This article originally appeared in Spirituality & Health.

With its trillions of microbes working to regulate the immune system, produce vitamins and hormones, and communicate with the brain, the gut may just be the best advice-giver around, if you know how to listen.

As someone who struggled with at-times debilitating digestive issues for over a decade, whenever I heard the phrase, “Trust your gut,” I was almost offended.How could I trust my gut? My gut was out to get me. It cramped, bloated, twisted, turned, tightened, loosened, off-gassed, and otherwise did not cooperate on a daily basis.

No, I was certainly not about to trust my gut. All it had to tell me was confusing gibberish, with the joke always on me.A Spiral, Spiritual PathSure, I knew in some vague, intellectual way that the gut is the so-called second brain, producing serotonin and other important neurotransmitters that communicate in real-time with the mind. But I couldn’t understand that my gut held vital messages for me—about intuition, emotion, and especially about how to heal.In fact, it wasn’t until I learned how to really listen to my brilliant, wise, unappreciated belly that I gained the keys to my own healing.

The thing I feared—trusting my misbehaving gut—opened up a new level of understanding about my own spiral, spiritual path.