Daydreaming makes us feel guilty and unproductive. Constant focus and productivity are the norm. But that exhausts our minds. Research shows that some forms of daydreaming can be a very good idea. When we let our minds wander, we feel freer. Positive constructive daydreaming (PCD) is a form of guided daydreaming where you let your mind wander on a leash. I would like to introduce my own form of daydreaming: nostalgic guided daydreaming. Want to know more? Keep reading!
Remember when you were a kid and you would stare out of the window and let your mind wander? Fantasizing about all sorts of things. Places you would go or things you would do. You were dreaming with your eyes open. Daydreaming. Your thinking was without barriers and the possibilities were limitless. It is a shame that most of us lose that skill when we grow older. I guess adults are not allowed to daydream.
Daydreaming has a bad reputation. When you daydream now you probably feel guilty, irresponsible and unproductive. It is something for the lazy, weak and distracted. Constant focus and hard work is the only thing that matters, right?
Of course focus is a valuable tool. It is the very subject of this blog! But the trouble is that constant focus and hard work wears us out. It kills our creativity and even our productivity. Causing a lot of people to suffer from burnout symptoms these days.
Research shows that some forms of daydreaming can be a good idea. Strategic daydreaming can even help you to solve problems and focus when you need to.
Positive constructive daydreaming
So, what is the right way to daydream? Dr. Srini Pillay is a professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. He calls the optimal form of daydreaming: positive constructive daydreaming (PCD). It is a form of guided daydreaming where you let your mind wander on a leash.
When our minds wander like that, we feel freer. The trouble is that freedom may seem appealing but it also causes anxiety. Dr. Pillay talks about a 4 step system for PCD.
1. Start by planning
You need to plan your daydream. Set aside time to daydream and find a quiet place where you will not be disturbed.
2. Turn your attention inward
Close the door for all external stimuli and close your eyes.
3. Do something low-key
Do something that does not take up too much attention. Try knitting, gardening, coloring or doodling while you daydream.
4. Overcome the vomit response
We tend to hate our own creativity. Don’t judge your creative thoughts and let them flow freely.
Nostalgic guided daydreaming
I discovered that, without even knowing, I have been practicing a form of PCD for a while now. In my daily meditation sessions I sometimes use a form of guided meditation where I go back to places I was in the past. I picture myself walking there and let my mind ‘wander on a leash’ too.
That is why I want to claim my own form of daydreaming! Let’s call it ‘nostalgic guided daydreaming’. I’ll write a book about it and be famous like Dr. Pillay. Or am I just daydreaming now?
Anyway….one of my favorite guided daydreams is a place in the South of France we used to visit when I was a kid: Saint Tropez. A beautiful seaside fishing village I have visited many times in real life. In my mind I go back there and walk the streets and alleys again. I visualize the water, boats, shops, people and restaurants. Sometimes I can even smell the salty seawater and the petrol smell of the small boat engines again. I feel the white sand of the beaches on my bare feet, hear the seagulls and see the clear blue sky.
Even though this daydream gives me rest and relaxation, it is not a daydream that lets my mind wander and boosts my creativity. It is a safe daydream that nourishes my nostalgic muscle. Which gives me that well known fuzzy, safe and warm feeling. When I open my eyes again after this vacation in my mind I feel rested and refreshed. Help me to make my daydream a reality and start nostalgic guided daydreaming too!