A Lifestyle Lesson for Stomach Pain
Stomach pain is one of the most common physical ailments that people seek my coaching for. Whether its IBS, colitis, or actual pain in their stomach, clients continually present with challenges with digestion.
On a physical level, digestion is related to getting the nutrition out of our food, processing water, and getting rid of waste.
But on a metaphysical level – the dimensions of the mind – digestion literally means the way we digest, or process, our experiences. Specifically, it refers to the stories in our mind we assign to the sensations we experience in our body.
So when I support clients with stomach pain, we don’t just talk about the yoga poses, nutrition, and supplements that can resolve their issues, we talk about their relationships, the state of their mind, and the alignment of their soul in their everyday lives.
If you have trouble with digestion, here are three practices that can help.
SEE: Before determining how to support digestion, you must first truly understand where your stomach pain is.
We tend to lump a lot of problems under “stomach pain” – including IBS, colitis, heart burn, esophageal spasms, and hiatal hernias. Usually when we refer to “stomach pain,” it’s more accurate to say “digestive pain.”
Before getting to the crux of what’s going on, you need to locate exactly where your stomach pain is.
Let’s start by placing your hand at your chest. If you feel discomfort here, you’re likely experiencing heart burn or esophageal spasms.
Now move your hand at the center of your solar plexus, where your ribs come together at the bottom to create an upside-down V. If your pain is here, you actually might be experiencing breathing trouble related to a tight diaphragm.
Move your hand ever so slightly to the left. Now you’re hovering over your stomach. Pain here may indicate an ulcer, trouble with stomach acid, or a hiatal hernia.
Continue to move your hand just a little more to the left. This is your spleen. For far too long, I mistook pain in my spleen as pain in my stomach. So nothing I was doing for my stomach helped. Once I had a better understanding of the origin of pain, I could adjust my practices accordingly – and then it healed.
Now slide your hand down just below your ribs, in the space between your ribs and your belly button. If you experience discomfort here, it could be related to your small intestine and colon. Issues like IBS and diverticulitis manifest here.
Move your hand down just below your belly button. If you experience discomfort here, it could be related to your large intestines (e.g., colitis) or if you have a uterus, your reproductive system.
Once you have a better idea of the location of your physical discomfort, you can examine how to change your lifestyle accordingly.
STOP: Stop eating foods foods we know aggravate digestion.
Although changing our diet is one of the most difficult things we do, understanding the relationship between sensations in our body, stories in our mind, and signals in our relationship can better loosen the grip of fake and faulty food on our nervous systems.
Here are five foods known to aggravate digestion: gluten, dairy, caffeine, alcohol, and white refined sugar.
Experiment. Try omitting one or all of these foods from your diet for 90 days and see what happens.
Yes, 90 days might seem like a lot. But that’s how long it will take for you to truly see results.
I have many clients who come to me saying they’ve tried omitting food before and it hasn’t worked. Usually this is because they’ve only stayed away from triggering foods for a couple weeks at a time.
START: Begin supplementation and emotion integration.
There are definitely physical changes you can make that will greatly change the way your body digests your life. Cutting out triggering foods MUST happen first. All the supplementation and good nutrition in the world won’t negate the effects of them.
But once you’ve done that, pairing your new practice with supplements can really help.
Personally, my digestion has been transformed with the following.
Magnesium Citrate*: A high quality magnesium citrate softens stools and soothes the nervous system.
Probiotics: I’ve tried a TON of probiotics, but never stuck to them because they didn’t work. However, I swear by LoveBug probiotics and I make sure I always have a backup bottle so I never run out.
Digestive Enzymes: Probiotics and enzymes work differently. While probiotics nurture the biome of your gut, enzymes will support in actually digesting your food.
Gui Pi Wan: I’m an avid believer in Traditional Chinese Medicine, and SpleenVive™ from Guang Ci Tang supports my spleen in ways nothing else has. Taking it resolves my pain.
Lie on the floor and rest your feet up a wall. This creates an inversion that increases blood flow to your digestive system. Many of my clients who get activated during sessions will do this exercise and their discomfort goes away. If you have high or low blood pressure, please exercise caution.
WAYS OF BEING
The other important aspect of healing digestive issues is changing the way we digest our stories in our mind and signals in our relationship. Here is a quick list of things I’ve seen can help.
Colitis: Set more boundaries; express your anger.
IBS: Move away from discomfort; express your desire for more space.
Spleen Issues: Reduce worry in your mind; increase your faith.
Stomach Pain: Admit your limitations on how much you can do; stop overextending yourself.
MAGIC MANTRA: I am in charge of my life.