How Can I Control My Unwanted Tears?


Sometimes when I am upset by another person’s reaction to a certain situation (most of the time the issue is trivial), instead of blurting out, I shed out tears uncontrollably. I instantly feel relief after this however, the fact that I cannot control my tears weighs me down heavily, especially if the other person is just an acquaintance. Last time it was about to happen, I started monitoring myself in the spine but it didn’t help. Why does it happens and how I do I fix this?

—Koyal, India


Dear Koyal,

I cannot help but wonder how your friends react to your tears over something that you yourself consider trivial! Well, it sounds like keeping centered in these cases will take some practice, practice, practice! A comment, however, on the temporary relief you feel from reacting emotionally: by doing so you dig deeper and deeper channels for this form of reaction. It’s like scratching an itch. It feels good at first, but the itch doesn’t stop and the scratching only makes the habit deeper and more difficult to overcome.

Do you meditate regularly? Daily? I would encourage you to develop or stabilize your meditation practices. Your goal with each meditation is to go beyond thinking, even if just for a few moments (to begin with). Pray first for calmness; then practice a time-tested technique (like watching the breath with a word formula or mantra like the Hong Sau technique taught at Ananda. Then enter the silence and “Be still and know I AM.”

In addition, practice moments of quieting the mind and opening the heart throughout each day. Start with the intention to do this at least three times during your waking hours. Then increase the frequency of stillness as you get better at it. This can be done before doing another task, making a phone call, or after completing a task. Whether sitting or standing, eyes open, closed (doesn’t matter): immediately still your mind and feel your body from head to toe; feel your life energy throughout the body; then feel the hidden joy at the heart of that energy. Let your thoughts come to rest, that’s the time you’ll feel your ever-happy soul best!

Swami Kriyananda taught us an excellent response to criticism: when criticized, rather than defend yourself, say simply, “Well, you may be right. I’ll have to consider this.” Sometimes one must deal rationally with a critique if there’s something more at stake than one’s emotions. There may be a job that has to be done or the honor of another person to be defended but we’re not talking of these larger issues. Here we are talking about differences of opinion or personal criticism.

You might memorize the second stanza of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras: “Yogas chitta vritti nirodha.” Loosely paraphrased: “The state of calmness in yoga is achieved by not reacting emotionally.” Kriya yoga is excellent for learning to live more in the spine. There is specialized training and preparatory yoga practices that are involved but I highly recommend this if you feel attracted to the lineage of Yogananda-ji.

Lastly, don’t forget the power of humor to help establish mindfulness and non-attachment. When you burst out in tears, laugh a little at your own self! You can things like “Oh my, I do this sometimes. Aren’t I silly?” Don’t take yourself too seriously. It only makes habits more entrenched. “Oh my mind, you are far too sensitive!”

Be of good cheer. Joy to you!

Nayaswami Hriman
Seattle WA USA