The Belly Brain: Exploring Emotions

I have noticed in the last couple of years that my belly thinks . . . or rather, I should say my belly feels.  When I want to know how I am feeling, my awareness falls into my belly to see.  When my awareness is in my brain in my head, I think, I don’t feel.

I took The Family Herbalist class from Emily Ruff, of The Florida School of Holistic Living, and she said she believes the belly is a brain.  She mentioned that the belly and all the nerves that go into the intestines and digestion are much larger and more complex than the brain in our heads and our spine and nervous system.

If that is true, the belly must be a brain!  As I have become more in touch with my feelings, and the energy in the belly, I find that I do a sort of “wide angle thinking” with my belly.  It is a type of thinking that is on a broader scope and includes feelings and emotions.  The belly is also a place to sense things.  I think the brain in our heads may be an augment to the belly brain, and not the other way around.  Maybe the belly is the center of intuition.  That’s why we get a “gut feeling” about things.  We are sensing things energetically that we can’t detect otherwise.

There is a point of awareness that can be moved around your body.  Notice what happens when you put your hand to your cheek and you want to know if your hand or your cheek is warmer.  To find out, you have to move that point of awareness to either your hand or cheek to see.  To be able to tell if your hand is warmer than your cheek, you have to move your awareness to your cheek and feel your hand.  To notice if your cheek is warmer than your hand, you have to move your awareness to your hand to see if the cheek feels warm or cold to your hand.  You can move your point of awareness to any part of your body to see how that part feels.  If you move your point of awareness to your belly, notice what you experience.

“How am I feeling, and why?” is a question that can help you explore your emotional state at any given time.  The question can be asked over and over to tease out the various emotional ingredients that make up the cookie dough mix of your emotional state at the time.  After asking each time, and surrendering to nothingness to see what emotion emerges, you can ask why you are feeling that emotion.  When you surrender and get the answer, you can say, “Great, that’s good to know.”  Then you set that emotion aside and ask, “Aside from that, how am I feeling?” and surrender to the answer.  Doing this over and over separates the emotions and reasons to make understanding yourself easier.  This is a technique I learned from Tom Brown Jr., and he mentioned that it is also described in a book called “Focusing”.

There are many layers to our emotions and when I do this exercise, I am often surprised that a buried emotion is often stronger than the emotions on the surface.  If you write down the emotions that come up for you, when you are done you can ask yourself, “Which of these emotions is most important right now?” Circle the one that stands out to you.  Then you can ask, “Aside from that one (the circled one), which one stands out the most?” and circle that one and put a little #2 by it.  Do this until none stand out to you as important.  By doing this you can see which emotions are the most important to be aware of at that time.

For me, all the emotions seem to emerge from the “belly brain” and not my head, which never feels like the belly.

If anyone tries this, I would love to hear how the exercise worked for you.

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