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6 years ago  ::  Jun 24, 2008 - 7:59PM #1
vegetara
Posts: 15
Sometimes when I meditate, I cry. This seems to happen when I'm in an intense situation, such as a retreat where I've been meditating a lot.

When it happens, I'm having what I would call a 'good' sit. Usually it's mindfulness meditation that I'm doing and there seem to be some good spaces between thoughts. I'm not feeling anything at all much less sadness or any intense emotion that would cause tears. Suddenly, the muscles around my eyes and forehead feel a tightening and tears are coming out of nowhere.

The after effects, however, are not so without feelings. First of all, I get embarrassed about the crying. I then feel pressure to explain what it was to others who can tell by the redness, etc. that I've been crying but I don't have an answer!

Afterwards, I frequently get a bit emotionally shaken and in the past it has caused me to take a break in my practice which I know is not the answer. I spoke to some teachers about this, but, I must say I'm still kind of shaken up and, frankly, scared that it's going to happen every time I sit. I just looked online and some of the stuff sounded like this is for beginners but, I've been practicing (though not as consistently as I should) for 4 years now, so, I didn't think that information applied to me. This first started after 2 1/2 years of practice and not when I first began.

I'd like some thoughts from others, especially anyone who has experienced this also.
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6 years ago  ::  Jun 25, 2008 - 12:30AM #2
RenGalskap
Posts: 1,420
Hi Vegetara,

When you meditate, a lot of what is happening is hidden. Because the activity is hidden, the results tend to occur without warning and without any apparent cause. Many long term meditators have experienced strong, inexplicable emotions at one time or another.

Meditators sometimes experience intense feelings of happiness or a powerful feeling of being one with everthing, and these also have no apparent cause. Inexplicable and unpleasant emotions are the negative aspect of this. Meditation teaches us to accept these experiences without being attached or repelled by them. Unpleasant meditation experiences have the advantage that we usually become less attached to them than pleasant meditation experiences.

The bottom line is that while crying may be unusual, you are perfectly normal. :)
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6 years ago  ::  Jun 25, 2008 - 10:40AM #3
vegetara
Posts: 15
Thanks for your response and the assurances that I'm fine. The teachers I've asked said the same thing and to just let it happen although I really wish I better understood what was triggering it.

The thing that is freaky is that I'm NOT experiencing any strong emotions before or when this comes on. The strong emotions come afterwards in the form of confusion and embarrassment about the crying. It's really difficult to explain this-which is part of the problem because when we finish others can see that I've been crying and I can't explain why. Because this tends to happen when I'm doing an intense retreat or something to that effect, I'm usually not alone. This last time, it was on day 3 of a 5 day event. It's even more bothersome that everyone seems SO concerned about it and then they respond by continuing to ask me repeatedly how I'm doing for the remainder of the time. It would be easier to explain and a lot less confusing if I could say that I was overcome with some emotion that brought the tears out. I also wish that I had a nice way of telling them to just leave me alone even though I understand that it is concern and compassion that motivates them.

This last time, I asked the teacher, a zen nun, who seemed to strongly believe there was some great emotion-maybe I was overcome with compassion, for example. Her English wasn't the greatest so I repeated that I'm not feeling anything when it happens and she then said that if it's not from emotions, it's from nature though I'm not sure what that meant and others were lining up to try to talk to her so I went on my merry way. I then asked my regular teacher about it a few days later which was the next time I got a chance, and he said that it's quite common and that he agreed with the nun that I should just let it happen. He's now in Sri Lanka for a couple of months and I'm scared that this is going to continue to happen-especially in front of total strangers because I had planned on attending talks/sits with other local teachers while he's gone.

You're right that I need to learn to distance myself and try to not get so embarrassed or feel such a strong need to have a logical explanation at this moment. Any advice on how to deal with other people in the meantime?
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6 years ago  ::  Jun 25, 2008 - 1:08PM #4
RenGalskap
Posts: 1,420
I understand what you're saying about there not being any emotion involved.

In dealing with other people, the only thing I can suggest is be polite and remember that you don't owe anyone an explanation. Don't use the word "crying", which indicates emotion. If anyone asks, just say "My eye's tear up sometimes when I meditate." After all, if meditation can cause pain in your back and legs, why shouldn't it cause tears in your eyes?

Remember that the first noble truth is the existence of dukkha. Even meditation is not going to live up to our ideals. I have a slight abnormality in my hips and spine that causes my upper body to twist about 15 degress to the right when I sit in the lotus position. Some people want to correct my posture, which is a little embarassing, but facing straight ahead causes muscle spasms. It would be less embarassing if I were perfect, but as Bhikkhu Popeye said, "I yam what I yam." ;)
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6 years ago  ::  Jun 25, 2008 - 7:35PM #5
vegetara
Posts: 15
Thanks!

And, I appreciate the quote of wisdom from Popeye!
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6 years ago  ::  Jul 12, 2008 - 2:39PM #6
Renbyo
Posts: 3
I"ve been sitting zazen about 20 years, done lots of sesshins, and I still cry occasionally. I try to let what happen, just happen...no judgement or assesment of the feeling. Sometimes it seems associated with some "deeper truth" or feelings of compassion or sorrow, other times, like you, I just ....leak. I don't have an answer for you, but I sit with you in this experience.

Be well and sit strongly,

Jeff
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6 years ago  ::  Jul 13, 2008 - 2:41PM #7
HongYangShi
Posts: 14
I hope you can understand a little better about what is happening.  When you stop responding to the crying by being embarassed about the tears, readness then your fellow meditators sitting with you will not respond.  You have an emotional response.  Also please consider there are underlying issues to deal with that are coming out in meditation you can try to keep a journal or visit a counselor.  If your teacher cannot guide you then read more sutras to learn more for yourself.

Weeping silently is ok in the meditation session but if your crying is escalating it's better to not sit and get up and let it rip outside and then share a conversation with someone when your calm.  I mean if you cry so long your nose clogged up, or drizzling or gasping for air from sobbing then something deeper is being acccessed during meditation that your body is saying do something about it.

Meditation is for enlightenment, crying during it means you got some kind of regret or anger, or saddness you haven't let go of yet.  It's ok if you cry but if you train yourself to cry by letting it happen every time them you only train your mind to associate meditation as a ok time to cry. 

Crying out of compassion.  noting the suffering of others, the world empathizing with it is the first step to recognizing a need in yourself to do something about this suffering world.  Perhaps the Bodhisattva path might be of interest at this point.  Or perhaps charity work.


Ven. Hong Yang
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6 years ago  ::  Jul 20, 2008 - 11:03AM #8
makepeaceonearth
Posts: 1
At an hour-long early a.m. sit on day 4 of a retreat a wave of nausea rolled over me and I thought I might vomit there and then.  I thought maybe I should leave the retreat so no one else would catch what I had but I got told it might be due to things coming up after deep relaxation.  So I sat with it until great sobs came, bringing with them feelings from an incident of violence in my childhood.

I knew I was safe at the monastery so I just sat with it and sobbed.  Incidentally, someone sat with me after the nausea began but before the sobs.  Her sincere desire to help me was palpable but she was a distraction and the sobs didn't begin until she left the room.

So much stuff came up that it became more than I could assimilate and I had to slow down and deal with what I had.  I ended up leaving the retreat 2 days early so I could make my 8-hour drive very, very slowly, stopping the car and walking from time to time and staying overnight on the way home.

Would anyone be interested in a bit of advice?  If anything bad happened to you as a kid, consider sitting with it now.  Get help if you need it.  I tried to avoid it for 50 years and I think now that my life could have been much less worry- and stress-filled if I had dealt with it.  However, things do take their course and whatever it 's taken to get me here has been worth it.

If this is helpful to you or anyone else, I'm grateful.

Peace.
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6 years ago  ::  Jul 20, 2008 - 11:28AM #9
Byte
Posts: 8
I am no expert in meditation, but I was thinking something similar to what Ven. Hong Yang mentioned. Perhaps there is some underlying emotional distress that you are not aware of. I have had past experiences where I have discovered bad memories from my childhood that I had repressed in my mind. I had completely forgotten about them, but they were still there to be re-discovered one day. This may not apply to your case, but it's certainly a possibility.

Edit: Sorry, I didn't see the post above mine at first, it's pretty much discussing exactly the same thing.
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6 years ago  ::  Jul 20, 2008 - 12:59PM #10
Tipmouse
Posts: 1
I have cried warm, soft, free flowing tears on occasion.  I am always surprised when the tears come, but have never questioned the source or the reason, but rather I have felt the sense of cleansing that they seem to bring.  Afterwards I know that I have let go of somethig that I didn't even know I was clinging to!  And you know what?  It doesn't matter what it was.  What matters is that I have taken a closer step to true vision---at least that is what it feels like when I open my eyes.

Thanks all of you for sharing your thoughts.
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