May 17, 2013
Given that we’re all raised to hold in that belly, my title sounds like an oxymoron, doesn’t it!?
I’ve spent a few blogs talking about your breath. I guess my redundancy indicates how important I think it is. Judith Lief calls the breath “our simplest and possibly most profound connection with life…”.
My experience is that when I’m triggered—and I know I’m triggered when I’m lost in either the past or the future and my body is tight and contracted—I can almost immediately reconnect with the here and now by putting my attention on my next few breaths. Lately I’ve been playing with how quickly I can catch myself getting triggered. (I find all this stuff sits more easily if I don’t take myself too seriously—so PLAYING really is the operative word for how I work much of the time.)
My newest discovery is that once I’ve noticed my amygdala’s been hijacked—i.e. my primitive brain is in charge and I’m ready to fight or flee—if I bring my attention to my breath there’s a second step I can take that seems to open up another doorway for me. And that’s to soften my belly.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve trained myself to walk around holding in my belly, which also sometimes results in holding my breath. I wouldn’t be surprised to find that I even hold in my belly when I’m sleeping because it’s so ingrained!
When I soften my belly I seem to much more quickly get in touch not only with my body, but with my emotional life. And not the high drama, acting out, ‘I’ll never stop crying’ emotional life, but rather the richness and warmth of the basic goodness that the Tibetan Buddhists talk about which resides at our core.
The moment I remember to soften my belly a door seems to open and I experience a warmth and a sense of coming home to myself that I don’t experience in exactly the same way at any other time.
So throughout your day when you remember to put your attention on your breathing, play around with softening your belly at the same time. Because you can never get enough of your own basic goodness.