Steps in the Dialogue Process
1. Take time out. Set aside fifteen
or twenty minutes when you'll be free from interruption; equip
yourself with your notebook or journal and a pen or pencil. Since
activating your belly with movement and breath enables your belly
to be all the more communicative, you might plan to initiate
the dialogue immediately after practicing the belly-energizing
Write out the ensuing dialogue with your belly
on paper as it's taking place. Allow each party to speak in the
first person as "I," addressing the other as "you."
Making a clear and definite distinction between the voice of
the mind and the voice of the belly sets the stage for developing
a greater degree of integration.
2. Invite conversation. Explore
ways to establish a mutual willingness to speak. "Hello!
I know it's been a long time since we've talked. I'd really like
to talk together now. Are you willing to talk with me?"
Don't be surprised if your belly is grumpy, grouchy, or skeptical.
Let it speak those feelings, or let it be silent for a while
as you remain persistent (rather than demanding) with your invitations
Remember, your belly may have adapted itself
to long periods of neglect or even abuse. Its voice may have
shriveled with disuse. As you repeat your invitation to converse,
stay attentive to your inner imagery. Even if your belly doesn't
answer you at first in words, it may respond in terms of a shift
in inner sensations and images. Demonstrate your willingness
to attend to your belly with care and to treat it with respect.
3. Ask for introductions. Ask your
belly for its name. "What do you want me to call you?"
Use that name as you address your belly throughout the conversation
that follows. One woman learned that her belly wanted to be called
"Giver of Life." Another woman's belly asked to be
addressed as "Belle."
4. Stay present. As you write,
be totally honest with what's happening in the moment. Don't
bother trying to be polite or productive or smart or quick. Judgments
such as "This doesn't make any sense!" or "This
is crazy!" only get in the way of the wisdom that wants
to flow through you.
Go for the naked truth. For example:
If you're afraid that you don't know how to
talk to your belly, you can write: "Belly, I'm afraid I
don't know how to talk to you."
If you're worried that your belly is so angry
about all the ways you've mistreated and neglected it in the
past that it won't want to talk with you, then you can write:
"Belly, I'm worried that you're so angry with me for all
the ways I've mistreated and neglected you in the past that you
won't want to talk with me."
5. Express your feelings. Solicit
the true expression of each other's real feelingsraw, uncensored,
unpolished, untamed. "Please, tell me how you're feeling.
If you're angry or hurt, I really want to hear about that. I
know I've neglected you in the past, and I've been wrong to do
that. I'm sorry. I'm willing to listen to whatever you have to
say to me. Don't hold back, I want to hear it all." And
ask for it all. Even after one or two major outbursts ask again:
"What else? What else can you tell me about your hurt, your
When it's your turn to express your feelings,
be honest with your belly. If it has been hurting you, tell it.
And if that pain has been keeping you from having fun or doing
things you want to do, let it know.
6. Articulate your needs. Ask the
other what it needs from you, specifically, and respond frankly.
"Belly, what do you need from me?" Ask for the details,
going from a general category of behavior ("Be nice to me")
to particulars ("Sit down when you eat, and eat slowly.
I'd like you to chew your food well rather than gulping it down!")
If you don't think you can meet the need which the other has
articulated, tell it so. "Belly, I don't know how to do
that." Or, "That's boring. I don't really think I'm
willing to do that." And you may want to add, "Will
you help me find a way to do what you need me to do for you?"
When it's your turn, again be honest with
your belly. If you need it to stop hurting you, tell it so, and
why. If you need it to operate in a different way, tell it so,
7. Express your gratitude. Tell
each other what you truly appreciate about each other, right
now. Don't fake this. Your belly knows when a compliment is insincere.
Find something, anything, that sparks the feeling of gratitude
for each of you. "Belly, for all the pain you've caused
me, at least you've pointed out that I need to treat myself with
more respect. I'm grateful to you for that."
8. Make promises that you plan
to keep. Make a promise to each other, one that you each plan
to keep. A simple, small, very specific promise will do. For
example: "Belly, I promise that at least one day a week
I will eat breakfast sitting down." And: "Lisa, I promise
I'll consider talking to you rather than hurting you to get your
Once you've received the wisdom your belly
offers, prepare to act on it. When you know what you need to
do, avoiding the follow-through is more painful than not knowing.
You're only creating one more conflict for yourself if you're
aware of what you need to do and then decline to do it.
Your belly needs to know that you're a trustworthy
character. If you're feeling ambivalent and reluctant to act
on the guidance it gives you, you have to be honest and say something
like: "I hear what you're telling me and I understand the
truth of what you say. And it scares the pants off me. I feel
as if I'd have to give up something important to me if I did
as you say. Is there any way you can help me do what I have to
do? Is there any way you can help me move beyond my fear? Is
there any way you can help me do what I need to do and still
have what's important to me?"
9. Agree to meet and talk again.
Negotiate a time, place, and method for continuing the conversation.
For example: "Belly, I'll talk with you again on paper tomorrow
night at 9:30 pm. How's that for you?" Promise each other
to meet again as agreed, and keep your promise.