In Reply to: Navel gazing posted by Rinky on February 08, 2010 at 19:31:
: What's the origin of the term "Navel gazing"? Has its meaning morphed over the years?
Perhaps the literal meaning somewhere is practiced in some form of meditation. But the extended or figurative meaning is virtually always the one intended. The Oxford English Dictionary covers the subject more than adquately, I think.
From the OED, s.v. navel:
navel-gazing n. = navel-contemplation n. [Citations from the 1950s' forward.]
navel-contemplation n. meditation or contemplation, esp. of a self-absorbed, complacent, or profitless kind (cf. sense 1b). [Citations from 1921 forward.]
[Sense 1b.] b. to contemplate (also regard) one's navel: to engage in (freq. profitless) meditation or contemplation; to spend time complacently considering oneself or one's own interests at the expense of a wider view. Cf. navel-contemplation ...[Citations from 1854 forward.]
navel-contemplator n. = omphalopsychite n. at 1. OMPHALO- comb. form ; (also more widely) a person who indulges in navel-contemplation.
1856 R. A. VAUGHAN Hours with Mystics I. VI. vii. 300 They call these devotees *Navel-contemplators. 1986 Financial Times (Nexis) 11 Apr. I. 19 We are in Los Angeles where the sun shines, the night life sparkles, and navel-contemplators of the world unite.