Loving Your Belly

March 26, 2014

I used to have that kind of relationship with my belly until I was introduced to two similar modalities that gave me a whole new outlook on this vastly under-appreciated part of our body.

Here’s a description of both techniques by Dr. Gabrielle Francis, the Herban Alchemist.

Mayan Abdominal Massage

“This is an ancient massage technique practiced by the Curanderas and Healers of the Mayan culture in Belize, Guatemala. and Mexico. The purpose is to massage and reposition the uterus, ovaries, and other abdominal organs through an external and non-invasive treatment. The goal is to restore circulation of blood and nutrients into the regions and to allow the proper elimination of toxins. The Mayan Massage is essential for all issues related to the female reproductive tract and fertility.”

Chi Nei Tsang

“This is a healing modality with ancient Taoist Chinese origins. It literally means the Transformation of the Organ Chi. This is a technique that massages and aligns the energy of the organs and viscera to improve function of the digestion, respiration, circulation and more. It has a strong focus on the emotional charges that remain held in the organs and meridians causing disease and imbalances.”

I receive Mayan abdominal massage regularly from Dr. Francis. The first time she began probing my belly, she discovered that my uterus was quite tipped. No doctor had ever mentioned that fact to me and it explained so much about many of the gynecological  problems I had in the past. With gentle manipulation, she was able to reposition it.

Last year when I was attending a workshop in the desert outside of Tucson with my energy healing group, I experienced my first Chi Nei Tsang session. This was a completely new modality for me and I was open and curious. I had heard that it is a profound way of releasing stuck emotional energy from the body. When the massage therapist began she told me to feel free to ask any questions. For whatever reason, I blurted out “Where’s the spot for grief?” She looked up at me kind of startled and said “I’m on it right now.” I’ve always felt a strong intuitive connection with my body but that was freaky!

After the session I went to meet some good friends for dinner. As I sat there I began to feel as if a wave of sadness and depression had completely clouded over me. I didn’t want to be with my friends or listen to their conversation. I felt heavy, agitated and disconnected from them. I left the table immediately after dinner and went straight to my room. These feelings were with me throughout the evening, but when I awoke the next morning I felt clear, fresh and like the cloud had lifted and something old and sad had been released.

That incident pretty much answered any doubt I might have had about our emotions being connected to our belly. I have had a few more sessions since then, each with their own unique experience.

Let me also mention that these modalities are not just for women. Men can benefit just as greatly from both Mayan abdominal massage and Chi Nei Tsang.

People often refer to their stomach and belly as one and the same. But the stomach is only a small part of the belly. The belly also includes the small intestine, spleen, gallbladder, liver, kidneys, ureters, bladder and large intestine (colon). These vital organs of digestion and elimination are known as the viscera. We pay so little attention to this part of the body and yet digestion takes roughly 60% of our daily energy!

Approximately 90% of our serotonin (the happy hormone) resides in the gut which is now affectionately referred to as our “second brain”.

In addition to our organs of digestion and elimination, our reproductive organs are also housed in our belly. So you can see just how important this part of our body truly is and how beneficial it might be to nurture it.

Speaking of nurturing, our belly is where it all began. From our umbilical cord we received our first nourishment from our mother as well as eliminating waste products. Seems kind of odd that we pay so little attention to it now.

The energy centers of the second and third chakras are both associated with the belly. The second (sexual or sacral) chakra is located below the navel and is associated with our emotional relationship with others and our creativity. The third (solar plexus) chakra is  about our sense of self. For more complete information on the chakras, click HERE  to download a free chakra chart.

While diet and exercise might help you get a flat belly, more often than not there’s an emotional component that needs addressing. A big belly is a warning sign, in fact, that there’s a lot going on with your emotional body. It’s often a sign of high cortisol levels and stress and therefore takes some deeper work than just cutting calories or running a marathon.

After my partner died almost three years ago, I started to put on weight like I had never before in my life. I noticed it particularly in my belly. I hadn’t changed my diet or my exercise routine. I eventually decided that it was “grief weight” and I finally relaxed about it, realizing that my body needed to feel more grounded. For two years it hung around and then it just started to fall away as my grief began to lessen. Of course I had a lot of help from some gifted bodyworkers and energy healers along the way, but for the most part my body/mind/spirit needed to go through this process.

Methods such as Mayan abdominal massage and Chi Nei Tsang are wonderful treatments and highly beneficial, but there is much that we can do for ourselves without needing outside help.

Laying hands on the body where there is pain or discomfort has always been an ancient form of healing. We do it naturally as parents with our children but forget about doing it ourselves. The more you start to tune into your body and hear its messages, the more you will be able to respond in a self-healing fashion. Laying hands on your belly can help you establish a loving and healing relationship with it. My favorite time to tune into my belly is in the morning before I get out of bed or in the evening prior to sleep.

You can simply rest your hands on your belly or gently move them around in an intuitive fashion. Be sure to incorporate your breath, and the self-healing potential will be all the greater. Gentle, deep breathing in through the nose, and out through the mouth (I like to make a hissing sound on the exhale, like a whistling tea kettle) will aid in the release of stuck toxins – both physical and emotional.

If you would like to deepen the practice to fully reconnect with your belly, I highly recommend the book “Unwinding the Belly: Healing with Gentle Touch” by Allison Post and Stephen Cavaliere.

So, love your belly and I’ll bet it will reward you with better digestion and emotional health. How is your relationship with your belly? I’d love it if you would share your thoughts here!

Much love,
Barbara

P.S.
For more information on Chi Nei Tsang click HERE.

5 Comments
  1. Yes to it all, my wise friend. I’m so looking forward to a Chi Nei Tsang next week! I find a lot of women store Shame in their bellies, and this work coupled with mindfulness and maybe journaling can help to release it. And hasn’t the culture shamed women for too long? Thank you for one more excellent post. Love you!
    Nancy

  2. It’s been a journey, and I am grateful that I love my belly these days. I too have found that it wasn’t the diet and exercise, but the emotional and mental states that I moved through that affected my belly most. The pressure and shame women AND men feel around needing to have a ‘flat and toned’ belly is so damaging to our nervous system, energy system, and psyche – it’s no wonder our bodies want to keep an extra layer there at times for protection! Another fantastic piece, dear Barbara. Love you much!
    Jennifer

  3. It’s been a journey, and I am grateful that I love my belly these days. I too have found that it wasn’t the diet and exercise, but the emotional and mental states that I moved through that affected my belly most. The pressure and shame women AND men feel around needing to have a ‘flat and toned’ belly is so damaging to our nervous system, energy system, and psyche – it’s no wonder our bodies want to keep an extra layer there at times for protection! Another fantastic piece, dear Barbara. Love you much!
    Jennifer

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