In our busy-doing-stressing society there is much recognition and focus given to achievement, productivity and 'getting things done'. And stillness .. the quiet, reflective, non-doing, is often overlooked or cast aside with a touch of negativity.
Over time we have seemingly lost the art of daydreaming .. the simple activity of being still and allowing the mind to journey unbridled .. to fantasize, make believe, sift through lost memories, contemplate 'what if' scenarios, and play around in make-believe .
Daydreaming however has been found to be critical to the healthy working of the human mind, as it has the ability to bring us insight, wisdom and a wealth of creativity. In the world of science, art, film and literature, daydreaming is often found to be the m
agical elixir of genius.
When daydreaming we are allowing the brain to expand across time and space, allowing us to make exciting new associations and connections - a crucial tool for creativity and innovative thinking.
When we daydream we also close off the noisy and distracting outside world as the brain shifts to contemplating its internal landscape .. which is where connections are often made between seemingly unrelated concepts and pieces of information.
And when we daydream pleasant dreams, research shows that we begin to
breathe with pleasure -
which affects our body chemistry (within seconds) .. lowering blood pressure, stabilizing heart-rate and reducing the flood of stress hormones in the body.
Daydreaming is not meditation .. but it feels good!
The difference between meditating and daydreaming is that when we daydream we allow the mind to float along on its own journey, moving and 'thinking' wherever it might like to go ~ whereas in meditation we focus on an 'anchor' and this allows our thoughts to soften into the background, so that we can rest in spacious stillness.
Like meditation, daydreaming also allows our mind to take a break .. a mini-vacation in which we can let go of tension, find a sense of calmness and balance, and later return to our daily tasks refreshed and invigorated.
We can bring a more meditative flavor to our daydreaming by maintaining enough awareness to observe the fact that 'we are daydreaming', and to notice the journey and any creative insights made ~ instead of just drifting off (which is the easy part).
In meditation we maintain a detailed interest and awareness of what the body and mind are doing in the present moment .. being present to the immediate experience of daydreaming, and observing without judgement what is happening, can bring a meditation element to our reverie.
This week take the opportunity to indulge in some deep daydreaming time .. and be really interested in the journey!
Allow your mind to wander and imagine and ponder magical pathways .. giving free reign to your imagination. Take yourself on an imaginary walk through nature, picture lying on an exotic beach with swaying palm trees, or resting in the arms of someone you love. Creating a meaningful connection with something imagined allows our body and mind to relax .. even if it is only for a few precious moments.
Relaxation is a gateway to meditation. Relaxation techniques, like daydreaming, may not be meditation .. but alongside a regular meditation practice, both are supportive and worthwhile tools for managing stress and sustaining us through an overly busy and noisy life.