How to End the Fight With Your Belly
Have you ever listened to the way you talk about your belly? When you catch a glimpse I bet it’s not often kind.
In any group of friends you’ll hear apologies for being:
The sort of language you would never use to your best friend and yet we routinely treat our bellies as the enemy. The battlefield encompasses food, our clothes and ultimately blasts our self-esteem too. But what would happen if you ended the fight?
Mindfulness is a great tool for changing this kind of self-talk. Just noticing the judgments that arise is a powerful first step in making friends with your belly. With a more respectful attitude, you might notice which food causes a bad reaction and steer clear of it. Energy follows attention, creating relaxation, softness and better choices.
I teach women mindful self-care massage to help them end the fight with their bellies. Harnessing the physiological changes that massage brings (improved circulation, lymph flow and muscle tone) with the benefits of relaxation can create a happier digestion and body image. Just giving yourself a gentle massage once a day can have a profound effect.
What are the benefits?
Your belly is unsung heroine! She ceaselessly sorts nourishment, expels toxins and creates hormonal balance, only noticed when things go wrong or she can’t function properly. Could gratitude for what your belly does for you, (gratitude is one of the few practices that are proven to make us happier), improve your digestion too?
Mindful massage relaxes the tissues and improves circulation in the small intestine, so the vagus nerve can report to the brain that there is peace and calm down below. This helps the small intestine to sort nutrients more efficiently and reduces the tendency to bloating.
PMT and painful periods
Brown blood, headaches and that lovely constipation/diarrhea combination when you have your period, can all be indications of a miss-aligned womb. Massage to the womb can help to bring her into a better position and alleviate these pesky period problems, it’s perfect for fertility issues too.
The colon takes away the waste from our bodies and like the dustbin men, we would rather not rub up too closely to her. But did you know that the colon is responsible for producing most of the serotonin in our body? That’s one of your favourite happy hormones! Constipation not only makes your belly feel bad, it makes ALL of you feel bad!
Want to call a truce? Here’s my mindful belly practice to end the fight with your body.
Learn to massage mindfully
Doing this five-minute routine will make an improvement in your symptoms. You can use your favouite massage oil or body lotion, or if it’s chilly you can do the practice over your clothes. Make sure you loosen any tight clothes before you start. I’ve given intructions below, or if you prefer you can download the audio to listen to and massage along.
You can do your mindful massage in the morning or evening, whichever is more convenient for you.
It is not advisable to do it
- A few days before, during or immediately after your period.
- If you’re pregnant or think you might be
- After ovulation if you are trying to conceive
- If you’ve taken pain killers
- If you have an IUD
- If you have an infection.
- If you’ve had surgery, wait until the all-clear from your doctor
When to do it
- Every day if you can
- Start the day after your period finishes.
- Continue till a few days before you start your next period.
Your massage instructions
Just remember to be gentle, use slow, soft strokes and make sure it feels good. Work at a depth that feels right for you, keep breathing and when you notice you’re holding your shoulders, just let them go.
Lie on your back and get comfy by putting a pillow under your knees. A small cushion under your elbows can help your shoulders to be soft.
Place your hands on your belly between your belly button and pubic bone and take long, slow breaths into your abdomen until you feel relaxed.
Notice the rise and fall of your belly as you breathe.
Notice any thoughts or sensations as they arise and come back to your breath.
Make big, slow circles in a clockwise direction all around your belly. From hipbone to hip bone, up the sides, under the rib cage and down again. This is the direction that your digestion flows through your colon. Use a depth that feels good and keep your hands soft on your belly.
Think of all the waste that your colon has got rid for you, send your colon a giant thank you for all the work it does to keep you free of toxins.
Ask your self, what is it I need to let go of right now? Notice your thoughts and the sensations in your belly.
Next make gentle scooping circles from one hipbone to the other and say hello to your womb. Giving her some gentle attention will really help the flow of blood, lymph the nerve impulses and energy.
Beam gratitude and love to your womb and ask “What do I need to create in my life now”? Notice your thoughts and the sensations in your belly as you ask this of yourself.
Knead and scoop in the centre of your belly around your navel, enjoy your fullness. Massage over your small intestine and send her a warm smile of gratitude for all the nourishment she has sorted for you.
Ask yourself, what do I need to nourish myself now”? Be open to the sensations and your thoughts as they arise.
Finally place your hands over your belly and bring your attention back to your breathing. Notice all the new sensation you have created in your belly.
Take some time to reflect on the things you felt you wanted to let go of, create or needed to feel nourished. Set an intention to have these things happen in your life.
Keep on being gentle to yourself
Don’t forget to drink lots of water and to notice what happens with your symptoms. Your body may have a clear out for example a heavier period or bowel clear out. This is your body letting go of old holding patterns so don’t be alarmed.
There may also be an emotional release, if there is, be gentle and kind to yourself; working with your body in this deep, respectful way is deeply healing.