When was the last time you looked down at your belly and gave it a pat and a rub and just said ‘Thank you’?
Probably not in a while, right? Well, I’m here to tell you that this needs to change. Our guts are so vital to our beings that they are often considered to be our second brain! We have an entirely separate, complex nervous system down there that deserves attention.
“A deeper understanding of this mass of neural tissue, filled with important neurotransmitters, is revealing that it does much more than merely handle digestion or inflict the occasional nervous pang. The little brain in our innards, in connection with the big one in our skulls, partly determines our mental state and plays key roles in certain diseases throughout the body.”
There are so many ailments in today’s society that have to do with this brain in the gut that it is worth taking time to contemplate more awareness, compassion, and understanding in this area.
Belly fat is one of the most popular search prompts of all time. We hate it, we avoid it, we blast it, we crunch it away. It’s no wonder that we all want to look sexy and slim, and toned abs seem to be an integral part of this desire.
I hear ya, I’m right there with you! And not only that, “belly fat is potentially amongst the most dangerous type of all fat because it could increase the risk of blood pressure, heart disease and stroke,” according to Harvard Medical School and Livestrong.com.
Lucky for us yogis, yoga is recommended as one of the most effective ways to cure belly fat, the sun salutations in particular. So for those of you who are still on the fence about this whole “yoga thing”, hopefully this will encourage you to just try it! I’m a fan of using whatever means possible to get people onto the mat, so if it starts off as a desire for rocking abs, so be it.
But I have an even better way of helping you to get rid of that chub tub and it has to do with compassion and appreciation. Seriously.
I spent so many years ashamed of my slightly protruding paunch. I covered it, I obsessed over it, I shunned it, and I damned it! But then one day it hit me: How could I ever expect it to get better if I’m constantly berating this part of my body for its physical appearance and not actually appreciating all the immense work and wonderful happenings that take place in it?
The moment I had this “a-ha” realization, I smiled down at my buddha belly, I gave it a rub and a pat, and I said ‘Thank you’.
I swear to you I immediately felt better. Not only that, but soon after, truth be told, I had a flatter and more toned tummy than I had had in years.
A little appreciation goes a long way.
I was no longer fighting this integral part of myself (which is good because what you resist persists) but working in accordance with it, this brain in the gut—this seat of our intuition and many of our most driving forces.
I encourage every single one of you to look down at your belly and give it a pat and a rub while you send it some love, compassion, and most of all gratitude for all the important work it does. Notice if you don’t instantly feel a sigh of relief, acceptance, and maybe even a dropping of a couple pounds worth of worry and obsession.
Work with your belly, ask it what it wants and needs and don’t fight it. Be patient.
Over time you will notice a sense of your body coming into accordance with itself and a being that is more balanced and simultaneously less disease ridden and stress heavy.
A great added bonus is to try deep belly breathing as it is one of the best ways to reduce stress and anxiety; calm nerves; and find a sense of compassion, confidence, and acceptance in your being. Your guts will thank you.
“We have a fear of facing ourselves. That is the obstacle. Experiencing the innermost core of our existence is very embarrassing to a lot of people. A lot of people turn to something that they hope will liberate them without their having to face themselves. That is impossible. We can’t do that. We have to be honest with ourselves. We have to see our gut, our excrement, our most undesirable parts. We have to see them. That is the foundation of warriorship, basically speaking. Whatever is there, we have to face it, we have to look at it, study it, work with it and practice meditation with it.”
~ Chögyam Trungpa
Think of the Buddha. How could someone so happy have such a big belly? Because he knows that so much of the source of our wisdom comes from this integral part of ourselves.
Fill yourself up with wisdom, knowledge, laughter, gratitude, a balance of soul food and health food, and most of all—embrace your buddha belly.
Jessica Cartwright’s life work is to bring out the spiritual warrior within us all, and to help others recognize and achieve their Personal Legends through the teachings of yoga, guided meditation journeys, energy healing, and all forms of personal exploration. Through her organization, Jessica offers bilingual (spanish/english) yoga, works with many non-profits, and helps organize yoga retreats in her hometown of Bozeman, Montana, as well as internationally. You can connect with her on Twitter and Facebook.
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Assistant Ed: Josie Huang/Ed: Bryonie Wise