The self-indulgent or excessive contemplation of oneself or a single issue, at the expense of a wider view.
When I started in fitness, I had just quit smoking, was out of shape, and felt like crap about myself. I was really good at the art of navel-gazing. Even though I hated looking at my body, I was obsessed with it. What I saw when I looked in the mirror was flabby and squishy, and I didn't like it. A lot of my motivation, at the beginning, came from wanting to look better.
In 2001, I went out west to hike for the first time. I bought a backpack and boots, and I stepped out onto those red rocks of Utah. My heart was pounding, I was huffing and puffing, but I really wanted to see the view, so I pushed myself all the way to the top. It was thrilling!
I'd get back to my room after those hikes, feeling like I should have burned off at least twenty pounds. I felt different, but my belly button looked the same. It was discouraging. Yet, something was starting to awaken within me. What was going on here? I believe I was shifting away from staring at my own body in the mirror, towards becoming aware of what my body could DO.
Fifteen years later, there are still days I look in the mirror and think, not good enough. (Hello, fear, ya liar!) But then I remember to lift my gaze away from my belly button, from how my body looks, and focus on what it can do.
My friend Marie and I are training to hike across the Grand Canyon in September. The hike is called the Rim-to-Rim-to-Rim. It is 46 miles in two days, and hiking out of the canyon is a very steep, challenging climb that we will have to do twice, on back to back days. We ramped up our training this week, and got up to two fifteen milers back to back. She did hers Thursday and Friday, I did mine Friday and Saturday.
As we were putting those miles in together on Friday, we started noticing how grateful we each were for strong legs. I started shifting away from what the mirror tells me, and got much more connected with an empowerment deep within me. One that feels gratitude for muscles that can climb hills or walk for miles. That sees the beauty of the world from within Highbanks or the Grand Canyon.
What do the trails of Highbanks, the red rocks of Utah, and the Grand Canyon all have in common? They are all much more fun to look at than my own belly button! Friends, I am sick of looking in the mirror and giving a shit. I want to look up, and out, and across. I want to gain new perspectives, and have my heart be moved. I want to think about what my body allows me to experience. I want to have such gratitude for legs that work and a heart that beats, that I don't spend another second beating myself up over a glimpse of imperfection in the mirror.
Let's find the wider view. The healthier view. The loving view.
Find your Grand Canyon. Find your Highbanks. Find your strong legs and your heartbeat and your empowerment. Lift your gaze away from your navel and out into this gorgeous, miraculous world. I'll see you out there.