Apr 29 2009
I’m lying on my back and my cat Zeena is circling me; she wants to lay on my soft warm belly, as she usually does. “No.” I say. I am guarding my belly; it is still sore from the hysterectomy, and vulnerable. I protect it like a mama bear protecting her cub from a mountain lion.
This girding of my belly is a familiar thing. I am often aware of a clenching tension in my belly. It makes sense to me that this stress would impede the flow of blood, oxygen, and chi, leaving me susceptible to health problems in that area.
I tell this to Tom and he says, “You use the word stress a lot. What do you mean by it?” “Hmm, good question.” I tune into the feeling of stress. “It is really fear.” “What do you mean by fear?” he asked. I close my eyes and feel into it more deeply. What I experience is that I am breathing shallowly and my belly is tight, contracted, armored, as if resisting. I see that it’s all about protection. It is the opposite of trust.
I love to watch my cat Zeena and her brother Bo lying on their backs like rag dolls, legs outstretched, stomachs exposed, completely open and trusting. They have come a long way from being the fearful feral kittens that we discovered on our porch four years ago. Back then I would watch them through the screen door, but as soon as I opened the door they would bolt. I longed for them to trust me. I talked to them through the screen in a soft, reassuring voice, “You are safe little kitties. You can trust me.” I like to imagine that it’s much like my angels and guides, watching me from the other side of a screen, telling me, “You are safe, dear one. You are loved. Trust. Trust.”
My cats are my gurus, showing me how to bare my belly, surrendering, trusting, fully open to life. Stephen Levine talks about softening the belly as a way of healing ourselves. “We store fear and disappointment, anger and guilt in our gut. Our belly has become fossilized with a long resistance to life and to loss. Each withdrawal, each attempt to numb our grief, turns the belly to stone. Have mercy on this pain you have carried for so long, the pain that sometimes makes you want to jump out of your body.”
He advocates softening our belly by bringing loving attention to it. He says, “As we soften around the sensations and gradually move into them, they melt at the edge. It’s not opposing the hardness but rather meeting it with soft mercy, knowing that we cannot let go of anything we do not accept.”
I have begun talking to my belly the same way I talked to the fearful feral kitties on the other side of the screen, the same way I imagine my higher self is talking to me: “I love you. You can trust me. You can let go. You are safe. I will take good care of you.” As a result, my belly softens, my heart softens, my throat relaxes, and my mind quiets. The belly is control central; once it is soft, the whole system softens and relaxes, and breath comes easily.
I’ve been listening for the voice of my higher self talking to me through the screen. I recently had the thought that if I knew I was going to die soon, I would walk in nature every day. Instantly a voice came to me, saying, “Do it now.” I am now walking in nature every day, breathing through my soft, trusting belly, listening to the sweet whispers of my higher self, “You are loved. You are safe.”
Do you hear the voice of your higher self talking to you through the screen door? What is it saying to you?