I have a round belly. At the age of (almost) 42 and the mother of three children, one would expect roundness to my belly but my belly has ALWAYS been round. Even as a skinny ten year old.

Like most people, I have struggled to accept the roundness of certain parts of my body. I have worn shirts that completely hide my belly and I have also worn shirts that totally showed off my belly. At a Grateful Dead show in 1995, I had a guy say to me, “Wow! You have a really big belly!” My only response could be was to tell him, “That’s where my uterus lives. It’s supposed to be big.” Clearly, his statement had an affect because I still think about it almost 19 years later!

But, in my room, I have a face mirror that my belly looks great in! I angle the mirror and step back and my belly looks tight in all of the right places. It curves around at the bottom and dips in at the hips. There are more curves along the top and then cuts in at my oblique muscles. I can’t help but wonder, is this my belly that everyone else sees? When I step away from the mirror and look down at my belly, reality strikes. The roundness is back, even bigger than before.

This is my belly as I see it.

Then, I had a dream about my belly. In the dream, whenever I looked down at my belly, it was round where it felt right to be round and it pulled in where it felt right to be pulled in. But, when I looked in my special mirror, my belly looked big. Really big. My belly looked like it belonged on someone else’s body. When I looked back down at myself, my belly was, once again, my belly.

When I woke up from that dream, I woke up to a whole new perspective of my Self. I woke up to a whole new reality. My perspective about my Self has been, for way too long, a reflection of how I feel other people perceive me.

My belly is a reflection of my three pregnancies. It is a reflection of the life that I have lived; dancing at shows, times of healthy eating habits as well of times of midnight snacking. My belly reflects the times in my life when I couldn’t afford a lot of food as well as times of prosperity. More recently, my belly is a reflection of my yoga practice and teaching. Inhaling in through my nose, filling up my belly like it is a balloon. I use it to show my students how big my balloon belly can get to encourage them to breathe deeply into their own bellies without being embarrassed by the roundness of their bodies. With pride, I encourage them to fill up the roundness of their bellies with their own breath.

My dream has given me a new perspective on my belly. It has taught me that my belly reflects the whole of my life experiences. I have learned to recognize the beauty in the roundness of my belly. I have learned that I am just as I am meant to be. My dream has taught me that what matters the most is how I look at my Self.

I have gone back to using my mirror as it was intended to be used. For my face.