Fear belly

Joey Garcia

I work out with a trainer and have tried every diet you can imagine. I’m in the gym exercising consistently four days a week, but I have not lost weight. I’ve had the same pregnant-looking belly for ten years. A friend of mine suggested that I ask you about this problem because your column has helped her a lot. No medical professionals, dietitians, or alternative healers have helped me—and I’ve seen a lot of them in the last 10 years. Any insights?

When we spoke, the first question I asked is what happened ten years ago. You explained that a significant intimate relationship ended. I asked how you felt. You said the end of the relationship left you thinking: Why get into another relationship if it will end, too? That belief has grown in you and taken on a life of its own. In other words, you are pregnant with fear, afraid of letting another person close enough that you might experience hurt, disappointment, confusion or grief. That’s why changes in your physical diet or exercise plan don’t alter your “pregnant-looking belly.” Extra weight around your reproductive organs is the barrier you’ve created to avoid evolving into a higher understanding of love. You are afraid to create a new life for yourself. So you have stayed “pregnant” rather than give birth to a new version of you.

At the core (aha!) of your problem is an inability to accept that death is a part of life. We must mourn the end of relationships—a divorce, a breakup, a friend’s death, a pet’s passing or the release of a childish dream. If we do not learn to mourn well, we miss invitations to grow in wisdom about ourselves and about the nature of reality. Mourning is a journey through an underworld of our own making. In the process, we confront our fears, feelings, and beliefs about love, life, God and ourselves. To travel well through grief, we must surrender what weighs us down. If we let go, we will travel toward the enlightened awareness of our own strength, resilience and joy. So grief and mourning are essential to our education in what it means to be human and alive. Without these lessons, we may have moments of happiness but will never meet true joy. Happiness is fleeting because people, things or experiences outside of us trigger it. Joy is a sustained way of being that acknowledges the reality of suffering and the reality of our resurrection from suffering. To exist with joy as the ground of one’s being is to be aware of what it means to be fully alive through suffering and rebirth and to live forward with a more open heart and mind.

One last thing—excess belly weight can also be traced to serious medical problems. If you haven’t recently had a full examination by your doc, please do. But for many of us, that pregnant-appearing belly is nothing more than a life unlived, the past waiting for delivery, our ego-based beliefs crying for a midwife. Evolution begins with our willingness to challenge self-created obstacles to love and loss.

Meditation of the week
“I believe the world is beautiful and poetry like bread is for everyone,” wrote Roque Dalton, Salvadoran poet. Do you believe in abundance?

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