Good Grief! Motion as Health; Movement as Healing

James Anthony Ellis 
Legacy Magazine Editor

What happens when we grieve?

There has got to be a reason for it.


We understand pissing, farting, belching, barfing.

Everything makes sense there. Releasing of gas, toxin and piss.

But this crying thing? Really weird.

We cried as kids, maybe on the playground after a kickball game got away from us, or after a tumble on the blacktop. We cried as infants for sure, in order to get across a clear and concise communication with dad or mom, or anyone in earshot. Hungry? Tired? Needing changing? Well sure! The needs resulted in a clear cry for help.

But as teens and adults, the crying and tears take on a different form. The needs may underlie the tears, but the cause of the crying comes from a more broad place. It may arise in the release of sadness when experiencing a loss, or the tears of joy when overwhelmed by some success, victory or beauty.

The tears come when observing the first few moments of a newborn, upon the miracle of birth. The tears arise at the loss of a parent, the graduation of a teen, the retirement of a veteran quarterback.

But what is happening here in this process?

As a healer over the past 25 years, i have learned tears, grieving and all emotion all appear in order to move energy.

Good grief – it’s all about moving energy!

A solid analogy of this phenomena comes in the form of a river.

I recall backpacking in the mountains near Yosemite in the mid-80s, back in the day when the water in the moving river was healthy enough to drink. At the time, the major point to consider here was: is the water moving swiftly or is it stagnant? If the river was moving rapidly, then the water was purified by the movement; whereas water that had pooled up or dwindled down to a slow trickle, would be full of sediments and bugs, even to the point of foaming up in this yellow froth. Yuck. Wouldn’t want to add that to our water bottle.

The key here was the movement of the water. Clear, clean water moves. Dirty, unhealthy, infected water stagnates.

You see it everywhere in the natural world. Where you see movement, you find health. Where you see sluggishness and stagnation, you find disease and sickness.

  • The flowing bloodstream with cleared arteries = health. The bloodstream with blocked arteries = stroke, heart-attacks and aneurysms.
  • Our oxygen moving freely throughout our lungs and respiratory system = health. Blocked passageways = asthma, cancers, bronchitis.
  • A body exercising and practicing stretching in the likes of yoga = health. A body stagnant, laying there, doing nothing = obesity, bed soars, drop foot, lethargy.

Health is hard to define because it is our natural state of being. Sometimes definitions must come from describing the diseases not present. Here we would see the void of toxins and disease as health, and disease – a diminishing of vibrancy and health – often coming byway of some form of blocked energy.

That is the big takeaway here. Disease arises from blocked energy.

Though disease will indeed arise in the physical body, it can originate in the mind and emotions: stuck thoughts, judgments, resentments, unresolved pain, sadness, guilt, anger. Not a new or abstract concept really, you can see this in a simple bout of anxiety and fear that results in you holding tight the muscles in your neck or jaw. This can manifest in sore necks, teeth problems, and that hardened wire of a muscle in your shoulder … the one that HURTS LIKE HELL when someone pinches it.

Not rocket science. Not even “science,” just reality.

So if disease originates partially from stagnant bodies, stuck thoughts, and unresolved emotions, then what is the solution?

  1. Notice … when you are holding your breath, tightening your muscles, judging another person, holding onto resentments, and feeling anger, frustration, sadness …
  2. Breathe … deeply with a surrendered relaxed exhale, even taking such a breathwork process into an extended meditation, with guidance from a trained facilitator if need be…
  3. Feel … into any emotion fully, without any need to act on it or any desire to follow its direction.
  4. Grieve … freely as you can, wherein you can just let the emotions flow from you without any analysis or justification.
  5. Move … your body, thoughts, feelings, in such a way your flexibility frees you, in ways that are creative and serve you the best: writing, running, basketball, golf, movie-watching, game-playing … and crying.

Yes crying. If the tears come, then feel not the need to hold it in or push it down. The effort it takes to stifle a natural response to arising energy can be downright draining. The fluidity and flexibility of an effortless release can be freeing, and effortless. And – contrary to popular belief – it actually can take place in such a brief amount of time. Moments. Mere moments compared to days, months, years, lifetimes of holding on … and hurting yourself.

Of course, for all the above pointers you will want to find a safe place to express yourself, far away from a judgmental eye … including your own. You will pick the place to express yourself where it is safe to take off the mask, if not alone then around a trusted circle of teammates, healers, coaches or counselors.

With such freedom of mind, body, emotion and spirit, you will feel the relief. You have felt that before. That lightness, that peace.

Like the empty stomach after regurgitating toxins, or the unburdened bladder after pissing away piss, the emotional body relieved of a heavy load of grief, can leave you calmer and more centered.

So the answer to the question – what happens when we grieve? It’s simple.

We allow the movement of blocked energy.

We allow emotions to flow, like a free-flowing river.

We allow thoughts to be flexible.

We allow our soul to be free.

James Anthony Ellis is a writer and producer living in San Diego, California. His book “Tears” can be purchased at the below link.

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