Tag Archives: daydreaming

Inspiration and time

While inspiration can strike as lightning, it also requires time. It doesn’t turn up in a mind that is overwhelmed. When you are relentlessly busy and have to pay attention to a lot of things, there’s often no space for inspiration to get in. If your world is too noisy, overstimulated, and relentless, there’s no time or space to notice the flashes of inspiration.

That in turn makes us vulnerable. Rather than having the chance to be excited about our own ideas, we’re sold other people’s ideas. Instead of having the opportunity to work out what we need and what would be good, we’re sold solutions. We’re told what to want.

Quietness, wool gathering and even boredom are necessary to make space for inspiration to get in. We need time to ourselves, and time to be with ourselves to have ideas. Without that space, our minds fill up with other people’s ideas instead, and those ideas are seldom kind, or neutral. What’s being fed to us is very much about making money for other people and keeping us in line as cogs in the capitalist machine.

Our daydreaming doesn’t make billionaires richer. 

Steal back whatever time you can. Make some quiet space. Look away from the screen and out of the window. Go on. I’ll stop writing now to make it easier for you.


The fantasy beach body

When ‘beach body’ gets mentioned, you can normally expect body shaming and very narrow definitions of beauty to follow. Ageism is likely as well. Rather than doing any of that, I want to subvert the idea of the beach body by inviting people to imagine their ideal beach form in much wilder terms. This isn’t a totally original thought – I saw something go by on social media a few weeks ago.

I posted this notion to facebook yesterday and the responses were glorious – lots of takers for going to the beach as a dog, or with a mermaid tail. Quite a few people wanting gills and sun proofing. I also really liked the suggestions of going as a bird – for ease of getting there as well as being well suited to paddling if you go for a wader.

I’m not sure about gills for myself – in part because I fancy the idea of a long trunk, and being able to stand under the water and raise my trunk like a periscope, and just be there. Apparently I want to be some kind of costal elephant, with a hide tough enough to deal with both sun and sand.

I think properly foolish daydreaming is a good and necessary thing. I’m very much in favour of letting the mind wander around sweet and whimsical notions, and playing with possibilities. There’s a way of gently stretching my creative muscles, and playing and making room for ideas to come in. I am unlikely to achieve any dramatic revelations by imagining my ideal beach identity, but there is charm in it. If you want to speculate wildly in the comments, please do!


Daydreaming

So many self-help, spiritual and magical practices tell us to focus on our intentions to get what we want. Will your desires into the world. Positive think your way into manifesting what you want. But how do you know what you want? Willpower with no real direction can’t give you much. At the same time, those sources will also encourage you to be mindful and live in the moment, not worrying about the future or regretting the past.

For me, daydreaming has been a deliberate process for most of my life. I imagine things, and I play with them, trying out the variables, looking from different angles, considering possible trajectories. Most of my fiction emerges from this deliberate daydreaming.

By revisiting the past and examining regrets, and thinking about how things might have been different, I develop a better understanding of myself. I learn lessons that I can apply in the future. I daydream a lot about the future, and this allows me to figure out what my priorities are. It helps me see how to move towards the things I want, and how to avoid old patterns I want to change. It can help me identify faulty thinking in the present. Daydreaming about how things could be helps me identify things right now that don’t suit me and need to change.

My daydreaming is unstructured. I don’t approach it with discipline or with allotted time frames. I drift there when I need to. It doesn’t separate me from where I am, either. I can daydream while walking and still see a great deal of wildlife and feel very engaged. I think this is in part because I know when I’m doing it. I don’t wander off in some kind of trance, I trance very deliberately from where and when I am.

Our fantasies and desires are a big part of us, and often have the steering wheel as we navigate life’s journey. If we hide them away so they only happen unconsciously, we don’t always know what’s driving us. If we make room for them, we learn. Some of those desires aren’t the most noble, some may be toxic to us. They may hold us to ridiculous standards or damagingly unrealistic expectations. They may undermine our joy in what we have now, if we let them.

A healthy relationship with our desires, where those desires are allowed space and can be explored, stops them from being unconscious motivators. That makes space for better choices. It is better to know and acknowledge our most unappealing inclinations. It pays to look at where those urges would take us and whether we want to go there. It can be cathartic, too, mentally playing out the jealousy, anger, resentment – it can help let it go, without letting it interfere in life in other ways. If I let myself see me wanting to be horrible, I can deal with it. Sometimes it’s best to treat your unconscious a bit like a toddler – just because it’s quiet doesn’t mean everything is fine. Leave it unsupervised and it may try to glue the cat to the inside of the washing machine…

 


Daydreaming as a spiritual practice

Daydreaming tends to get a bad press, as a trivial, time wasting lazy sort of activity. ‘Daydreaming’ is what you’ll be accused of if you didn’t get the useful thing done fast enough. Indulgent, castle in the cloud building, of no use… this is something I want to challenge. I want to recast daydreaming as a profound, spiritual, life enhancing activity.

How do you know what you want from life, who you want to be, how you want to live? If life and mental activity are focused on being busy and useful, there’s simply no room for these questions. You do what you always do, what you are told to do. The daydreamer has room to imagine other lives and outcomes, to build imaginary castles and people them with possibilities. If we are going to do something, we need to dream it first, testing out the implications, picturing the challenges and building the idea that we could.

Daydreaming allows us to develop and hone empathy. Once you start wondering what would happen and how other people would react, you are in the business of empathising. To see how your fairy tale schemes might play out, be they ever so farfetched, you end up thinking about what other people might think or feel in response. Perhaps you find space to wonder how other people, and non-human people live and feel, what the world looks like from their perspective. Even if you are totally wrong in your surmises, just considering that other beings see the world differently opens you out. You cease to be trapped in your own narrow perspective in the same way.

When do we have time for ideas? When can we be inspired, put together new thoughts, have Eureka moments? The daydreaming mind is open, experimental, playful, pondering. New things can arise from it. It’s not always the most serious, grounded, reasonable thoughts that go on to change the world. Wild, outrageous thinking is needed the challenge the status quo, and overturn systems of government. You don’t cast off slavery without first thinking radically. You don’t travel to the stars if you haven’t first dreamed of reaching them. An idea only seems ridiculous if no one has dared to dream it properly.

When might spirit or deity try to talk to us? When we are closed and focused down on being busy with a thing, or when our minds are open and free ranging?

If you’re properly daydreaming, you aren’t consuming. You aren’t using resources or being a useful little unit of production. You aren’t hurting anyone. You aren’t bored. Even if the daydreams themselves are of no use to you or anyone else, you are exploring your creativity. For the person bent on utility, it’s worth noting that the creative ‘muscle’ generated by daydreaming is there for more deliberate problem solving and inspiration seeking as well.

From the smallest dreams of a better life to the most spectacular and complex alternative realities, we are richer for our dreams, and for our daydreaming.


Daydreaming and meditation

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.