“Those who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only by night.” ― Edgar Allan Poe
Unfocus your eyes. Let your gaze soften into mush. Stop thinking so hard about daydreaming. Instead, declare it: “I am going to daydream right now.”
Your rational mind might start to nag. “But you don’t know how to daydream, you have nothing interesting to dream about, you’re bad at this…” Tell it to go away. Tell that cold, judgmental voice in your head to take a walk around the block for a few minutes. Right now we need some space to play without it.
Smile. Think of the happiest you’ve ever been. Think of your favorite game you played as a child. Think of a goofy moment you had with someone you love. Think with your heart, feel the colors swooshing out of your chest, let the forehead muscles relax.
Dream of celebrities you admire, and wonder why you admire them. Think about the qualities you ascribe to these famous people you’ve never met, ponder how absurd that is, and daydream of ways you could demonstrate those qualities in your own life. How could you be more bold, more vulnerable, more free-spirited within the next twelve hours?
Daydreaming is heart-based. Focus on the feelings and the imagery. If you start delving into woefulness, you are off track. Veer back on course. Change direction. How do you want to feel?
(Remember, your rational mind is on a walk right now. Don’t let it peek its head in the window, don’t listen to its commentary. It is speaking on one radio channel, and your stereo is tuned to a different channel, so you simply can’t hear it. Move on.)
Once, I rode on a water jet in Florida with my uncle, and he purposely took a sharp turn to fling me off the back end of the jet and into the water. Life in that moment was salty and sunny, and my laughs were big and hearty and fearless. I felt Alive. And now when I am in my cubicle, on the dirty train, in the throes of depression, I daydream about this memory to remember what it was like to feel so open-hearted and alive.
What would Alive look like for me in this moment? What would Alive feel like? What would I be if I was truly embodying Aliveness?
Gaze soft, mind turned off, heart engaged. Your imagination might be blurry at first, but these daydreams are tiny green sprouts fighting to birth themselves through the lifeless gravel that we accumulate in our days. Begin.
You can’t, you say? Are you staring at a canvas wall going “Daydream…. daydream… come on… think of something interesting…” and coming up with a flat line? Are you saddened because you wonder if this means you’ve lost your childlike sense of wonder?
Be bold enough to believe that by making the commitment to practicing daydreaming, no matter how awkwardly at first, you are shaking up the gunk and preparing yourself for more. Your intention to daydream at all will make you feel more playful, and that lightheartedness will linger around you. The more you pay attention to your own imagination and dreamy potential, the more you will notice daydreaming opportunities in your life.
Ask questions. Seek answers. The more you practice daydreaming, the more natural it becomes. Like writing. Like running. Like participating in healthy relationships. Practice, and the results will unfold – and they will be magnificent.
One day I passed an advertisement on a bus stop for a flower show, and I thought of the lilacs in my backyard as a child – the bushes that flowered out as walls to protect a clubhouse we made inside. I would smooth out the dirt floor of my playhouse over and over again with my little hands, back and forth and back and forth, until the natural grooves of the earth disappeared – until it was Perfect. I said I was vacuuming. I kept at it, back and forth and back and forth, until my hands started to and turn pink. Lilac dirtpile rugburn. OCD incarnate. Probably about nine years old.
All I had to do was see this billboard about flowers, and I catapulted back to my lilacs. I felt the same purple protection I did back then. I daydreamed of playing fairies and robots, of sequestering into our separate “rooms” divided by each bush. I daydreamed of the shaky and hollow peace that I felt when my floor was Perfect. I daydreamed of how grateful I am that I no longer need those types of rituals to feel safe.
And I skipped into the rest of my day, a spring in my step and a memory wisping in my heart. Daydreaming heals.
Love and Salty Lilac Breezes,
How do you kick start daydreaming? What role does dreaming play in your waking life? Share your wisdom in the comments section!