The “emotion” associated with Autumn is Grief…but many people seem to have disassociated themselves from this innate response. In our culture we have been conditioned to not cry every time we’re moved to. How many times as children did we hear “buck up,” “put on a happy face,” “only babies cry,” or even worse, “what are you crying about…I’ll give you something to cry about.” So many of us were conditioned to not let ourselves feel our grief.
Grief is a NORMAL and NATURAL response to when we lose someone or something that is meaningful to us, healing past wounds, and feeling sad about events in our lives. When we let that energy (grief/sadness) move through us, crying actually contributes to emotional and physical healing.
In Chinese medical theory, emotions are forms of Qi (chi). When we allow ourselves to FEEL that Qi, the energy can flow through. When we don't, that energy gets stuck. It can be stuck in the body, mind and/or spirit.
Science has found that crying when sad has
Soothing effects - it activates the peripheral nervous system, the rest and relax state of the nervous system, allowing the body and mind to go into a state of calmness
Helps relieve pain - it releases endorphins and oxytocin and other “feel good” hormones
Enhances and improves mood - by the releasing of all the “feel good” hormones, the body relaxes and the mind is lifted
Reduces stress - with the activation of the peripheral nervous system, the body is able to manage stress and be more resilient
Releases toxins - tears contain stress hormones showing the body is releases those to substances that are noxious to the system
Aids sleep - with the release of the “feel good” hormones, the nervous system can go deep into the calm state
Can make space for letting others support us - it’s a win/win - the people in our lives get to release endorphins by being supportive and we get to activate that part of our being that is reliant on connection
Fights bacteria - tears actually contain an anti-microbial properties
Over the years I have witnessed people confusing grief and depression. We discuss that grief is a healthy response to what is happening in their lives. Depression occurs for a variety of reasons, but one common one is that people have a lot of unresolved grief. If they haven’t let themselves cry it out, FEEL the grief, over time that energy gets pent up and can become depression. This is often described as a CHRONIC feeling of sadness, emptiness, and/or inability to feel pleasure.
Grieving is a process. It takes time. During this time it is natural to feel periods of sorrow, joy, anger, and numbness. Crying is an instrumental part of this process to move and heal the grief.
Allowing space to cry from the heart (truly feeling the feelings that are moving through you) is a necessary part of healing the grief. Be careful about “crying from the head.” This tends to be more of ego-mind based cry, which tends to keep people in the negative feedback loop and doesn’t release those hormones. For some, it’s obsessing about the thing they’re sad about, others feel victimized, and others are holding onto a situation out of a need to be right.
As with all things, we want to go with the (Qi) flow. If the Autumn season is making space to release grief, be it something present or past, allow it. You’ll keep your body, mind, and spirit in balance.