Originally published in Elephant Journal 3/1/14
Daydreams are easy to write off as simply wanderings of the mind during phases of boredom.
Sometimes daydreams escalate into larger dreams, adding excitement or urgency to the equation. But are these mental musings simply little life distractions? Or can they clue us in to something happening deeper, within the subconscious levels of the heart?
Everyone always talks about finding a balance in life. Managing the multiple roles we take on in an often fast-paced society creates a new skill set each generation has to develop in order to survive, or master if we want to thrive.
Being out of balance in certain areas is obvious (like when a bright red negative number shows up in our bank accounts, yeah that’s out of balance). Or when we push our bodies too hard, letting self-care lapse, causing us to be laid up for three days with a doctor’s note—out of balance.
But what about the more subtle ways we have to learn to ride the evolving scales? Paying attention to daydreams can be a window into the subconscious desires.
The body is a vehicle that not only houses our entire human experience, it functions as a means of communication deeper inside the mind, heart and soul. When things are in alignment for our current needs, things flow naturally.
When something is out of balance, our body finds a way to let us know, and one of those ways is to bubble up the desire from the core up to the mind in the form of a daydream.
The trick with assessing daydreams is to look for the essence of what desire the daydream embodies.
Note the level of urgency associated with it as well (urgency is a mild form of anxiety, usually implying it is born from fear, which often clouds our clarity when making decisions).
Let’s take a couple of common daydreams as examples.
1. Graduate School
An urgent ‘need’ to go to graduate school is one of the most common daydreams for people, and very telling. If you break it down to smaller forms, most of the time people are craving something else, and they believe higher education is the solution to getting the fix (new career, more money, better job satisfaction, better hours, new skills, etc.).
If a person follows the daydream down to the desire, we can usually figure out what it is we are truly craving (and often there are many other avenues to approach satisfying that desire besides going deep into debt). If someone is simply under-stimulated in their current position, they may consider talking to their boss about a sidestep, or taking on some new training.
If a person feels they want to help people more in a counselling capacity, there are other options to do so in a lighter version (like training to be a coach on the side) in order to satisfy that need.
2. Art School
This one makes me laugh, as it is one of my go-to’s. Whenever I am not letting my inner artist fly (via writing, visual arts, music, etc) I will start to daydream about going to art school (in one of those formats). Sometimes the craving is not only to create art, but to be better at different disciplines, and (much to my ego’s chagrin) be recognized for it.
Sometimes I think the structure will help me focus, or the professor’s feedback will keep me on track. All of these things are true and valid points. Then I step back and think about it logically (and look at my toddler, time constraints and financial limitations) and try to figure out another approach that wouldn’t be so rough on my family.
In reality, all I have to do is write more. Draw more. Sing more. The desire gets satisfied and goes away. The internet is a beautiful thing when it comes to wanting recognition and feedback.
And structure or not, practice makes perfect, and there is no other path to improvement than walking straight through (or hire a coach in the discipline – use that creativity to think of ‘out of the box’ approaches). Sometimes the desire is to simply make more of a mark in the world.
Must it be through fame, or could a deeper impact on fewer people do the trick? Regardless, beginning to look at daydreams through these lenses can tell a lot about what’s going on inside.
3. Wanting to Move/Travel Extensively
There is always a balance between knowing when to cut our losses and get out of town, and when to stick something out and face the fears. When to do which falls under the category of life lessons to master, but for now, we can settle for looking at it case by case.
When things get overwhelming, most of us have a flight mechanism in there to defend ourselves against too much adversity. It’s a natural thing, yet it can be detrimental if we are trying to power through something.
Daydreaming about moving or long term travel can be a coping mechanism to an extent, but often implies we just need a break from either the overwhelm and stressors of the current situation, or simply that we’re bored, understimulated and need some new energy in our world.
If either of those build up to excess, they can morph into a big daydream that involves uprooting an entire life (effecting many people besides ourselves).
When my son was a baby, I dreamt of travel regularly, longing to go back to the Amazon where I used to live, or to the magic of the Southwest United States. In reality, I just needed a break.
I was stressed and overloaded and hormonal, and wasn’t letting myself off the hook of how hard the first year for a new mama can be. Once I found that balance (took awhile) the urgent daydreams subsided, and I was able to relax into my new living situation a bit more comfortably.
Recognizing daydreams (especially urgent ones) as signs into deeper desires can help break them down into the essence of what the body is trying to tell us.
Before we up and drastically change our lives and blow our savings, we may want to make sure we are clear as to what it is we really need. Often it is not a hard thing to satisfy; yet we’d kept it on lockdown so long it had pent up and become extreme.
If we are constantly “living the daydream” yet not satisfying the underlying need, a new daydream will appear to replace it. Knowing what we need in our depths will allow us the freedom to choose what we do with our lives, rather than constantly running down a dream.
Opening the door to letting the breeze blow through and take care of ourselves and needs can be an organic process, if we allow it to be. Pay attention and see where these daydreams take us. If we’ve satisfied the inner needs and have clarity rather than urgency, maybe those daydreams will lead us to a new and exciting chapter in our lives.
We just want to make sure we are fully informed and know what part of our hearts and minds are guiding our decisions. These dreams will evolve as we do, and can create a magic and satisfaction in our lives in ways we could never imagine.
Dare to dream, just make sure we know what that dream really means.
~ Meghan Shannon Elder (@beyond_meghan)
Ayahuasca Preparation and Integration Specialist at Beyond the Ceremony
Accelerated Spiritual Development Coach at Beyond the Whirlwind
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