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Sad girl crying desperately alone sittin

Crying Mindfully

A mindful crying practice can bring peace to overwhelm and hope where there was despair.  Emotional tears are an invaluable evolutionary resource for extreme grief, chronic stress, anxiety, anger, overwhelm, or numbness. 

Mindful Crying: List

Mindful crying can help to promote calm
and regulate
 the brain and nervous system



A good cry can be a powerful way to release pent-up emotion– and the stress hormones that come with it–but sometimes when we cry, we experience painful thoughts and narratives that work against our body's intentions for release.


Mindfulness practice helps us to cry in a way that minimizes the stress hormones our bodies must manage. Here's a simple 4-step practice you can use the next time you're crying:

  1. Practice self-compassion: Remember that it's okay to cry and to have emotions. Treat yourself with kindness and compassion, just as you would a treasured friend who is going through a tough time.

  2. Witness your emotions: Actively name the emotions you're feeling. Simply naming the feelings you notice can help your body cry productively. Example: I'm so sad (or so angry, or so afraid, or so exhausted, etc).

  3. Witness your thoughts: As you cry, witness the thoughts, narratives, etc., that enter the space and the emotions they create. Do you need to narrate vomiting to aid the process? No, and crying is often the body's response TO painful information, so give yourself permission in this moment to return your awareness to the here and now inside and beyond your body.

  4. Stay present: As you cry, stay present with the evolving moment. As your body works to release, sensations will inevitably move out of and into the space. With mindful attention to what is shifting, you may notice emerging awareness that indicate it's time to breathe more slowly, take a rest, get some resources in place, etc. Remember, your body has just released a lot of stress hormones, so you may need to sit quietly, rest or reflect after a cry.

NOTE: The need to cry indicates the nervous system needs more bandwidth. It's wise to delay any thinking, decisions, or actions until your nervous system is resourced. In an appropriate time and location (and with proper hydration), a daily mindful crying practice is a helpful tool to promote wellness.

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