I'll be honest: It's a rare thing for me to lose my appetite. I'm one of those people who eats rather than abstains in stressful or emotional situations. Nervously, I can nibble my way though a bowlful of almonds (or, to be more honest, a bag of tortilla chips) with hardly a tummy rumble. So when I lost a filling earlier this week and started taking some pain killers while waiting for my dentist to return from vacation, I was a little surprised to find that my appetite had disappeared. And so did a lot of other things along with it.
It is a common but mistaken notion among human beings that our lives are ruled by our heads. (I think, therefore I am, etc.) But over the years, I've discovered that my belly has a lot to do with who I am and how I move through the world. I usually forget about this until, for some reason, my gut is upset and I go to reach for something—physically, emotionally, energetically—only to find that there's not much for me to pull from.
People who study yoga or Pilates may know what I mean. And those who practice meditation and have learned about the hara (the area centered between the groin and navel) may also understand this. Physically, our gut is our center, and all of our movement originates from this place. If you've ever had surgery in your abdominal region, you also may understand how much we use this part of our body to originate movement. I suspect dancers know this as well. And pregnant ladies.
I also find that a distressed belly distracts me in other ways. It's hard for me to focus, my energy is scattershot, and I'm prone to fluster and fret. And impatient. Best to stay clear of me on days that I'm off my feed. Thankfully, as mentioned, this is rare.
There's a kind of wisdom, too, in our bellies. This is where we locate our sense of instinct and intuition, where we know and understand things that our heads can't seem to take up. Feelings are more gut-based as well. I'm also aware of how a peaceful belly is conducive to a feeling of groundedness and connection, how we were all once fed and nourished through our umbilical cords.
As human beings, we are a rather amazing and intricate collection of body, heart, and mind. Since our minds are so powerful, we sometimes forget how essential the body and heart are to live an engaged and balanced life, and unfortunately, it sometimes takes a measure of distress for us to be reminded of this. For me this week, lesson thoroughly learned. So hurry home please, Madam Dentist. I want my peaceful belly back!
Related: Weekend Meditation: On Counting What is Precious
(Image: Dana Velden)