What does your gut say?
I haven’t always trusted my gut.
When I was 21-years-old, I was exhausted, anxious, depressed, and my belly (stomach and intestines) hurt all the time. Whether I ate or not, whether I rested or not, I was in constant pain emotionally and physically.
My suffering only increased as I resisted the pain and fought against what I perceived to be “constitutional weakness.”
Looking back, I can see clearly that I was in a constant state of stress. My highly sensitive self carried 15 or more college units each semester, worked as a waitress three days a week, volunteered at the college radio station and with activist groups.
Also, my grandfather died of heart failure and a dear coworker and friend was killed in a car accident within a year of each other.
I had been living in a constant state of trauma, but, mostly I just felt defective.
Am I the only one? Have you ever judged yourself for feeling ill or sad or tired?
Our society does not want us to slow down for a stomach ache or listen to creeping anxiety that causes our digestive system to send very sad messages indeed.
Our modern world tells us to ignore the signals of our body and “push through the pain,” to “grin and bear it.”
And for some of us, all that ignoring and stuffing results in constipation, diarrhea, heartburn, belching, gas, depression, anxiety, exhaustion or worse.
So, taking the time to truly explore the relationship between digestion and our thoughts and moods might be the difference between a rich, full life and a life filled with pain and suffering.
Luckily for me, I had a health crisis in my twenties that began my awakening. My body wouldn’t let me ignore it anymore, so I began a journey into holistic medical treatments.
Over the years, I have had a few setbacks here and there (postpartum depression, diverticulitis) which have led to a deeper exploration of yoga, meditation and other contemplative practices.
And through these practices (and by reading lots of books and articles), I have learned that the gut is the central to overall health. This “second brain” deserves respect and attention.
I’m still learning from it, still being challenged by it. My belly sends me messages all the time.
In fact, did you know that 90% of the fibers in the vagus nerve (the one that connects the brain to the digestive system) carry information from belly to brain and not the other way around?
Oh, and 95% of the body’s serotonin is found in the gut. Yes, that chemical that is directly linked to mood lives right there in the center of the body…not in the brain.
So, the old saying “trust your gut” might be more true than we ever thought.
If you think your gut might be trying to tell you something, I invite you to join me for:
We will explore the intimate relationship between our thoughts and emotions and digestion. Our tools of inquiry will be breath work, meditation, slow/gentle yoga poses, guided writing exercises and self-massage.
My hope is that together, we can find more compassionate ways to digest our lives.
I hope to see you there,