What if your belly — the most maligned feature of women's bodies — were not shameful but sacred? What if your belly were home to the profound wisdom, power, and guidance ready to reveal itself to you through image, breath, story, and ritual? What if your body's center were in fact sacred space, temple of the Sacred Feminine as She lives within you?
If you want to make peace with your body and your belly — if you want to claim the treasure waiting for you within your body's core — join me on this journey of discovery. We'll invoke story, image, breath, ritual, and more as we go.
Mary Christmas! Being Pregnant with God
What could be more magical than birthing the return of light into a darkened world?
What could be more magical than dissolving shame and restoring the brilliant shine to a woman's life?
For all its shrillness and glitter, the Christmas season offers us images of Mary, big-bellied, pregnant with the Power of Being, however you might name it.
Allowing ourselves to deepen into those images might well dissolve the shame that so often obscures the light imbuing our bodies. Allowing ourselves to resonate with Mary might well unleash the life-celebrating energy already radiating from our bellies, our body's core.
Body image happens to be the one issue that is the closest to “universal” [shame trigger].... What we think, hate, loathe and wonder about the acceptability of our bodies reaches much further and impacts far more than our appearance. The long reach of body shame can impact who and how we love, work, parent, communicate and build relationships.
Sampling a diverse group of women, Brené Brown found that more than 90 percent struggled with body image. Other research indicates that the majority of women focus our body image angst on our body's center, our bellies.
As one woman revealed to me following an Honoring Your Belly workshop: "My belly is the focus of my self-loathing."
Brené Brown knows it, you know it, I know it: shame hurts.
The ingenious Dr. David Hawkins has proven just how much it hurts.
Using a well-tested experimental protocol in multiple studies spanning 30 years of research, Hawkins has defined a Map of Consciousness. The map attaches numerical values to the array of human attitudes and emotions, using an arbitrary scale of 1 to 1,000.
Love, Joy, and Peace ring in at 500 through 600. Courage, 200. Apathy, Fear, Anger, and Pride range from 50 to 175.
Shame? It logs in at 20, the very bottom of the scale of human consciousness.
"Since it pulls down the whole level of personality," says David Hawkins, "Shame results in a vulnerability to the other negative emotions, and therefore often produces false pride, anger, and guilt."
So let's look to the image and example of Mary, the key yet largely overlooked figure in this Yuletide season, for inspiration on dispelling shame. For life-saving grace.
Who's Mary? God's baby-mama.
She took it on faith from the angel Gabriel that she and her big belly would give birth to a savior. As in Luke, 1:28-38—
And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favored, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.
And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favor with God.
And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Jesus.
And Mary said...be it unto me according to thy word.
What if Mary had dismissed that angel as a crazy daydream? “I've just got to stop hearing those voices.”
What if she stood in front of her mirror for the next nine months and pouted? “Look at my belly! I'm getting so fat. No matter how hard I work out, no matter how much I diet, I just can't get rid of this belly.”
What if she laced up her shapewear all the more tightly? What if she got busy scraping up the money for a tummy tuck?
What if, on Christmas eve, she finally accepted the fact that she was pregnant with God — and balked? “Oh, no. Sorry, not ready yet. Some other time.”
Now here's the question that interests me. What if we — women and men; with and without children; wanting and never wanting offspring — know ourselves to be Mary?
Mary gave birth, yes, to Jesus. More to the point, she gave birth to Christ consciousness, the evolutionary impulse to expand our human capacity for compassion, wisdom, love. The ability to expand our embrace to include more and more in our experience of union. She gave birth to world-saving grace.
Christ consciousness grew in Mary's belly. Mary gave birth to Christ consciousness from her womb.
Just so, within each of us — within our bellies, within our body's center — dwells a concentration of life force, vital energy. This pro-creative power not only brings children into the world. Directed by intention and love, this life-affirming power promotes creation in any dimension we choose.
Women and men around the world have learned to cultivate this power through movement and breath as structured by healing rites, spiritual practices, traditions of dance.
The knowing encoded in these rites, practices, and traditions has not expired. It remains with us in our bellies, our blood and our bones. It's available to us now as a thread connecting humanity through time. It's the technology, so to speak, that allows you to formulate and manifest the world-saving grace that only you can birth.
Like Mary, we each are pregnant with God.
Listen. Mary Christmas! An angel is trying to tell us something.
How are we going to answer?
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