Words Zahra K.
Header Credits Fatema A. (@cosmicweavers)
Daydreaming vs. Nightdreaming
Dream, until they come true!
Daydreaming for me is not only a process of the creative visualisation of my aspirations, but often a portkey to a world that’s better than my own. It is a conscious entry into a mystical world that I can tailor according to my own desires, as opposed to dreams that occur in sleep, which are often out of control, bizarre, plain foolish, and at times reflective of my inner demons.
At a very young age, I discovered that imagining scenarios about the things that made me happy gave me a lot of comfort and hope. It’s a fountain gushing and spilling strange new thoughts into the stream of consciousness. If you are anything like me that’ll make perfect sense to you. It’s our little secret, a private world that nobody knows about.
Over the years I often found myself in sensational episodes of daydreaming. At first, I tried to rein it in; but these daydreams turned out to be surprisingly useful, some of which manifested into reality. Incidents that I can herald as truly landmark moments of my life! So, now I believe there’s magic behind the magic. It is all about harnessing the power of daydreaming without which we lose both time and opportunities.
In today’s world, daydreaming has been drowned out by technology. We are a digitally immersed generation with our lives and our thought processes being constantly interrupted. This gives us many reasons for cutting off and being with ourselves. The gravitational pull of these screens steals time away from reflecting and zoning out.
So, let’s talk a little about the science behind it. Daydreaming is this peculiar in-between state of staying awake and sleeping, where our thoughts are lucid. Neuroscientist Marcus Raichle recognised something in the brain that he calls “the default mode network.” This is the mode where our minds start to drift away and the point where our ideas and thoughts start to dance, and we merely observe what’s happening. This so-called “default mode network” increases in activity while we are daydreaming. Despite its name, the default mode network is never actually on default, but rather active, giving way to a flood of ideas and thoughts. It consists, in part, of the brain being involved in sensory activity and experiences, and that’s why when we daydream it can evoke emotion and make us laugh. The default mode network is found to be bigger in people who fantasise more. Creative thinkers have more gray matter, giving way to a vivid exchange of information and sparking of ideas.
Daydreamers have shaped our world for the better. They allow information and knowledge to run freely through their minds, and then connect it in a way they hadn’t considered before. Daydreaming is actually a strong indicator of a well-equipped brain, better working memory, higher levels of creativity, and more effective problem solving.
Einstein is believed to have begun his theory of relativity while he daydreamed about running alongside a beam of light to the edge of the universe. Newton began his theory of gravity while he relaxed in his mother’s garden and saw an apple fall from the tree. And Greek philosopher Archimedes discovered the relationship between the rising water levels and the volume of his body in the submersion of water while he took a bath.
Without these daydreamers we may never have had some of these discoveries. So what’s the problem? The only, and probably the biggest downside, is that we, the daydreamers, are eternal procrastinators. Daydreaming is like your little child, begging to play. And although we like playtime it means we find it hard to get things done. We’re also using all of our energy to focus on our thoughts rather than what’s going on around us.
As I mentioned earlier, the magic is in being able to harness the power of daydreaming. I remember listening to John Cleese talking about his approach to creative writing when he wrote the famous Monty Python. He’d go for long walks and allow himself to day dream. He would then write as freely and creatively as he liked. Not until late afternoon did he switch on his analytical mind, reviewing what he had written and editing it. I believe we can learn from John Cleese.
I know when I can’t immediately find the solution to something, a walk, meditation or breathing session, staring at the clouds can somehow clear my head. The more I chase a thought, an idea, a solution, the further it hides in my mind. The more I allow my brain to run freely, the easier it is for me to find a solution. Ideas are in flights all around our minds, just waiting for clearance to land.
Even though I allow my mind to wander freely, I am aware that unless I harness the power of my daydreams, they’ll just steal away precious time. Therefore, I practice capturing each crazy thought, funny anecdote, or potential world-changing idea in a notebook I always have handy. Then whenever my analytical mind is in gear, I assess the validity of my ideas. Once I am happy, I shout them off the rooftops to my work colleagues, family, and friends – to allow my novel curiosity to take flight. Turning Pages, my passion project which is a library for children, is the product of this meticulous daydreaming.
Incidentally, when we imagine what we want using the power of visualization, it brings about emotions that are significant channels of energy, transmitted like radio frequency. And when we feel excited, inspired and satisfied, we actively attract what it is we want to achieve. In the end, I can say that I’ve learned to cherish my daydreams. I recognise them as powerful means of manifesting my heart’s deepest desires, and so I allow them to be my guide, to unlock creativity and healthy madness.