Galen Pearl

Galen Pearl

Galen Pearl

Fire in the Belly

I began this year thinking of it as the year of the heart. Heart energy had exploded open in my soul. I was aflame for the Beloved.

It was exciting, but hard to sustain. Fire, after all, consumes.

In martial arts we use the wisdom of the Chinese five element practice, which associates elements with various organ systems. The heart element is, predictably, fire. Fire is a rising energy, which draws upward and away from the kidney element of water, which naturally follows gravity and sinks. This separation isolates our energy centers and can drain vitality or create instability.

On the other hand, when we can harness that wild fire heart energy and bring it into our belly, what happens? Well, what happens when you light a fire under a pot of water (the water energy of the kidneys)? The water boils, creating steam, or vital energy. Now the two energy centers are operating in harmony to create tremendous internal power instead of drawing away from each other.

So how does one shift the heart fire energy into the belly? Admittedly, it takes a bit of imagination and practice. Belly breathing is a good place to start. And there are many qigong and taoist practices for guidance.

But my point here is not so much about technique as it is about concept. I don’t know where the phrase “fire in the belly” originated. It can sometimes have a negative connotation of unbridled ambition. But it can also describe the intense passion of a transcendent calling, the burning clarity of an inner knowing, the radiant glow of an unquenchable internal energy.

Fire does consume. And in consuming, it transforms and purifies. Whatever is dense or solid is burned away, releasing energy as light and heat. It destroys in order to create.

That is how I have experienced this year. The euphoria of the year’s beginning gave way to pain at times, showing me where I needed to release. And when I thought I had released everything, the fire sparked anew and showed me more. Liberation is not always a pleasant process! Yet as the fire in my belly burned on, I surrendered to the flame.

And it was good.

Gratitude to the year ending, and welcome to the new year.

16 thoughts on “Fire in the Belly”

  1. "Fire does consume. And in consuming, it transforms and purifies."
    Fire – source of heat, warmth and comfort; source of devastation when wild and uncontrolled as we witnessed in California this year. Galen, I love how you've melded the image of fire and the kidneys as a pot of water heating – the fire must be directed in a positive way to produce a good outcome. As always, it's striking that balance within us, that awareness, to help everything work in harmony.
    Blessings, and Happy New Year!

  2. You know me, I will find how your thoughts relate to my own. I am learning from your ideas. Your thoughts give me greater insight into myself and it also reminds me of the Christian idea of the refiner's fire.
    “There are many kinds of challenges. Some give us necessary experiences. Adverse results in this mortal life are not evidence of lack of faith or of an imperfection in our Father in Heaven’s overall plan. The refiner’s fire is real, and qualities of character and righteousness that are forged in the furnace of affliction perfect and purify us and prepare us to meet God.”
    Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
    I too have deep gratitude for a year of great and often hard experiences that have help me grow and learn many great lessons.
    I wanted to also tell you how much I enjoy your poetry and this last one was lovely.
    May you have a spectacular New Year Celebration and a fantastic year ahead. Hugs~

  3. Thank you, LeAnn. Like you, I enjoy learning about how our ideas overlap. The refiner's fire–that is a powerful concept.

    I'm glad you like the poetry. Happy New Year to you and your family.

  4. Thanks for your added reflections on fire, Martha. Your last sentence made me think further that when we don't interfere, balance and harmony naturally manifest without our "help." Something further to consider.

    Happy New Year to you and your family.

  5. All of my working career I worked around Fire and Heat. In the petrochemical industry we use heat to refine, and purify. The whole goal is to make pure products from the raw and unrefined. What is base is refined into the pure. When metals are brought to a very high temp, over 2000 deg F in refining furnaces all impurities float to the top. This scum layer is called dross or slag.It is removed and the metal is made pure. The Spirit seems to want to do the same in us.It wants to take what is ignoble and base and transform it into the transcendent and noble. It sound like you went through the refiners fire in 2018, Galen. Like you said 'Liberation is not always a pleasant process!' all of us on the spiritual path seem to have to go through this transforming process, and all we have to do is 'surrender to the flame'.

  6. Speaking about the heart. I have been exploring that subject of the spiritual heart for a couple of weeks. It seems that most of the great living guru's today are focusing on the heart as our center. The Buddhist, Christian and Sufi mystics are all refocusing on this. Adyashanti is concentrating on Christian mysticism and the teaching of Jesus.I learnt recently that the heart, the gut and many other systems have their own little brain. They all communicate with each other . I read a lot about heart and brain coherence, “Coherence is the state when the heart, mind and emotions are in energetic alignment and cooperation,” HeartMath Institute Research Director … When the heart, gut and mind agree all things are possible.

  7. That is fascinating, Brian. What a perfect metaphor. I read your comment several times and each time, I saw a different aspect of the comparison. Now I understand more about LeAnn's comment above about the refiner's fire.

  8. A friend was just recently telling me about HeartMath. She had read a book about it. Sounds right in keeping with this.

    By the way, the Chinese character for heart is often translated as heart/mind because of the belief that the mind, in the broader sense of the word beyond just the brain, resides in the heart.

  9. I was pondering earlier today whether the divine Spirit presence is sitting over the human, like Emerson's oversoul ….'that Over-soul, within which every man's(humans) particular being is contained and made one with all other; that common heart' … or is it actually living in the heart. Early cultures liked to envision a concept that the Spirit presence resided in temples of stone. They saw God as a separate and distant deity. Eg: the Shekhinah presence in the Holy of Holies in the Jewish holy temple, until the temple destruction in 70CE by the Romans. There have been many reference in the NT and from Christian writers over the centuries that the Divine presence can now reside in the Holy of Holies of the human heart that has been made ready to receive it. Could the spiritual heart center ( the collective human heart) be the temple( dwelling place on earth) of the divine Spirit/Atman/ Christ/Buddha? Something to wonder about.

  10. Love this post, fire in our soul can only be put there by the Spirit. And that fire is concerning others for that is God's heart. He burns to have all hear the message of the cross, He burns for His children to mature in Him. Great post.

  11. Good question, Brian. I'm not aware of something like this in the Tao Te Ching. There are other Taoist texts I'm not so familiar with, but at least in the Tao Te Ching, the primary metaphor is water. There is not a need for purification by fire because everything is by its nature already pure. The Tao Te Ching is not so much about a purification process as much as it is about a recognition of, an alignment with, and a surrender to, the natural flow of Tao as it manifests into form and returns to formlessness.

    However, the Taoist healing practices I've followed for some years recognize fire (the heart energy) as part of the creative and destructive cycles of the five elements, which I've touched in this post. Even there, however, I don't think of it as a purification element in the way we are talking about it now.

  12. The heartmath institute are confirming that the physical heart has neurons like the brain and it is our source of emotion and intuitive intelligence.The heart is now looked at as our physical center more so then the brain…almost like the central intelligence. When the heart and brain are in coherence then we are at our optimum health mentally, physically and perhaps spiritually. Its interesting the the ancient Egyptians believed the heart was our center of the life force. They had the idea of weighing the heart at death to see if it was as light as a feather.(Google Egyptian weighting of the heart)

    This an interesting link below on this subject.

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