The sound of loud thunder blasted through the house the other day startling my two-year-old grandson. His face scrunched up with fear as the rumbling reverberated against the walls of our house.
Then all of a sudden in the midst of the wicked mid-day storm, my grandson stopped, stood tall and still, and quieted himself. Lightly patting his tummy, he looked up and exclaimed, I-okay.
His fearful frown soon turned into a bright beaming smile. It was as if he had discovered a peaceful place within himself, a presence, and an inner power that calmed him in the midst of the storm.
Many spiritual teachers explain that the center of our gravity, the place within our body from which God connects with us, is just two to three fingers below our navel. It is from that place within our belly that we are grounded in God, that we find our gut instincts, our higher power. And perhaps it’s no coincidence, they say, that God chose the place where our umbilical cord once was located to connect our physical bodies with his Spirit.
Instinctively, it seems my grandson was reaching for that place within himself as he patted his belly. The reassurance in his voice and posture as he proclaimed those two simple words, I okay, suggested that he had connected, he had centered himself, touched the life force of the Creator gently resonating within him. At that moment as he joined with something deeper than himself, his fear shifted to love, and a deep inner knowing allowed him to resume his innocent play with trust and confidence.
When we sit in the Quiet and our attention touches that place deep within our bellies, we might notice a simple energy, a vibration, a current that gently pulsates and then rises up within in us through our abdomen, chest, and head.
In her book, The Reality of Being, Jeanne-de Salzmann, drawing from the teachings of G.I. Gurdjieff, tells us that our belly is the place we connect with God in our physical bodies. It is the umbilical cord, which unites us to our Creator. The sensations in our stomach as we sit quietly noticing the movement within, often resonate with a gentle tingling, an energy circling within us. This sensation, she and Gurdjieff teach, is the Presence of the Holy One, the pure energy of love. Essence.
And as we practice noticing these sensations, our mind begins to quiet, our emotions steady, as these three centers—our mind, body and emotions—then work in harmony opening us to experience the presence and wisdom of God.
Gurdjieff says that this Presence is the felt experience of God. As we awaken to this Presence there is an inner body we touch, a life-force of pure and tender energy that is the love of God flowing within us.
It takes a gentle discipline, he says to come back to this awareness of God’s Presence throughout the day. When we get caught up in the automatism, the mechanics of daily living we simply need to become aware of our inattention and then come back to the Presence by relaxing our bodies and noticing the sensations we feel in our gut.
Like Brother Lawrence says in his timeless book, Practicing the Presence of God, when we allow ourselves to come back to this Presence throughout the day it becomes second nature, and we too can exclaim as we pat our bellies, I okay!
brian j plachta
I never got that kiss with Teresa. But as I reflect on that long-ago night, I realize Sister Carmella shared two pieces of wisdom I’ll never forget: to leave room for Jesus and the healing power of a smile.