When I was a kid in school, it was common for me to hear something like, “Bill, stop looking out the window and get to work!”, or “Bill, stop daydreaming and pay attention!”. I spent my first 10 years as the only kid on a farm full of adults, and early on developed the ability to disappear into my own world of fantasy — far more interesting than the humdrum reality of a failing farm, terminally ill father, and a bunch of worried adults.
Daydreaming and books facilitated certain of my addictions both then and later. Although I continued to enjoy fantasy as an escape from reality for many years, it wasn’t until I got into recovery — and later, into meditation — that I began to appreciate daydreaming for its own sake.
“Solutions are difficult to come by rationally. The reasoning mind is like a rudderless ship: It describes interesting patterns on the water, but it lacks a sure sense of direction. The rudder of inner guidance comes from super-conscious levels of awareness.” ~ J. Donald Walters (Swami Kriyananda)
As the Hon. Swami says, we need to access a level of consciousness other than “rational” thought in order to calm our minds and allow ourselves to integrate the various concepts that swirl around in our heads sometimes. The path to that is prayer and meditation (Step 11), and daydreaming is simply an unplanned meditative state. So, if you think that meditation is impossible for you, you’re wrong (unless you’ve never daydreamed). You’re probably already pretty good at it.
I was taught that the prayer in “sought through prayer and meditation” was to “program” me so that my meditation might lead to clarity about the subject of my prayers for “knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.” That works for me. After fixing the subject in my mind, I simply let my thoughts wander around it, consciously avoiding any direct, logical thought as much as possible. I’ve written about those techniques here.
More often than not, I find that this process helps to untangle in my mind whatever was troubling me. Sometimes it takes sleeping on it, and sometimes I don’t get the “light bulb” for a couple of days, but usually at least some of the head monsters who were dragging me around by my thoughts are silenced long enough for me to get some clarity.
All in all, daydreaming has served me well over the years. Surprisingly, it wasn’t just for escaping.