Listening to the Wisdom of Our Belly
Indian Summer is a period of ripening and harvest. In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), it is the season of the earth element. Earth is associated with the center, the stomach and how we nourish ourselves. It is a powerful season during which much transformation takes place in a very short span of time, but we may not reap the full benefits of the season if we are not in harmony with ourselves.
When we are out of balance, we experience disease on multiple levels. Physically, we may have discomfort in the form of muscle aches, colds or inefficient functioning of organs. Emotionally, we may be worried, unclear and unable to come to decisions. Spiritually, we may find ourselves disengaging from our life’s purpose and becoming self-centered.
In ancient times, people lived close to the earth and followed “sun time”. We got up with the daylight to work, took siestas when the sun was too strong, finished our day at sunset, and then retired at night when darkness fell. We looked to nature for direction.
Today, technology has enabled us to function without regard to sunlight. We have separated from sun time and attunement to our natural body rhythm. Our guide, the internal clock, has been pushed aside and ignored, so we have cut ourselves off from a valuable source of information. Our minds have taken over and we have lost touch with our center.
The belly is not only a physical center that joins the upper and lower halves together, it represents a spiritual center that contains an abundant source of information that can serve as an internal guide to creativity and self-healing. In TCM it is known as the hara, which literally translates as “belly” or “root”.
Many of us have judgments and shame associated with this area of our body. We certainly have not been encouraged to listen to our bellies. As a culture, we believe that a hard, flat belly represents health. Only when a woman is pregnant is it acceptable to have a noticable belly. Even then, many women struggle to enjoy this expansion of life in their body.
We place a great deal of importance on body image and external appearances. When we harden the belly, our energy moves up into our heads, which can result in physical imbalances such as headaches and upper back tension. The thinking, rational mind becomes the focus of our consciousness and we ignore the belly’s wisdom. Holding our belly in numbs us to the sensations or feelings that once guided us. We may experience constipation, low back ache or menstrual disorders. An open belly connects us to our sensuous nature, our creativity and intuition. We are inclined to focus on the inner processes and develop a strong relationship with our higher self when we bring our consciousness down into the belly.
We often look for the answers outside of ourselves when we already have what we need within. That inner knowledge is asleep inside our bellies. So the next time an aerobics instructor tells us to suck in our gut, take a breath deep into the abdomen and listen to the feeling. It takes time to discard the myths to which we’ve grown accustomed. Staying open keeps us alive to the possibility of discovering the mysteries.
Gina Bader was an instructor at ASIS Massage Education in Prescott before her passing. For more information about attending massage school, visit asismassage.com. See ad page 25.