I used to spend a great deal of energy trying, in whatever way I could, to suppress and minimize the appearance of my belly; sucking in, zipping up, slouching down, hunching over…you name it. When I began exploring the deeper cravings concepts I learned that my embarrassment was denying me from responding to the countless tiny (and not so tiny) ways the body was speaking to me all the time.
My belly, in particular, bore the brunt of being silenced from the shame. I’ll never forget a mindful movement exercise I experienced at a workshop a couple of years ago. It was a rare opportunity for me to give myself the space and permission to bring my attention to what my body was asking for and to respond. My belly had something to say to me…it was screaming; “LET ME OUT”, so I did… I let it out, I expanded it, I breathed deeply, I swayed, I moved it in an exaggerated, almost childlike way. It felt unfamiliar… and amazing.
Later, it dawned on me just how stifled my belly had been most of my life. I walked around with my stomach squeezed up, muscles contracted most of the time, perhaps in the hopes I could fool others into thinking I was smaller (and therefore better?). When I brought my awareness to this I also realized that most of the time is was unconscious habitual behavior. My deep seated body rejection cost me tons of daily opportunities to breathe glorious, freeing, deep breaths.
In many Eastern Traditions it is believed that the belly is the power center of the soul. This makes sense to me on an intuitive level. The belly is such a powerhouse in the body. Not only does it house some of our most important organs and muscle groups but it also offers a wealth of insight into our emotional realms. By tuning in to our belly most of us are able to quickly discern if we are anxious, uncomfortable, out of sorts, etc… we get a “gut feeling” and yet many of us live with a giant muzzle on our body’s power center.
Try this: Every now and then in your day, check in with your belly, let it out, reclaim your belly power. BREATHE! Become conscious of breathing expansively into your belly and physically freeing it from the societal cage of trying to suck it in to get closer to what it ‘should’ look like. See if you can, if even only for a brief moment in your day, move from belly shame to belly joy.
(To learn more about the deeper cravings path and gaining a peaceful relationship with your body and food, come meet me at one of my live interactive on-line workshops)