You probably know that meditation has a myriad of benefits, including improved focus and concentration, reduced anxiety and depression, and better moods and sleep quality.
You might even expect to feel or experience certain things in your body while meditating.
You might notice some widely reported sensations like tingling, fluttering, twitching, pulsing, feeling a calm, relaxed state, and sleepiness.
But what about crying during meditation?
Is that normal?
What does it mean?
How do you cope if it does happen?
- Is It Normal to Cry During Meditation?
- What Does Crying During Meditation Mean?
- Crying During Heart Chakra Opening Meditation
- Crying During Meditation: 7 Ways to Respond and Cope
Is It Normal to Cry During Meditation?
From weepiness to full-on sobbing with tears streaming down your cheeks, crying while meditating can catch you off guard, especially if you’re expecting a peaceful, relaxed session.
If this happens to you, know that you’re not alone. Crying while meditating is entirely normal, generally harmless, and experienced by new and seasoned meditators alike.
Crying is a form of healing and is a sign the meditation is working. It’s certainly nothing to be ashamed of.
Nonetheless, it can feel overwhelming and confusing, even alarming if you suddenly realize you are crying– and that’s normal, too.
What Does Crying During Meditation Mean?
What happens during meditation, and why is it different for everyone? While feeling peaceful is a common side effect, meditation is more about understanding who you are and how you feel.
Sessions that result in tears can occur from positive or negative emotions that bubble up in your relaxed state.
Here are some common reasons you might cry while meditating.
- Eye cleanse. It might have nothing to do with your emotions, but instead, it can be an effect of your relaxed state. Tears could be your body’s way of cleansing your eyes of dust, toxins, or other substances. Watery eyes could also be from a release of tension in the area.
- Releasing pent-up emotions. Perhaps you tend to suppress your emotions when you aren’t ready to deal with them or believe that crying is a sign of weakness, so you’re embarrassed to cry. Tears could be your body’s way of releasing those emotions and expressing and healing yourself.
- Experiencing a transcendent experience. Meditation can put you in a state of flow, bringing you out of your ordinary mind and connecting you to the universe and the world around you in a profound, meaningful way that results in a feeling like no other.
- Experiencing self-awareness and self-compassion. Meditation can allow you to see yourself with an open mind. It lets you discover and acknowledge your emotions and forgive yourself for whatever needs to be forgiven.
- Feeling grateful. Gratitude is a potent emotion and can cause waves of happiness or optimism to rush over you. Feeling lucky in life can result in tearful elation.
- Shifting perspectives. Seeing things in a new light is a significant benefit of meditation. Crying could be from realizing that you’re loved and worthy as you are. It could also indicate you’re unhappy with your current situation, and you realize it’s not what you want or what you thought it was.
Crying During Heart Chakra Opening Meditation
Have you ever done a heart-chakra meditation or mindfulness exercise intending to rid your soul and spirit of negative energies? Typically, they involve using affirmations, asking for light to balance your chakral nodes, and meditating on positivity.
Sounds lovely, right?
Ultimately, it is. But crying is a common side-effect of working on the heart chakra, aka the Anahata. Clearing a blocked one can trigger an emotional waterfall, leading to actual waterworks.
Heart chakras are frequently bogged down with emotional stresses — all of which are tightly tethered to our identities. Examples of energy-blocking issues include:
- Low self-esteem
- Excessive shame or guilt
- Anxiety and depression symptoms
- Large amounts of envy and jealousy
- Personal disappointment over unmet expectations
As such, when exploring the heart chakra, our emotions are more deeply invested in the experience. And when those energies begin to break apart — which happens during a purification or balancing session — your parasympathetic nervous system is more likely to trigger the tear ducts.
So if you find yourself sitting in a puddle of tears after a heart-chakra meditation, see it as a good thing. It signals that you’re breaking through the muck to the heart of the matter.
Crying During Meditation: 7 Ways to Respond and Cope
While crying is a normal response to meditation, it can still feel unsettling if you’ve never experienced it or don’t know how to respond to your tears. These seven tips can help you cope.
1. Know that crying is not a bad thing.
Crying is often thought of as negative or as a sign of weakness. But while it may be inconvenient or feel uncomfortable, crying is not a bad thing. In fact, it’s a common form of healing.
It reduces stress hormones like cortisol and allows you to release the negative energy inside of you. Crying during meditation is a sign the meditation is working.
It’s healthy to express your emotions, and crying is a natural, effective way to do that. It helps you process your feelings and then let them go. Holding them in has adverse effects such as depression, anxiety, poor sleep quality, and a greater chance of illnesses like cardiovascular disease.
2. Keep going – you got this!
Crying during meditation can catch you off guard, but try to keep going and just breathe through it.
Notice what’s happening inside your body.
- What are you feeling, and where do you feel it?
- How heavy are your tears?
- Are they hot on your cheeks?
- Is your breathing more shallow?
- Do your limbs feel heavier?
- What’s going on in your heart and stomach?
- Do these sensations feel positive or negative?
Resist burying your feelings or shutting them down.
It’s crucial to note that you should always use your best judgment. You can probably handle more than you think you can, but you know yourself better than anyone.
Never stay with intense meditation that’s too much to handle. It’s okay if you have to stop.
3. Don’t judge your tears.
A significant component of meditation is observing your thoughts, feelings, and experiences without judgment, so it should go without saying that this applies to crying.
Allow your tears to flow freely. Resist analyzing your emotions, why you’re crying, or what it means. Don’t try to stop yourself from crying, and don’t force your tears, either.
Just experience them as you experience any other effect of meditation. Notice what’s going on and gently return your focus to your practice.
Let it happen. Trust the process. Learn to love and accept your meditative efforts as they are. Whatever happens, is what’s supposed to happen.
Be kind to yourself.
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4. Take time to reflect afterward.
You know not to analyze your feelings during meditation, but reflecting on them after the experience can help you better understand yourself, how you’re feeling, and why.
How do you feel now that it’s over? Exhausted? Vulnerable? Free?
If your experience was negative, consider what caused the reaction. Is there anything you can do to change or improve your situation?
It’s natural to focus on negative emotions, but it’s important to reflect on positive emotions, too. If your tears were they happy kind, think about what’s going right in your life and how you can experience more of it.
Journal about your experience, talk about it with a trusted friend, family member, therapist, or meditation coach.
You might also consider practicing a little extra self-care to get through your vulnerable state.
5. Let it out.
Many people believe meditation is solely about peaceful relaxation and positivity. That’s certainly part of it, but it’s also about fully accepting and loving yourself– even the parts that sometimes hurt or feel uncomfortable.
Life is like a rollercoaster with ups and downs, twists and turns, thrills and fears. Some parts are exhilarating, while other parts have you hanging on for dear life. The point is you don’t experience only good things in life, so why try to accept only good things?
Your emotions are part of who you are, even the difficult, negative ones like fear, anger, shame, sadness, and loneliness.
It’s human nature to feel and to cry. Don’t block it. Embrace it. Own it. Feel it. Process it.
Just let it out.
6. Find healthy ways to express yourself.
Some people are frequent criers during meditation, some cry occasionally, and others never shed a single tear.
Your reaction is normal for you, but if it continues to happen and it makes you uncomfortable, try finding healthy ways to deal with your emotions as they arise rather than pushing them aside or avoiding them altogether.
If you can’t deal with something in the moment when you feel it, make a point to revisit it as soon as you can and don’t put it off.
While meditation is a healthy copy mechanism for life’s stressors, there are plenty of other ways to deal if you prefer tearless meditation sessions.
7. Know when to ask for help.
While meditation and crying are generally cleansing and quite beneficial, difficult emotions may surface that are hard to understand or deal with on your own.
Although relatively uncommon, some people experience adverse effects like retraumatization or increased anxiety during meditation. This can exacerbate existing mental health conditions, making it difficult to function or process your feelings.
Just as there’s no shame in crying, there’s no shame in seeking assistance in dealing with past trauma or pent-up emotions. With so much help available, there’s no need to try to fix it on your own.
Consider consulting a mental health professional for counseling and/or medications to help.
Meditation is a powerful tool you can use to get in touch with your feelings and learn about yourself, and there’s no right or wrong way to experience it.
Not crying is as normal as crying, and either response is a perfectly healthy way to process your emotions, whether positive or negative.