The Listening Body – Abdomen


Please note as I share this information with you, that there can be various meanings behind what our bodies store and what our bodies communicate.  This is my interpretation from my education and years of experience working with a multitude of people (and bodies).

The abdomen is one of the most sensitive or rather vulnerable parts of the body that stores our emotions and experiences – positive and not so positive. The abdomen is not often freely exposed to others and the abdomen may not be touched by another or self on a regular basis.  When was the last time you consciously touched or placed your hands on your abdomen for more than 5 minutes?  I’m not talking about rubbing your belly after Thanksgiving or indulging in too many sweets and saying “I shouldn’t have’ or ‘Make it stop.”  When was the last time some one close to you placed or laid their hands on your abdomen?  And if so, how long did you allow that to happen?  The fetal position innately protects the abdomen area, when we cry or laugh a lot, often it’s a natural response to cradle the belly.  When someone becomes too close in our personal space, we may innately interlace our hands in front of our abdomen area.  We subconsciously ‘protect’ our vulnerability by ‘protecting’ our belly’s on a daily basis.

The body itself is a storehouse of emotions, but I find that the abdomen in particular is a major storehouse for our emotions and experiences.  When emotions get suppressed, it’s literally swallowing those emotions – down the digestive tract they go to the belly to sit undigested in the nervous system and muscular system and impacting the immune system.  People will often begin to swallow when an emotion like sadness surfaces.

 When I work with someone, I look first at the abdomen. Is the belly taut and/or extended (like beer belly), with taut meaning no give in the musculature or skin.  Think of the Pillsbury Dough Boy, I know it’s an animation, but it’s how my mind works. When he’s poked in the belly, his dough is pliable and moves back.  In a taut belly, there is no give and if you thump the belly, it will have a somewhat hallow sound.  When I see this, I also take into account stress levels (cortisol hormone flooding the nervous system ) and the energy centers of the body, specifically the second Chakra. The abdomen houses various major and minor muscles as well as 100 million neurotransmitters.  Cortisol, the stress hormone (activated by suppressed emotions/experiences) can cause weight gain in the abdomen area by flooding the nervous system (neurotransmitters).  The muscles can be overstrained and tight.

Ok- now for some physical ‘consequences’ in healing:  I find that when people are ready to let go of what they have been stuffing emotionally, there usually follows a gag reflex or literal vomiting of food or dry heaves.  There may also be a gurgling within the digestion, flatulence or a letting go of the bowels – to put it nicely. This is the energy being discharged from the body or rather regurgitated back up through and out the digestive system to be released.

Exercise for Self:

Lie down in a quiet space (5-10 minutes if you have it) and place each hand, resting on your abdomen and breathe deeply into your hands.  Feel your hands move with your breath and notice what happens, if anything in your abdomen.

Ask: “What Fun or Joy do I have in my life?”

Love your Abdomen.