At birth, we marvel at a baby’s soft appearance and movements, free from trauma and armor. When the umbilical cord is cut, life on land begins. The scar left behind becomes a remembrance of our birth. Our life apart from fluid begins as we enter the air while simultaneously leaving the fluidy world of gestating behind. Everything changes so fast. For many of us, this petite trauma is just the beginning. Although we are created from liquid and pure being, our journey into humanity, family and trauma takes us away from these aqua origins. Life’s hardships and inhumanities, big, medium, and small, trigger the bodies natural stress response. As the sympathetic nervous system starts to protect us from external dangers, increasingly greater and prolonged traumas start to take us further away from the softness of our liquid birthright. If trauma is sustained to the point where it is normal, frequent, expected, and unavoidable, the sympathetic nervous system stays on longer and longer in an attempt to protect us from harm. This chronic protecting of ourselves gradually creates a global proprioception of muscles, ligaments, tissues, and even cells, a literal hardening of the armature of the external and internal body. But this muscular armor and cellular compressing only protects us infinitesimally from the exteroception of such things as physical, verbal, emotional, and neglectful abuses.
Before birth, we are all connected to our mother through an umbilical cord. This pathway is where nutrients enter and toxins exit our bodies. Suddenly it’s cut, the scar becomes our bellybutton, but what about the pathway and its purpose? Can nutrients enter the body through the navel? Do toxins leave the body through the navel? Conventional wisdom says no but unconventional wisdom says yes. The tummy is a tender topic. Most massage therapies avoid the area. Fitness therapies seek to make it hard and defined on the outside without regard to its effects on the internal processes just below the surface. In brief, the navel is disregarded anatomically by Western allopathic medicine. But the navel and the surrounding tummy, like so many other body parts (tongue, eyes, ears, hands, feet, etc.) is a vast window into our biotraumatic patterns and internal disorders. One of my most favorite ideas can be called Global Body Attitude. I first heard this concept explained by Gilles Marin, a visceral massage therapist who has taught Chi Nei Tsang for many years in Northern California. The attitude of GBA is if an individual creates change in one part of their body, that change will create a multitude of related changes throughout the entire body. Most bodywork attempts to affect change from the periphery of the body to the core. Working with the belly is arguably a more efficient direction, affecting change directly in the core to improve the periphery.
About 2-3 fingers width below our navel, just below the skin is the dan tian, or hara, or manipura, or center of gravity. It’s the place where your fingers are naturally attracted to when given the chance to explore. Fluid compression, muscular asymmetries, trauma, conscious and unconscious emotions, stress, breathing restrictions and more are depicted in the navel’s shape, texture and quality. It is a hologram of ease and disease for the entire body. It is also a forgotten working orifice, a bidirectional portal going into and out of the body. Since the body still sends toxins to the surface, it is beneficial to rub and massage clockwise around the rim of the navel, daily, whenever possible. At first the skin becomes sensitive and red quickly, but gradually over time, the navel area will become more relaxed and soft. This tender act begins a call and response with the tummy and it will send more trapped goodness to the surface. Another helpful activity is to lie on a tennis ball right on top of the dan tian, face down on the floor. Relax, and breath right under the ball’s pressure. The feelings might be painful, pleasurable, or both. This direct pressure helps fluid and information flow.
This work works if there is an increasing awareness of interoception, the movements of liquids, solids, gases, heat, cold, energy and feelings through the internal organs, vessels, and connective tissue. Interoception is the key marker of the parasympathetic nervous system rejuvenating our unhealthy past. Traumatic events come from the outside in. But it is up to us to examine the inception of unease from our insides out. It starts with bodily fluids condensing, stagnating, compressing. This consolidating of cells is a form of cellular communicating or bioception. When fluid cells no longer move in waves and stop acting as water does, a pathology is born.
What if everything went right at the beginning of life, just for a little while? Staying connected to fluid grace a little longer while our cord is severed… In utero, the essence of fluid mothering is indistinguishable, inseparable, two being one. Resonating love to create life. The navel marks this place that we have been too before and remember. It haunts us too until we return to its grace. The liquid source of this bodily scar continues its lullaby even if we have stopped listening for it long ago.