Year of Self-Compassion #14 #gut

Sitting in the sun today, wondering what April is thinking having all these warm days in a row. The vines are turning golden and getting very dry around the edges, the garden is thirsty and winter clothes remain tucked up in the wardrobe. At this rate it is unlikely we will be pulling on hats and coats, scarves and gloves anytime soon. While we might be ready the elements have another idea. The weather often serves as a perfect metaphor, all the senses alerted and the skin transmitting osmotic advice deeper into the body.

With the warmth still in the ground and hardening, becoming more dusty underfoot, it is easy to slip into consideration of times where every bit of goodness is being sucked out of solid foundations. Sun-rays drawing the moisture out of the earth seem to get stronger as the day gets longer before Sister Wind has a go at blowing her gentle, autumnal breathe, to remind us that the season is changing even though all the signs aren’t there yet. There are glimpses of change in the landscape, sometimes ambiguous, a flowering that is early or late, a billowing sail through the trees as night falls, a bird that has usually left by now, still in the garden. Grief is like this too, sometimes the season starts when we aren’t ready, although we have known for years the due date; sometimes there are surprises or mis=steps to bring more complexity to what should be routine or predictable. Grief offers a master class each day in ambiguity – where memories make the decision of what serves you to be re-membered or best left on the shelf. There is an empty pit deep in my stomach and I am shifting my attention away from the emptiness to the lining of my belly which is holding this space. I hold space as a professional practice, and now I am literally getting a lesson from the inside about holding space. I haven’t even noticed that the space was being held, such is the high quality of the holding. This noticing is giving a whole new sense of respect for one part of me taking its turn for another bit to do the work.

The calendar holds the space for the month, all the while, the days and nights will do what they need to do in that space. The great Holding to match Never Ending Story’s the Nothing. My stomach has been a great informer on my well-being on this journey of late, as effective as any barometer for the seasonal change. There is so much information now about the gut, gut health and how it is our second brain and we now know there are about about a hundred million neurones in our intestines. The gut brain helps us with our gut feelings and therein lies a bit of secret – the gut and feelings – being paired. I have been reflecting not just on my own body, but those bodies I have known who have had gut reactions in their life – some of them pretty alarming – like bowel cancer, anorexia or bulimia, over-eating, gagging or choking on food. I am seeing all these as the gut brain talking and sending signals and deciphering and listening to this brain is a way to access and trust feelings. I have made some regretful decisions because I have felt with my head, rather than with what my gut was telling me. Now I want to honour that part of my body not just for its self, but also for its capacity to protect me, if only I let it.

Just as the sun comes when I want the next season to line up with the calendar, and my gut brain to align with my head brain, the elements will have their way to poke and point me to safety if only I get it the attention it has earnt and deserves. Just as the earth turns on her axis, and all our stomach turn and churn what we put into them, so new intelligence forms about the season we are in (and I can’t help with a pun courtesy Ecclesiastics and Pete Seeger – to every season, turn, turn, turn.)

I give thanks for the lining that holds the space, where it can hold butterflies, or allow a chasm so deep and wide it feels like an out-of-body experience. It might be time for some digestive healing, to “trust my gut” and feel through the walls who are holding the space for me to have the feelings in the first place.

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