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She Can't Stop Crying when the Imagery Plays

18 Mar

Hi BR.

I am an Occupational Therapist and have recommended your work to my patients.  I also use your Healthful Sleep for myself. You are every mother, friend and lover and your incredible voice stirs some very deep parts of people as you are well aware. I love to listen and it makes me feel nurtured and at peace.
 
The only problem is, for me, it also very often makes me cry uncontrollably - that is how deep it touches. Sometimes, a good release is what I need and am seeking, and it never fails to turn on the spigot when I have been holding too much inside.
 
But I was wondering for general stress relief or for sleep issues..(which was the main reason I bought your first cd) - is this really a GOOD thing? 

I am not certain if I am stirring up the quagmire, and maybe this is too strong for a sensitive soul… or what?
 
I can’t seem to put it in perspective. I would appreciate your thoughts on this kind of response that I am having…  and the applications I am seeking it for. .. and generally what you might think.
 
Thank you for you.
Carol

Dear Carol,

Thank you for the kind words.  I'm so glad you asked this question - it comes up a lot, and the sobbing can be pretty alarming if it catches people off-guard, which it generally does.
 
(In fact, I'd really like to change your name and publish your question and my answer, because I think it could reassure a lot of people.  But of course I won't if that makes you uncomfortable.)

So here's the thing:  when, after a long while - sometimes years, sometimes decades - the internal timing is right and a person is ready to release some big vats of stored up grief, pain, tension, anger, fear or whatever else is in there, and you get just the right amount of support/encouragement/safe space to do so - then you sob like you're never going to stop.
 
It often happens when trauma survivors come to a time and place in their lives when they're feeling more stable, safe, empowered and hopeful than ever before.

It can take weeks or sometimes months, even, for the sobbing to run its course.
 
Therapists see this in sessions all the time - it can go on for quite a while.  Sometimes even we think it's never going to stop, even though we know better.  But it's so intense, it's a bit of a gobsmacker every time.

But if you just let it run its course, it really does abate, and then you're lighter and freer and your life becomes way more energized, productive and joyous for it.
 
So all things being equal, my advice is, to whatever degree you can stand it, just let it rip.
 
I hesitate to say it can ultimately be more beneficial to you than sleep - because none of us can afford to build up too big a sleep deficit - but whenever you're up for it, just press ‘play’ and let yourself sob.
 
For the times that you need to just plain sleep, don't use that imagery.  Maybe some simple breathing exercises or maybe just somebody else's voice and style that's less evocative for you.
 
There are so many good resources you can use for sleep: sleep expert Rubin Naiman has some excellent advice and simple, effective guided exercises for help with sleep on his Healthy Sleep; Traci Stein's Self-Esteem during Sleep is a wonderful, very popular hypnotic audio;  and KRS Edstrom's Sleep through Insomnia another.  And Michael Reed Gach's Sleep Better offers acupoint pressure guidance plus some suggestions for gentle yoga stretches - quite effective.

So why not listen to the audio samples and determine which of those excellent options is least likely to make you cry, and try that one first? 

I hope this offers some solid reassurance – this mostly happens when people are on the road to a new plateau of healing, and their body knows it - sometimes before their mind does. It may be uncomfortable; and you may find your red eyes and nose not to your liking.  But bottom line: it's a good thing.

All best wishes and please do stay in touch and let me know how it goes.
BR

Belleruth Naparstek

Psychotherapist, author and guided imagery pioneer Belleruth Naparstek is the creator of the popular Health Journeys guided imagery audio series. Her latest book on imagery and posttraumatic stress, Invisible Heroes: Survivors of Trauma and How They Heal (Bantam Dell), won the Spirituality & Health Top 50 Books Award