Weekly Word – Omphaloskepsis

I see you out there, reading the subject line and asking, “Huh?” Now don’t go scurrying to your dictionaries to find out what I’m blithering about this time. I will share, young padawan learner.

This is a hurry scurry world with lots of demands on our time. Rarely do we get to just sit with ourselves. If you’re like me, those spare moments are spent reading blogs or, as I’m doing now, working on my own post. While blogging can be therapeutic to us, we still should spend time with the one person we’re always with…ourselves.

One such method is Omphaloskepsis. Derived from some ancient language like Hittite or East Si-ede*, it roughly translates into ‘Contemplating One’s Navel’. No, not naval, as in “Ahoy, Mate” or “Buy Me A Drink, Sailor?”… navel…belly-button…tummy-tunnel…

Omphaloskepsis is just one way of getting yourself into a meditative state (which is where all the mental healing and revelations are supposed to happen). Concentrating on your navel, while pushing out external annoyances, can help you achieve the ‘nothingness’ required for a good meditate. Sort of like repeating “Om” over and over.

The benefit of meditation, of course, is that even if you don’t have those super flashes of insight (“I remember where my car keys are!”), you usually get a sense of relaxation and calm.

While the phrase ‘contemplating your navel’ is typically attached to this deep self-psychological examination, there is the physicality–or action–of the phrase as well. I would wager a round of good beer or Scotch that many of you engage in the latter. For example–

Our fine cotton and wool clothing will shed tiny bits of fabric which, mysteriously, find their way to take up residence en masse in our navels—the ubiquitous belly lint. I’d further wager that there are likely more than a few of us who, on removing said lint, feel a sense of awe if it’s a big wad… or even share it with our significant others. “Look at the size of this hunk of lint, dear!”**

Or, how many of you have stood in front of a mirror bemoaning the spare tire (bicycle sized for some, monster truck for others) which has snuck its way around our midsections. Then, while standing there, you grab your gut, and your eyes seem to focus on the navel…”Hey, I can make it dance!” or “Look how I can make it talk—‘Hi, Honey, how are you?’.”***

I find that exercising either aspect of omphaloskepsis, whether physical or mental, is a great way to a sense of well being, even if briefly. I recommend you take a few moments sometime today and give it a shot…if even for a minute. You’ll feel better.


*Yeah, I made those up…it’s really from the Greek

**I’ll need to ask for a hand count. Raise ‘em high. Oooo, lots of you.

*** Yep, I need another show of hands…don’t be shy, the rest of the folks can’t see you…seven…eight… yep, a few of you, for sure.


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9 Responses to “Weekly Word – Omphaloskepsis”

  1. Rob Says:

    I never really watched it but, apparently, Baywatch’s David Hasselhoff was quite the tyrant on the set. We evidently have him – and his strict navel inspections – for the lint-free enjoyment of semi-naked bods during the run of that particular TV series.

    Personally, I mostly just absent-mindedly finger-dig (I guess you could say that I’m in a state of omphaloskepsis doing this) the lint from my own navel and flip it into the trash. (Or, if I’m in bed, onto the floor…) Nah! Just kidding on that last one. Really.

  2. Rob Says:

    PS: I’m really starting to hate that WordPress turns my “close parenthesis” into a winking smiley…

  3. Dolce Says:

    I know this; when I find my navel, i shalll pierce it.

  4. daisyfae Says:

    i’m having mine removed. going for that “alien” look…

  5. Mandy de Waal Says:

    Oh my snap. Where the omphaloskepsis in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory?

    Nah. You’re right. Those were the OmphaLomPhas.

  6. Parenthesis Says:

    Rob: leave me out of this, eh? 😉
    Nice post gnukid. I can relate. Haven’t actually found any lint in it, but you’ll be the first to know when I do 🙂

  7. thegnukid Says:

    Rob – i’m with you on the smiley winky (which is also another game to play with your navel). i’m sure others at your house would be a bit perturbed to find piles of lint on the floor next to your side of the bed.

    Dolce – it’s gone missing? i’ll alert the navel authorities at once! And i think a nice garnet would look nice on your b-button.

    daisyfae – so…what do the docs do with the removed navel? Is there a navel transplant list? Knowing your side business of selling parental kidneys, can you sell THAT on e-bay, too?

    Mandy – you were close…and if you’re drunk while watching that movie, they do resemble navels…

    Parenthesis – i’m sitting by my computer on “Lint Alert” in antici……………. pation of your report

  8. silverstar98121 Says:

    Sorry I missed this post. I must have been navel-gazing.

  9. nursemyra Says:

    isn’t it only men who get lint in their navels? it’s trapped by their hairier torsos. and why is it always the same colour – a dark bluey grey?

    here’s another word for your arsenal. the name given to a collection of navel lint is “pledget”

    something to drop into your next conversation around the water cooler

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