Stop daydreaming? Maybe instead it's time to start daydreaming

More often than I expect, I come across people who cannot settle down.  Who see downtime as a waste of time, daydreaming as some sort of personal weakness, and inaction as incapacity or a kind of overindulgence.

Certainly, there is a type of inaction that is borne of fear and lack of clarity.  It's a paralysis of not wanting to make a 'wrong' decision, or take responsibility.  But there is also purposeful inaction.  It is actually a conscious ACT to take yourself out of action for a time.

This, to me, is the purest form of 'recharging' yourself and of allowing your visioning juices to flow.  Giving yourself this time is a gift that will make any subsequent action that much more effective as it will come from a more calm and balanced state.

Resistance comes from a couple of sources.  For one, some children were resoundingly criticized and demeaned for daydreaming, and so to them to be in constant (visible) action equates safety.  If you're in this group, start gently with opportunities and times that are most comfortable to you to rediscover the peace of just choosing to 'be' for a time.

Another form of resistance comes for some folks who just can't be alone with their thoughts - they fear the space where they will need to face the demons.  If this is you, yes it will be uncomfortable to step into the quiet.  Ultimately, those demons will leave once they're acknowledged, rather than continuing to lurk in the shadows.  Start gently here as well, but in a way where you begin with a mental focus rather than just leaving the door open.

For most people, it's more a matter of not having considered the need, or found the time, to just daydream.  Consider this your permission to take that time for yourself.

Just start.  Even 5 minutes a day will have an effect. As you get used to it, increase your time to whatever you can manage. Find the stretch of time that gives you the greatest benefit - is it 10 minutes every day?  or 5 on weekdays but 30 on the days you don't have to work?

I find it helpful to start off with mindfulness.  Consider it a warm-up.  Begin by noticing your surroundings:

 

  • have your morning coffee or tea outside, weather-permitting, or by a window and just relax and watch
  • sit under a tree and focus on your senses - feel the warm or cool air on your skin.  See the colours and shapes of what is around you, hear the sounds, the birds, the wind. Smell any scents in the air.
  • if you're near the water, watch and listen to the waves on shore or the water's movement in a river
  • be a kid again, and lay in the grass looking up at the clouds
  • if sitting still is challenging for you (or you simply need more exercise!) take a walk while paying attention to your senses and the surroundings.

The next stage is to watch your thoughts: 

  • just acknowledge any thoughts that come up and let them go, like reading the news feed on TV - it comes and it goes
  • then slowly open up and allow your mind, your imagination, the freedom to drift

A couple of caveats:

  • When you are daydreaming, please ensure you are in a safe space.  Not while you're driving, please.
  • I mentioned earlier about purposeful inaction.  You need to be fully honest with yourself.  If this practice is taking the place of action, if you are coming up with ideas but not doing anything about them, if this becomes the next excuse for why you are not "ready" to take the next step, you have crossed the line into paralysis. Scale it back into balance.  For every 10 minutes you spend daydreaming about the possibilities, also spend 10 minutes taking action to fulfill those possibilities.

The benefits to this practice of allowing yourself time to notice and daydream can be great.  The potential for self-understanding, self-acceptance, and envisioning where you are now and where you can be is limitless.  Giving yourself time to recharge will ultimately give you a stronger place from which to make decisions, both mentally and physically.  This practice alone will reduce the stress responses within your body.  It will also allow you to tap into a more creative space that can lead to even greater possibilities for your life.