good workout, so give yourself permission to let your tears flow freely…you will feel better for sure!

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