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Mindfulness and Contemplation: New Ways to Navel Gaze

By Maya Talisman Frost

There's been a lot of talk about navels in our house lately. You see, my youngest daughter is asking to get hers pierced, and we are saying no--for now. So, naturally, I have been noticing navels more than usual.

The term "navel-gazing" means indulgent contemplation, and that's an interesting concept. Is it possible to be indulgent when it comes to contemplation? Can we get TOO caught up in it?

I'm not too worried about over-contemplation. As long as we are mindful, we aren't likely to overdo anything. What we CAN overdo is our insistence upon a certain contemplative practice as our only hope for greater mindfulness, our tenacious grasping of a particular style, or our adamant belief that mindfulness can or should be limited in any way.

Frankly, I think we could do with a whole lot more contemplation, and if contemplating a navel (pierced or otherwise) inspires mindfulness, it seems we should celebrate that.

The traditional contemplative practices include a variety of activities, such as meditation, mindful walking, mindful eating, yoga, creating art, and writing a journal. But contemplation comes in all shapes and sizes, and if surfing or raking leaves or shooting baskets or giving yourself a pedicure helps you tap into that Wow of Wonder, then focus on THAT.

The good news is that there is no need to add a new activity to your to-do list. You are already doing many activities that, with intention, can become perfect twigs on that Tree of Contemplative Practices.

Nothing woo-woo is required here. Think about everyday opportunities for greater awareness. What are your own little moments of fascination or centering? Seemingly mundane tasks--scrubbing the tub, washing the car, setting the table--are full of possibilities for contemplation.

Be creative with this use-what-you-have approach to mindfulness! Don't feel pressure to adopt a traditional contemplative practice if cleaning your horse's stall or pulling weeds helps you tap into that inner wisdom.

In fact, I'd say that those who use everyday activities as opportunities for greater mindfulness are far more likely to find moments of quiet awareness on a daily basis than those who view contemplative practices as a unique category of experiences.

It's not the activity, it's the intention. Zero in on that. Choose to pay attention, and you've got yourself some mobile mindfulness that you can take with you wherever you go.

Sort of like your navel.

About The Author
Maya Talisman Frost has taught thousands of people how to pay attention. Her playful, eyes-wide-open approach to everyday mindfulness has been featured in over 150 publications worldwide. To read her free tips for practical awareness, visit

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