Weed Wanderings herbal eZine with Susun Weed

October 2004
Anti-Cancer Lifestyle ...
Deepening Your Search

excerpt from The Woman's Belly Book
by Lisa Sarasohn
plus...a review by Lynne Murray


What is this earthen bowl of treasure that you've found?

It's your belly. And loving your belly enables you to claim the treasure inside.

What are you going to do?

If you're like most women, you've always been told that your body isn't good enough, that your belly is shameful. As far as you may know, there's nothing good about a woman's belly unless it's flat and hard. You may have spent many years and much effort trying to lose your belly, trying to hide it from sight.

I know that the idea of loving your belly might be challenging. Okay, it might be rather unconventional. Well, given the culture's bias against women's bellies, loving your belly might actually require some courage. But tell me: Whose body is it, anyway? Who has the say-so? Who benefits when you belittle your belly? Who benefits when you befriend your belly and give yourself room to breathe? It's your body, your belly, your life. Whose permission do you need to love yourself?

I know that loving your belly is a strange, wild, unconventional idea. But what's the alternative? Do you really want to miss out on the precious treasure that's so close to home?

Although it's not necessarily easy, loving your belly is actually simple.

Here's the plan—
The first step is unwrapping the bowl. You'll learn to let your belly breathe. And I'll help you cancel the common misconceptions that give woman's belly a bad name. You'll discover how your belly boosts your physical health and emotional well-being. Learning the truth will change the way you think about your belly.

The next step is lifting the lid and opening the bowl, creating a loving relationship with your belly. You already know how to love. I'll suggest fifteen playful ways you can extend your affection to your body's core, centralizing your self-esteem.

Loving your belly enables you to open the bowl and claim the treasure waiting inside. For each of the seven jewels you'll find, I'll suggest patterns of breathing, imaging, and moving. These belly-energizing exercises will make the jewels shine all the more brightly for you.

The tips for loving your belly and the belly-energizing exercises you'll find here are similar to those I've shared with hundreds of women in my weekly classes, workshops, and weekend retreats. They're the fruit of my more than twenty years as a yoga teacher, yoga therapist, bodyworker, and health educator.

I initially developed this material for my own healing. These inquiries and exercises are what enabled me to make peace with my belly and move beyond my own eating disorder. I'll tell you my story later. For now, know that you're joining an expanding circle of women who share this adventure with you.

Throughout these pages you'll find women's words about their own experience becoming belly-proud. Consider these voices to be your personal chorus of support.

As we begin, please note that I'm not asking you to engage in a self-improvement program. I am inviting you to find out what the earthen bowl you've discovered, your belly, is really worth.

Sure, you may want to change some of the ways you think, feel, breathe, value, choose, move. I encourage you to make such changes only because you're being true to an ever-deepening sense of who you already are.

Why bother loving your belly? Because that's the only way you can claim the treasure that's waiting inside.

Still, you might be wondering: Will loving my belly flush away the fat? Will it trim my tummy?
If you are asking those questions, there's another one to consider: What is your underlying concern?

Perhaps you hope that trimming your tummy will allow you to like yourself better. (I can relate! And if this is your concern, you're in company with many other women.)

In otherwise healthy women, I suspect that extra belly fat can function as protective padding, a shield from self-criticism and a buffer against the feeling of shame. It's an intriguing possibility: Will replacing self-criticism with self-respect allow that extra layer of fat to melt away? If that's an experiment you'd like to make, I'm glad to help you do so….

Does loving your belly make excess fat obsolete? Does energizing your belly with movement and breath strengthen your abs? That's been my experience. Tell me about yours.

As you love your belly, "trimming the tummy" may become less of a concern. In fact, the problem itself may fade away as you turn your attention toward self-affirmation.

Here's what one woman says:

"I rode the roller coaster of dieting and deprivation and starving and depression. I felt I was only worthy if I looked the way others wanted me to look. My life felt like I was swimming upstream."

"Then, I began looking inside and started to really glean the truth about myself, finally glimpsing my essence. I discovered that none of it had anything to do with the way I looked. I realized that the Universe doesn't care how big my belly is…"

"As I learned these lessons about my spirit, my internal Self, I began standing taller, smiling more, moving with more purpose, and walking the path of self-love and acceptance."
—Alison Hilber

Again, I want to emphasize that I'm not making any judgments about belly size or shape. I'm not saying big bellies are better than small bellies. I'm not saying flat bellies are better than round bellies.

I am saying: Love your belly, lose the shame. Honor and exercise your belly as the source of your inner strength—that's the best way I know to claim your inner treasure.

Why bother loving your belly? There's one more reason.

Whatever happens to the center happens to the whole. As you learn to love your body's center, you're on the fast track to loving your whole self.

Above is an excerpt from The Woman's Belly Book
by Lisa Sarasohn. If you are interested in purchasing a copy, go to

A review by Lynne Murray
The Woman's Belly Book

by Lisa Sarasohn

Dispelling the shame and learning to love my belly certainly saved my life.
(The Woman's Belly Book, p. 102)

Yoga teacher Lisa Sarasohn is very serious about women getting in touch with their bellies, a.k.a. their sacred centers. This is a portion of women's anatomy that causes intense anxiety. Mass media would have us believe that bellies are fair game for ridicule unless they are flat or rippling with muscle.

The belly has been the innocent target of such tidal waves of negative media attention that even people (of both sexes) who have accepted the rest of their bodies often will view their bellies as the repository of all unworthiness. The degree to which people seek to lose fat in that area and have their bellies "disappear" tells us of the desperate amount of hatred involved. Even when a woman starves herself into minus clothing sizes and her rib cage and other bones begin to show, she is likely to have some fat on her abdomen. The anorexic death wish that women are encouraged to foster makes it possible to demonize even the amount of fat necessary for survival.

As Sarasohn puts it--
In many ways our culture "can't stomach" woman's belly. Whether we're awake to it or not, that rejection is painful. We often cope with the culture's rejection by cooperating with it -- by scorning our own bellies, numbing our core feelings, and denying our instinctive knowing. We try to protect ourselves as well as we can.

When we cooperate with the culture's rejection, however, we repress our sense of self. We muffle our inner authority, guidance and purpose. We mute our creativity. We restrict our sexual expression.
(The Woman's Belly Book, p.38)

"I always say tummy, never stomach or belly," said a gentleman of my acquaintance who has long admired larger-figured women. He is very careful about how he expresses his attraction, though, because he has learned the hard way that the very word "belly" can cause emotional meltdown in women of all sizes. Tummy is a less threatening word. It's an infantile word, like "tush," and you could imagine rubbing a little baby's tummy with affection.

Affection for tummies gets lost very soon these days in a sea of negativity. Body hatred for young girls can kick in even before grammar school. By the time a woman reaches adolescence, when she thinks of her body, she meditates not on its strength or beauty, but on what's wrong with it.

Is there a woman alive in America who doesn't know what her so-called "figure flaws" are? If so, she must have never picked up a women's magazine, read a book on clothing, watched a television program on self-improvement, or talked to a helpful girlfriend who will be able to instantly and generously inform her of just where her figure fails to measure up to the ideal. How many women in America have a wholesome relationship with their bellies?

The Woman's Belly Book bravely and gently engages in dialog with those who might be hoping that if they learn to love their belly, it will take on the desired shape. The author says that many readers may wonder, "Will loving my belly flush away the fat, will it trim my tummy?" Each time she addresses this question, she answers, in essence, "maybe," at the same time directing the reader to a deeper level of inquiry.

Perhaps the author is basing her quiet, but affirming approach on an understanding gained through her own experience of decades of conflict. She says:

For twenty years, beginning when I was seventeen, I devoted myself to "banishing my belly." All I accomplished during that time was to make myself miserable and jeopardize my health. For the next fifteen years, I dedicated myself to deepening my body awareness and understanding the significance of woman's belly in the context of history and culture.

This is the truth as I know it: Woman's belly and the power it contains are necessary to our survival, both as individuals and as a tribe. What's necessary to our survival is sacred.
(The Woman's Belly Book, p. 102)

For those brave enough to read it and open up to its message, The Woman's Belly Book provides wise and helpful tools to peel away the layers of negativity and open the long-smothered and constricted power of our own body's center. Cause for celebration -- wisdom, energy and treasure, all as close as your next breath and only waiting to be uncovered, respected and energized

To read more about The Woman's Belly Book, by Lisa Sarasohn, go to http://www.susunweed.com/herbal_ezine/September04/anti-cancer.htm

© Lynne Murray, February 2004.

Woman's Belly Book:
Finding Your True Center for More Energy, Confidence, and Pleasure

by Lisa Sarasohn ~~ Your body's center, your belly, is home to your core life force. It's the site of your soul power, the source of your passion and creativity, your intuition and sense of purpose, your courage and confidence. The Woman's Belly Book presents inspiring information, playful activities, and power-centering exercises to kindle the life energy concentrated in your body's core. Are you ready? Honor your belly and activate your Source Energy.
Retails for $15.95
Order Here

Susun Weed is one of America's best-known authorities on herbal medicine and natural approaches to women's health. Her four best-selling books--recommended by expert herbalists and well-known physicians--are used and cherished by millions of women globally. Topics include childbearing, breast health, menopause, wellbeing, and more.

The Wise Woman Center exists to re-weave the healing cloak of the Ancients. This land is sacred, it is a safe space for women, and a place for the teachings of the Wise Woman Way. The Goddess lives here, as do goats, fairies, green witches, and elders. There are many classes, workshops and intensives that are offered at the Wise Woman Center.
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