Discovering Your Belly's Biography
Consider your belly as an historical being.
Your belly has collected a lifetime of experience, including
pain and pleasure, wounding and healing, conflict and resolution,
difficulty and triumph.
Befriending your belly includes inquiringgently,
respectfullyinto its personal history. As you recall
the events that make up your belly's biography, your body's
center can emerge more clearly and fully into your awareness.
When your belly is no longer a stranger to you, you can
begin to give it the amiable attention it deserves, developing
a relationship of mutual appreciation, compassion, and trust.
Here is a process for discovering your
belly's personal history, one which I've adapted from Ira
Progoff's At A Journal Workshop and Tristine Rainer's
The New Diary.
One woman remembers:
1st or 2nd grade: (6 yrs old) Little boy
I liked elbowed me in the belly. It hurt so bad.... I couldn't
breathe and just as much my feelings were hurt. We were
never really laughing together after that.
9-10 yrs old: My father talked about how
hard my stomach was: "No flab on her." He was
very complimentary about it and poked his own belly saying
how it wasn't so firm anymore.
20 yrs: Very thin...until I put on a little
weight in my early 20's. Nobody had ever seen me with any
padding and they commented...and I felt very dowdy and unattractive
26+ yrs: I developed colitisindigestionand
at first I couldn't feel which part of my body it was coming
frombladder? uterus? Finally it began to dawn on me
that there was a connection between my emotions and the
stomach-aches I'd had for many years.
40's: A time of inactivityweak stomach
muscles and a pulled muscle resulting in much pain in lower
50's: All of the above multiplied by 2.
About a month ago I developed a real desire to strengthen
Reflection: I've created much pain by default.
I've created much pain without knowing it, by neglecting
my belly, by neglecting and denying my emotions.
Steps in Discovering Your Belly's Biography
1. Divide a sheet of paper into three columns
and put a heading on each one:
- When I was a child...
- When I was a teenager...
- As an adult...
Reflecting on each phase of your life, under
the appropriate heading jot down a word or phrase to note
the people, places, events, and things that shaped your relationship
with your belly during that time period
Consider clothing, sports, fashion models,
accidents, injuries, illnesses, surgeries, friends, fights,
parents, grandparents, scoldings, punishments, rewards, siblings,
dating, sex, pregnancy, childbirth, mealtimes, dieting, shopping,
TV, movies, magazines, newspapers, comics, celebrities, advertisements,
and the like.
Let the remembrances flow, one memory nudging
another to the surface. Write your recollections as they come
forth, without stopping to think about their sequence in time.
Use additional pages for each phase as necessary.
2. When you come to completion, reread your three
lists of significant events and interactions, attaching an approximate
year to each item as you can.
Number them according to their sequence in time
and then rewrite each list from the earliest event to the most
recent, creating a chronology of pivotal points in your relationship
with your belly.
3. Write a brief reflection: What's the thread
linking these events and experiences together? What's the story
line here, and how is it developing?
4. Gather your recollections together into a
timeline, a narrative, or a series of self-portrait sketches showing
how your relationship with your belly has developed though time.