With thanks to Rachel Patterson, who caused me to sit down and think properly about what I’ve taken to doing over the least year or so.
Daydreaming is a very specific skill, and an essential one for any kind of creative work. To daydream well is to be able to open the mind to loose associations and possibilities, while crafting enough coherence around that to come up with something usable. It is the fine art of ‘what if’ and it can be used as much to figure out where we are emotionally, what we want to be doing and other life issues as well as being the jumping off point for art.
I’ve been meditating for a long time, such that I drop into contemplative states of mind readily. While I use very deliberate meditation practices sometimes, they have limited appeal to me because I know what I’m going to get. While deliberately calming the mind is useful, I get bored easily and am also more interested in trying to open up my options, rather than narrowing them down.
What I’ve been doing for the last year or so, is sitting out – how long depending on weather and what my body can tolerate, usually. Sometimes there’s a view, sometimes I’m just working with the shorn grass outside the flat – and both are equally workable. I take time to settling myself, to slow my breathing and be aware of my body. I focus on being aware of the place I’m in, and then I ask of the place, or of the awen, or perhaps something else, to share with me. I sit and wait, not trying to focus or control my thoughts thereafter, seeing what comes up.
Where this takes me, varies. Sometimes it results in insight into my emotional state, some making sense of my life as those loose and free flowing associations bring something up or clarify something. More often, by being very present I witness something that is happening and as my daydreaming mind has space to play with those experiences, some kind of wider insight emerges.
Over the weekend I sat with a stream, and became aware of how light and water combine in an incredibly generous and forgiving way, turning building detritus into little sparkling gems at the bottom of a stream. I saw that currents within the main flow of water are only visible when something is caught up in them, and that life is most evident when you notice it moving against the flow. Deliberateness, and self determination being important to me. I sat on the hill and saw the ancient sea bed that made the limestone and held some tenuous awareness of time, of how brief and irrelevant humans really are, and this thought consoled me. I saw that for the bird or the fox, what we build has no meaning as a human construction, it is just potential resource, habitat and challenge, while for the ant in the grass we do not exist at all. This also comforted me.
To adapt to human environments does not make a good or a bad fox. There is only the fox, doing what it can with what it has, and I take something from this about my own relationships with wild and urban spaces. There may be no inherent virtue or failure in how I relate to either.
For me, inspiration (awen) is at the heart of my Druidry, and much of what I do involves seeking it, and working with it. Using meditation to hold a space in which my daydreaming can be inspired, and can allow me insights and respite, has become really important to me over the last year. I hadn’t really thought about what I was doing, but a recent comment from Rachel Patterson about the relationship between daydreaming and meditating caused me to sit down and really think about this, and recognise that for me, there are some important relationships between daydreaming, meditating and inspiration.