We all know that feeling, when something suddenly strikes a nerve, then out of nowhere you realize that there’s no stopping it, you’re gonna cry.
First your breathing gets unsteady. A lump swells in your throat. Your chin quivers just a little. You can feel the tears welling on your eyelids. You sniffle. You don’t want to make anyone uncomfortable, so you hold up the waterworks for as long as possible until you can finally bolt for a private place to burst into tears.
We’ve all been there. Nothing makes you feel so completely at the mercy of your emotions than one of these acute attacks of grief.
In an attempt to avoid emotional outbursts, we’ll steer clear of people, places and things that may trigger an emotional response. This avoidance of confrontation doesn’t mean feelings of loss goes away, it means they get set aside or pushed down…for now. The problem with avoidance is that over time all the feelings that have been pushed down can start to build pressure.
Even if you’re very expressive about your feelings sometimes you’ll hear a song, or see a movie, or realize in the middle of Target that you don’t need to buy your dad Christmas gift anymore, or whatever it may be, and it can set off an acute attack of grief.
It happened for me while shopping at the mall with friends. While absently flipping through the racks, their stereo system started playing “Wind Beneath My Wings,” the song that was played at my dad’s burial. Out of nowhere, I was in a full physical panic! I’ve never had a more real and unexpected fight-or-flight moment than that, so I bolted right out of the store and away from that song. When my friends and I came back together, I absolutely lied about why I had left so suddenly.
Though it’s completely natural and healthy to cry, often times it can be embarrassing and frustrating. So here’s a quick dip into mindfulness practice to help you regain a little control in those moments when you feel you’ve completely lost it.
Even if it’s broken breath. Try to focus all your attention onto your breathing.
Focus on every sensation of breathing—feel the air being drawn through your nose, down your throat, and into your lungs. Feel your chest rise as your lungs expand, then feel it fall as you begin to exhale. If you catch yourself judging the quality of your breathing or if your mind wanders away, gently usher your thoughts back to focusing on just the sensation of the breathing. You want to narrow your focus onto just this one thing, that’s happening in this one moment. If it’s safe to do so, you might want to close your eyes. Continue focusing on your breath, breathing in and out, until you’re comfortable.
I know this can sound a little touchy-feely but mindfulness can truly work wonders in those out-of-nowhere moments of need.