The Power of Crying

I recently had the pleasure of joining a Indigenous sweat lodge ceremony. The Elder who was hosting the ceremony explained to our group that both our sweat and tears hold the vibrations of our emotions and that through sweat ceremonies, we were cleansing not only our body but our emotions as well. He told us that if we cried, we should not wipe our tears. These tears are sacred and we should just let them flow. I love that.

I was crying before the door closed. Not necessarily from feeling sad or emotional but from pure fucking panic. I had been to a sweat before and I knew how hot it was about to get. I hated it the first time. I couldn’t breath and I was pretty sure that I was seconds away from suffocating to death. I remember being so physically uncomfortable that I wasn’t able to get in to a spiritual place. I was hoping to have a different experience this round. But as people started piling in to the small dome, I could feel the heat from the rocks in front of me, my heart started racing and my mind went full blown bat-shit crazy. What if I passed out and fell forward on to the rocks? What if I was suffocating and I couldn’t speak and ask someone to open the fucking door? What if I couldn’t even find the fucking door? Breathe.

I wanted to leave but I choose to stay because, well honestly, I had made the 2 hour drive and I knew if everyone else was able to survive the heat, it was a pretty small chance that I would be the one person to suffocate and die. It wasn’t even the dying thing that scared me (obviously that would be a little dramatic), it was the lack of control I had. I would have to completely surrender. So I did. And guess what? I didn’t die. More than that, I had a beautiful experience. One in which I would have missed if I didn’t practice surrendering. A hard (and necessary) practice for a control freak.

A few weeks later I attended a workshop on Indigenous rituals and protocols with a local elder. She confirmed what I had learned at the sweat ceremony, that our tears are sacred and we should let them flow. She told us

“Never apologize for crying as your tears are a sacred ceremony earned through your pain”.

Wow. Wow. Wow. Just wow. How amazing is that? Our tears are a sacred ceremony that we have earned through our pain. I could just weep at the truth and beauty of that statement. So what if the next time you had a cry, you just let the tears flow without wiping them away, without apologizing or feeling guilty. What if you reminded yourself that you have earned every tear through your sorrow, through your pain, through your experiences. Every tear would be like a badge of honour you carry and then release through this sacred ceremony of crying. Every tear could be your lesson. Every single tear would have a meaning and a purpose. Now that is what I call “healing.”.

Mackenzie Johnson