We sat in a circle this past Saturday as part of RED, a creative community for women. It was our first meeting of the new year, and the invitation was to put our hands on different parts of our body and listen to what wisdom our body might share.
It was chilly in the room and I was sick with a nasty cold. I hadn’t wanted to miss the workshop so had taken a dose of cough syrup to get me through the day. As we closed our eyes and put our hands on our hearts, throats, bellies, I drifted down thinking how lovely it would be to take a nap about now. After each body part, we were to pick up our notebook and write down any impressions. In my case, in this almost-sleep state, it was nearly impossible for me to recall what I’d seen. It was as though each time the meditation ended, a wave would wash up on the shore and wipe away all the memories. I had just moments to capture the images before they were already forgotten.
Afterwards, we were invited to share, but I had the distinct feeling there wouldn’t be much for me to say. Plus, I wasn’t wearing my glasses so I couldn’t even really read what notes I had jotted down. But, low and behold, even in my cough-syrup-induced doze, I discovered much more than I thought.
Here is what I wrote after putting my hands on my belly:
“Round and lush and full. Perfectly formed. Cup me, the ‘ME’ in your hands. See how I fit there, cupped in your hands. Perfection. There is the seat, held in your hands. Softening, softening belly. Releasing in the belly. We hold so much there. Today she is soft and releasing.”
As I shared that impression with the women, I rubbed my hands on my belly, my soft round belly. I remembered how I used to do that all the time when I was pregnant. It felt so good, so comforting. To feel the life there, and how my hands glided over the curves. How perfectly shaped I felt. There was such delicious pleasure in the act of running my hands over my round belly.
But then, once my daughter was born, it became all about slimming the belly down, flattening that belly out, becoming tight and trim once more. I never got into sit ups, but I chose clothes that camouflaged that belly. My belly became something I hid. Tight, and hard, and locked up tight.
I know for a fact I am not alone in this way of thinking. No matter our size, our shape, our weight, we are always hiding, disguising, locking down something tight. Out of fear, out of shame, out of doubt.
So, what a revelation it was to sit there with my community of women and put my hands on my belly in welcome, in acceptance, in love. Soon all the women were doing the same, moaning in pleasure. Yes, yes! As we stroked and comforted ourselves with our hands on our bellies. Letting it all hang out. In the pleasure of that, we ran hands along curves and up breasts. Laughing together, we acknowledged that we often touched our breasts, unintentionally, unaware, sometimes even in public. “Hello, there. You feel so good. You are warm and squishy and soft, and fit my hands perfectly.” Why should our partners have all the fun?
Something shifted in me that afternoon. It had been coming for a while, this greater sense of acceptance of who I was. And on this day I felt a great sense of rejoicing and peace in accepting this body just as she was, perfect.
How yummy to rub and squish this belly and find comfort in the act, like eating a big bowl of pasta or bread smothered in butter. Don’t you just feel sooo good in my hands. In accepting this belly, in all of its roundness, I was embracing the ‘all of me’ – the source of life, the seat of my creativity, and the promise of new beginnings.
We rub the laughing Buddha’s belly for luck, for good fortune. Now, imagine a room full of women (and men) rubbing their own bellies. What a wonderful thing it might be if we rubbed our own in appreciation. And in that rubbing find a sweet source of abundance, love and joy.
Darling, don’t you just feel so good!
Wishing you all a magnificent new year!