Naval Gazing…

Oh how scornful I used to be about naval gazing! “Naval gazing is for sissies” (I’d say). “People who always look inward are boring” (I’d say). “Self-help books are naff” (I’d say).

My how times have changed. I am now the queen of naval gazing – I love it!  I’m lapping up as many self-help books as I can get, listening to as many podcasts and TED talks as I can, talking to people about real emotional stuff whenever it’s appropriate, reflecting on my own feelings often, pausing and ‘checking in’ with myself regularly…if this is naval gazing then consider me a convert. I love it all.

(I also watch a lot of Reality TV, read trashy magazines & cookbooks, dance to cheesy pop tunes and gossip about mundane matters regularly – I’m fairly well-rounded I like to think!)

I’ve gone a bit crazy at the library lately thanks to many great recommendations from Living Sober members, and I’ve been loaned some great books recently as well. Check out the pile that is currently on my bedside table…

Book pile

Ok so this is rather ridiculous and I’m not sure if I’m going to get through all of them but it shows you the turnaround in my reading habits & interests since I got sober.

But the truth is that this shit works. Feeding my brain with different opinions, attitudes, experiences & techniques actually works to help keep me calm and happy as I move about my life. It makes me more mindful of my moods and my habits.. gives me food for thought, techniques I can try, approaches I can take. Or if nothing else it just lets me know that being a human is really difficult and we’re all in the same bloody boat!

I watched this great clip of Daniel Siegel on Sunday morning (see what I’m like nowadays!), he is so clever & fascinating but also very relatable and easy to follow. He’s a big advocate of reflection or what he calls ‘time in’… he actually goes so far as to say “The willingness to look inward can significantly affect our physical health”.

Well hooray! Not only has sobriety saved my liver, but my new ‘naval gazing’ ways is also improving my physical health. And without a doubt my mental health as well.

I think now of the old, boozy me as being quite emotionally stunted..(having alcohol as my constant companion my whole adult life stopped me from developing any proper emotional management strategies)  whereas the new sober me is slowly morphing into a much more emotionally connected, self-aware and calmer person able to properly connect with others.

It’s fucking fantastic. Have I mentioned before how much I love being sober…?!

There are some great naval gazing recommendations in the ‘Managing Feelings’ page in the Sober Toolbox.. please feel free to add some more here – I know I have a lot of reading material right now but I’m always open to more suggestions! And I’m sure others will be interested to hear your recommendations as well…

Love, Mrs D xxx

  1. Freebe 9 years ago

    Currently reading ‘Full catastrophe living’. Hilarious title… but it’s actually pretty good. I’ve just started reading it to rekindle my interest in mindfulness. The author wrote the book 25 years ago and has just updated it and released a second edition. He has run mindfulness stress reduction programmes during that time, and they have been scientifically researched to benefit people in all sorts of ways. I do like a self-help book that gives me some reassurance that it has actually worked for people!

  2. Paula 9 years ago

    Naval Gazing Rocks! I love going ‘inside’ to think and learn. I’ve read self-help and inspirational books over the years too (and at the moment am finding ‘Unhooked: How to Quit Anything’ really useful and easy to engage with – big tick!). This mindfulness meditation technique for me is kind of the Naval Gazing Icing on the Cake and I think that’s because it’s a physical/mental practice that somehow embeds the stuff that I learn from books, life etc. My ‘anxiety therapist’ gave me an exercise a few years ago which was to practice each day for a week. That really shifted things for me in a hugely freeing and positive way.

    Here’s a really effective free meditation podcast from the University of California, where they have what they call a Mindful Awareness Research Centre. Each week they do a guided meditation and load it onto the podcast ( I find it really really helpful as the approach is one that isn’t airy-fairy and unobtainable… instead, it’s very straightforward and it seems very ‘grounded’ and there’s there’s no imagining anything or saying anything to yourself.
    I love the woman’s voice and accent too (that can make a huge difference in my experience of listening to guided meditations). Doing these meditations has certainly helped me with my own self awareness (and many other things like relaxation) and I recommend them.
    *NB – I’ve tried various other kinds of meditation practices in the past but that have always felt hard in a weird way, like I’m the one in the room that doesn’t get ‘it’. This is challenging in other ways (like learning new things often is) but has been very rewarding.

  3. AlexP 9 years ago

    Well, I must have a degree in naval gazing then!! I come from a family of bookaholics and I’m carrying on the tradition. There are books in EVERY room. Two have a ceiling to floor shelf full. I have a walk in wardrobe that has two big shelves of books. 95%non- fiction. All categorised into various interests ( cooking, gardening, walking, dogs, art/photography, self-help, health/fitness for starters!! So many interests ( and “issues” re: self- belief ) so little time but I’m determined that all my dreams will reemerge with my new sobriety.
    OH has 2 small shelves!!!!!
    I try to have a rule if “one in, two out” – not very successful, I’m afraid.
    Just bought Veronica Valli’s book and Brene Brown Daring Greatly. They’re my current bedside pile. Jason Vale was a constant companion in the weeks leading up to my DDay ( it has the post-it notes, and turned down corners to prove it)

    • Author
      Mrs D 9 years ago

      Wow @AlexP how amazing.. all that brain food.. cool…. I am reading Brene Brown’s Daring Greatly now.. I love how she’s so relatable yet so goddam well researched and clever… xx

  4. PJNT 9 years ago

    Hi Mrs D, the stuff I learned was all passed on orally, but I believe there are some good books out there about native North American spirituality for those interested.

  5. GeeA 9 years ago

    “Navel Gazing.” Or maybe “Navel Gazers Inc.” Possible titles for your next book, Mrs D? I think this post is excellent! A journey into the land of “becoming self-aware” it’s a good thing. With all our weaknesses and flaws – we are in fact – already perfect. Only most of us don’t know this yet. We don’t need to drink to become ‘better’ or ‘more acceptable’. We already are. By being sober and engaging fully we are being ‘real’ and living a ‘present’ life.’ However we arrive at that ‘sober, real and present’ state is up to us. One book that I read April/May 2013 set me firmly on this path of self-acceptance. Dr Dain Heer wrote the book.

    It’s for the serious ‘Navel Gazer’ that wants to find some clarity and way forward too. After reading this several events happened in my life. Like ‘tipsy-topsy’ one after the other. And here I am today…… meditating regularly even…..and saying ‘no thank you’ to alcohol….it’s all good for me.

    • Author
      Mrs D 9 years ago

      here you are @GeeA being amazing and brave and so lovely to other members… I absolutely love having you here, we are lucky xxx

  6. Anonymous 9 years ago

    kim here feeling very uncomfy I feel like my whole family is trying to help me but they don’t listen they havnt got a bloody clue

    • Paula 9 years ago

      Hi Kim. This is a great community to become a member of. Family aren’t always the easiest to engage with especially with sensitive or difficult things. You are doing a really good thing for yourself @Anonymous, registering here. I’ve found such encouragement and support through reading the member’s feeds and when I’ve posted my own comments. Like MrsD says, we know what it’s like!

    • Author
      Mrs D 9 years ago

      Hi Kim… I think many of our loved ones don’t have a bloody clue what we’re going through when we first start getting sober… and in fact if I didn’t blah on about it constantly and hadn’t written a book I’m not sure many of my family would STILL understand what a huge transition and what hard work it is for us to get sober. That’s why we need likeminded people who get it – people like all of us here at Living Sober!! So it’s great you’re because we understand fully.. we get it all 100%.. have you registered to become a member? You can give yourself an anonymous name but if you register you get access to the ‘Members Feed’ and that’s where all the amazingly kind, understanding, warm and supportive daily interactions go on. Go well Kim we are here for you and we know what it’s like xxxxx

  7. Alongtimeoverdue 9 years ago

    The pink DRINK book didn’t appeal to me in terms of its writing context (I prefer more narrative about recovery processes) but the topic is a critical one and I am sure will resonate with many readers.

    • Author
      Mrs D 9 years ago

      Yeah I have to admit I’ve had Anne D-J’s ‘Drink’ book beside my bed for months but haven’t got past chapter 1.. I could see that it was very well written and researched but like you I’m drawn in by a good narrative… I’ve got guilt about that book actually because I really feel it is one I ‘should’ have read but haven’t……. thanks @Alongtimeoverdue xxx

  8. PJNT 9 years ago

    Hi, I don’t have any books to recommend but when I spent some time studying Lakota spirituality I was taught that the inner journey isn’t taken for oneself, so much as to enable one to be the best one can be for the whole tribe (community). So us navel gazers really are a very altruistic bunch 🙂

    • Author
      Mrs D 9 years ago

      Oooh @PJNT Lakota spirituality is not something I have heard about at all…! If you have any specific links or books that you recommend please do share..! Otherwise I’ll do a google search sometime.. thanks heaps for the recommendation xxxx

  9. Rosieoutlook 9 years ago

    Hi Lotta, we are at Paraparaumu Beach. You will so will need a break away after the Election! Kapiti Coast is a wee hidden gem:) enjoy your weekend and having hubby home. Xx

    • Author
      Mrs D 9 years ago

      Yeah @rosieoutlook it will be great to have a bit of family time after the election.. we are all missing having Mr D around (although am very proud of the job he’s doing) xxxx

  10. Switchedon 9 years ago

    I always have at least one of those kinds of books by my bedside or on my kindle! I was a bit disappointed by Ruby Wax’s book Mrs D – thought it would be interesting as a couple of my family members were bipolar but it didn’t really do it for me for some reason. Although it was quite awhile ago now. Maybe I would think differently sober?
    Something members might enjoy in the naval gazing dept. is Leo Babauta’s blog Zen Habits. Has topics like living more simply, changing habits, mindfulness, he runs a sea change course you can subscribe to if you want, etc, etc. I like it because he writes very well about things he has tried/is trying himself. Latest one is A brief guide to overcoming instant gratification – ouch!!

    • Author
      Mrs D 9 years ago

      Hhhmmm interesting what you say about Ruby Wax @Switchedon .. I’m trying to like her but my jury is out right now.. her TED talk made me angsty because she was so clearly nervous! and I seem to have stopped reading her book about a quarter of the way through (have moved on to Brene Brown, am such a self-help slut!).. I have heard of Leo Babuta and follow him on twitter but maybe I should visit his blog more often.. thanks for the recommendation xxxx

  11. freebreezi 9 years ago

    Hi, my name is FreeBreezi and I am a naval gazer from way back.
    I love all the books and have a wonderful selection on the bookshelf and on the kindle. In times of need I have my favourite ones nearby me, even in my bag when I go out.
    Naval gazing is a good way to visit the inner self.
    Interesting it does have negative connation with the official meaning of it. I wonder though if that is more reflective of societies old ways of thinking and societies reluctance to acknowledge the importance of looking after self first and foremost.

    • Author
      Mrs D 9 years ago

      Hi @freebreezi (it’s like we’re at a ‘naval gazers anonymous’ meeting!! ) .. I agree that definition is pretty scornful and old-school.. we are the way of the future baby!!

  12. Schooseslife 9 years ago

    I have always had these kind of books on my bedside table. I have devoured them all over the years. They never seemed to make ANY difference UNTIL I removed alcohol from my life !!!! Now I love reading them as I can actually absorb the information and use the bits which help me in becoming more authentically me.

    • Author
      Mrs D 9 years ago

      Ha ha that’s interesting @Schooseslife that you were wanting to absorb this kind of material even when you were boozing… for me is been the removal of the booze from my life that has opened my mind to this sort of thing. I used to read only murder mysteries!! Now I can’t remember the last time I did that…. xxx

  13. Lucy 9 years ago

    reading self help books are essential for me, having very low self esteem from child hood hence the drinking to blot it all out. I’m a lot calmer and now think before I lose my temper and start spouting off.. that was usually wine and vodka fuelled. Can’t believe the change in me after 15 weeks of sobriety, the Lucy before was a drunk mess and a functioning alcoholic.. I will keep reading these books because I don’t ever want to drink again. xxxx ps roll on 1st October your book is out here then and already been to waterstones to order it. xxxxx

    • Author
      Mrs D 9 years ago

      Oh that’s so cool @Lucy !! You’ve just reminded me I must check with my publishers about when exactly my book is going to be available in stores in the US and UK… I love that you pre-ordered it from Waterstones..! Thanks!! Glad you are starting to really lift up and feel better about yourself.. getting sober will hopefully boost your self-esteem greatly.. you are worth the very best xxx

  14. Rosieoutlook 9 years ago

    Lotta, my bedside table looks like yours:) I keep ordering books from the library online and then before you know it, they have arrived from all over. Just ordered the book you have mentioned before Jason Vale and it’s fab. Love it, love it , love it! It’s come from the library in Buller and I’m in Kapiti. They really need a copy closer to home:). Nearly two months for me without wine and loving it! Xx

    • Author
      Mrs D 9 years ago

      Hooray @Rosieoutlook ! 2 months is a HUGE chunk of time.. you are well on the way to Peaceful Sobriety Island (or maybe you are already here already..?)… wonderful..

      Also BTW where are you on the Kapiti Coast? We are going to stay in a bach at Peka Peka after the election….

  15. Achilles 9 years ago

    “Navel gazing”, I must be showing my age because I thought what the heck has pierced belly buttons got to do with drinking (or not as the case maybe)
    Also @MorganfollowsMrsD kept referring in a comment to me &….please explain.
    Anyway I have found this site with on the spot comments so far work for me, answering my thoughts, fears, queries….so far anyway 🙂

    • Author
      Mrs D 9 years ago

      Hey @Achilles I always assume everyone knows what ‘naval gazing’ means…! According to the dictionary it means “self-indulgent or excessive contemplation of oneself or a single issue, at the expense of a wider view.” so there you go, officially it does have a ‘negative’ connotation..! But I now think of it as positive – extremely constructive and healthy introspection…! Not sure what you’re referring to with @MorganfollowsMrsD – her messages to you look very friendly.. or is it actually “&…..” written somewhere that you don’t understand…?

    • Achilles 9 years ago

      &amp……………was the comment what does this mean?

  16. k1W1 9 years ago

    I do it, even did a Life Coach course to learn and put into practice use, but as I tend towards rational thinking I sometimes feel my thinking gets tied in knots. But love TED talks and I do think I have far too many books.

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