“I try to maintin a healthy dose of daydreaming to remain sane.”
- Florence Welch
I described the visual meditation technique I used when I wrote about my emergency room visit in South Korea for a kidney infection.
I imagine I’m elsewhere; the Silverlake Reservoir in Los Angeles to be exact. I picture the sway of the trees, the ripples in the water as the wind crosses over it, and the sandy path that my shoes beat down on.
Call it what you want, but it really is just daydreaming masked as meditation. I’m imagining being somewhere else so vividly that it feels like I’m actually there; to evoke other emotions my current circumstances can’t.
As kids, daydreaming was condemned. Our attention floating off into another world resulted in a firm scolding for our teachers. “Get your head out of the clouds!” If we couldn’t pay attention, we were acting wrong.
But is daydreaming actually wrong? Is dreaming up ideas that don’t yet exist or imagining a different future for ourselves something to frown upon?
I’m here to argue that the notion of daydreaming as being for the weakminded is actually far from the case. I believe daydreaming is where our magic lies; it produces thoughts and ideas that our consciousness just can’t muster up in our daily routines.
Don’t agree just yet though? Let’s take a look at history.
We’ll start with Edison — one of the greatest minds in recorded history. It would be hard to find a person who would argue that Edison lacks structure or persistence.
Yet he credits some of his greatest ideas to daydreaming. Edison often explained that he would sit in a chair, grasping a metal ball. Below his hand laid a metal tray. He allowed himself to doze off and when the grip on his hand loosened and the ball crashed down on the metal plate, he would spring awake. Edison would quickly write down what he thought of during that moment right before he fell asleep.
The state that Edison is taking advantage of is called Hypnagogia. It is the moment between wakefulness and sleep where we are drowsy yet still thinking. If you can get yourself into this state, it’s a chance for you to observe your subconscious mind consciously.
Salvadore Dali employed this technique to create his surrealist masterpieces. Frankenstein was imagined by Mary Shelley while her mind wandered.
So to say that daydreaming is not useful is absurd — but then again, to condemn anything, our bodies are naturally able to do also seems a bit ridiculous.
But this mode of tapping into our subconscious isn’t novel, it’s merely employing a natural state that we are all able to enjoy.
And as a creative, it’s imperative to let your mind wander.
Life can quickly become mundane and repetitive. Seeking inspiration when your day is almost routine is not where your magic lies.
And though you may have great ideas waiting just beneath the surface, it can be hard to tap into these when we’re distracted by responsibilities and other obligations.
Allowing ourselves time to daydream opens the door to our imagination. A part of us that we may only get a glimpse of when we’re sound asleep.
You can think of daydreaming as a tool; a way to unearth ideas and still be conscious enough to write them down. Your mind is not distracted; instead, you are allowing yourself to be in a state where your best ideas can form.
Personally, I do my best daydreaming when I go for walks. I’m at least a bit distracted by the act of walking; not wanting to get hit by a car is the biggest one. Unlike sitting and attempting to muster up ideas, my body is at least physically moving.
Then I just allow my mind to wander. Whatever pops into my brain is worth considering, in my opinion.
I keep my notepad app opened on my phone in case an idea worth pursuing comes up. But aside from that, I just let the magic happen.
Daydreaming is a beautiful state that our minds are capable of going to. Some of the most important ideas in history came from this specific state.
So let’s stop condemning daydreaming. Instead, let’s use it to our advantage and finally unleash our true creativity.