Holding space for tears and laughter

Posted on Posted in Healing

Crying baby with Golda Meir Quote

“Those who don’t know how to weep with their whole heart, don’t know how to laugh either.” —Golda Meir

The quote by Golda Meir is one of my favorite quotes and it is in Chapter 6 of From Scared to Scared which I entitled The Inner Marshmallow.

Both tears and laughter have great cleansing power. Babies cry when they are uncomfortable and laugh when the world delights them. It is spontaneous and natural. As adults we judge our tears. It’s right there in our language, “Don’t be a cry baby!” Many of us also judge our laughter. I know that when I laugh really hard I make this gasping noise that used to embarrass me. It took me years to not be embarrassed by my air sucking hard laugh. If you laugh at my laugh, I’m simply adding more joy to the world.

So often clients will have some sort of cathartic response to the energy work we do together and as the tears or laughter flow as the body shakes off the old stuff, I hear, “I am sorry I am crying.” The first thing I say, “This is what we are here for. Let the tears flow. Let the giggles come up. Let the power of those feelings in that tender place inside rise up. What you feel has all sorts of messages for you. You don’t have to act on any of it but let it flow and see what it has to tell you.”

Recently I was visiting a friend who had experienced a series of frustrating days. As she started to tell me about it, her eyes welled up with tears. Something whispered to me just to open my arms and hug her if she wanted to be hugged. We stood hugging for several minutes and I could feel her tears on my neck. The impulse to say something to try to fix it was strong but fortunately the impulse to hold sacred space for her was stronger. It was a beautiful moment where our human hearts touched. Who hasn’t has a week where we were so frustrated that we wanted to cry? Who hasn’t wanted to be held like we would that baby in the photo on the top of the page. Most of us would not hesitate to pick up the baby who was crying; and yet when adults are struggling we feel awkward and inadequate.

In that moment words weren’t really necessary; connection, understanding and space holding were. She knew it would be okay. She knew it was temporary. Her spirit knew that she wasn’t defined by this moment. But her human heart needed the space to process it all. She needed at that moment to be frustrated with her whole heart and then not surprisingly at all, soon after we were laughing about the things that had happened. We had cleared the space for the new insight to come to her all on its own.

We have all had the opposite experience of being cut off when you are trying to express a deeply felt emotion where the person you are with immediately tries to shut it down and move to solution. It makes some part of the soul feel unseen. Most of us don’t need someone selling us solutions. We need someone to see us where we are and to tell us to just feel it and I’ll hold you physically or energetically as those deep beautiful feelings flow through.

There is deep beauty in allowing those feelings.
It takes courage to step into the unknown with someone and hold them while the emotions flow through. It brings up all our unresolved and judged places, all the places we feel inadequate and don’t have the answers. And yet in that place of unknowing, there is a connection. There is compassion. There is release. There is healing. There is hope.

This week I am going to notice and fully feel my own emotions and not be so quick to tell myself they are wrong. Instead I am going to create space for them to express themselves–journal, art, a good cry, dancing in my living room, whatever the emotions need. And when I’m with others, I am going to check my need to fix (which is a big one for me as a doer personality) and instead open my heart to surround the person in love and compassion first. Trusting that the fix may actually just be that beautiful space of being heard and witnessed.

If you decide to join me, let me know how it goes.

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