August 2014
Vol 7, Issue 8            
Creative Coaching Group
 the Creative Coaching Group newsletter

Dear ,

photo credit:Jan Carley

To be or not to be?  What better time for contemplative thought than while paddling at sunset in a red cedarstrip canoe in Ontario cottage country?  


This month's issue is devoted to 'being' and the benefits of   giving yourself the gift of even 15 minutes a day for a 'creative brain break'.    


Watch for exciting news in next month's ezine of the return of my popular Harmony from the Inside Out Tele-Boot Camp this fall!  


Until then,  






Jan Carley BA, CEC, PCC  

Professional Certified Executive Coach   

 Creative Coaching Group 

Feature Article:  Navel Gazing is Good for You! 
Navel Gazing at the Louvre
Navel Gazing at the Louvre

Although contemplation of one's navel has gotten a bad rap as it usually refers to indulging in a self-absorbed ego-based activity, it might be just the thing you need to do to open up creative thought.   Originating from the Greek word omphaloskepsis, which combines omphalos

(navel) with skepsis (act of looking, examination), omphaloskepsis means contemplation of one's navel as an aid to meditation. Yes, an aid to meditation. The practice of navel gazing to contemplate life is found in Hinduism and other faiths, with the navel being a powerful chakra or energy centre of the body.  

Although she wasn't gazing at her navel, author JK Rowling was said to have gotten the original inspiration for her Harry Potter series when she was gazing out of the window of a train. Other famous inventors and creators have talked about suddenly getting an idea or a solution to a problem while seemingly thinking about nothing in their morning shower or perhaps while driving or walking in nature.  


The mental space created during "unstructured time" allows the opening up of creative thought. Our working brain (the prefrontal cortex) can simply 'be' and the space that is created allows all sorts of other thoughts to pop in. Neale Donald Walsch, author of Conversations with God, reminds us that "we are human beings, not human doings."

Your 'being' time is as important as your 'doing' time. 

Our 21st century busyness and barrage of constant stimuli make it more challenging to find a way to escape the reactionary cycle of  doing to allow time for contemplative thought.The almost total extinction of space for thinking without interruption is rare in our plugged in digital era. Our productivity appears to be measured by how busy we are - how many emails we get, how many text messages. Author Robert Holden calls this "competitive busyness". The stuff that keeps us so busy gets in the way of our most creative thinking.


When you're rushing to a solution, your mind will jump to the easiest and most traveled of your neural pathways. But when you allow yourself to engage in a 'mindless' activity, where your mind is free to wander, your brain will start working in a more creative way and often come upon solutions or ideas that your 'busier' mind doesn't focus on. It will grasp ideas from unexpected places. It's no surprise that an instant solution for the very problem that kept you sleepless pops into your head while having your morning shower.  


The Creative Brain Break: 15 minutes of Navel Gazing Daily


Start with adding 15 minutes of contemplative thought daily - anywhere, any time. No structure, no agenda, no intention. Don't pressure yourself to think of any particular thing during those 15 minutes. The mental effect will be like a giant eraser scrubbed your pre-frontal cortex, allowing room for other creative thoughts to bubble up.



Keep this simple! Don't fall into the trap of adding another "activity" to your already over-crowded schedule in order to achieve your mental 'being' state. My high-achieving client Molly was super successful at getting everything on her "To Do" list done except the piece that had to do with giving herself some mental space. She enrolled in tai chi programs, and joined meditation groups but nothing seemed to stick. As I coached her, she realized that her "being" time had become another "activity" that she was pressured to find time for in her hectic schedule. She had established so many structures on what that 'being' time had to look like, that she had made it unwieldy for her to undertake on a regular basis. The concept of simply spending 10-15 minutes in contemplative thought daily was a life-changer for Molly.  


Five Easy ways to incorporate some contemplative moments:

  • add 10 minutes to your morning shower and allow your mind to wander as you feel the water cascade over you
  • turn off the music or radio in the car and drive in silence
  • leave your phone on your desk and sit or walk outside in the park for 15 min at lunch.  listen to the birds or focus on the sounds of the city
  • Sit at your desk (hold your calls) and clear your mind by short meditative moments where you place your focus on only one thing (either your breathing, or perhaps the recitation of a Mantra - an energy phrase)
  • unplug anytime, anywhere and stare out the window or into space

Or, you can always just simply breathe deeply and gaze at your navel. You'll be amazed at what pops into your head in those few 'being' moments of omphaloskepsis!  

Lightbulb of the Month

blue lightbulb


About Jan Carley  

Jan Carley square Jan Carley is a Professional Certified Executive Coach credentialed with the International Coach Federation. Known as a high-performance catalyst, Jan specializes in coaching individuals and teams to focus and clarify their vision and leverage their signature strengths to maximize their performance potential. Jan is Associate Faculty of the renowned Royal Roads University Executive Coaching Program and a certified facilitator of the Strength Deployment Inventory TM. 

3rd edition of Jan's book  

Jan's popular book, Harmony from the Inside Out, has been acclaimed worldwide and this 3rd edition includes a bonus 50-page Action Guide download. Purchase the book online at


Jan lives in Vancouver, BC, Canada, and is available for individual & team coaching, workshops and speaking engagements worldwide.  PCC logo

Contact Jan at 604 873-1763 



Quick Links
Jan' Coaching Company Creative Coaching Group
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