How to Enrich Your Life by Sitting Still and Daydreaming
Letting your mind wander might be the most productive five minutes of your day.
Posted Mar 07, 2019
Are you willing to test your daydreaming skills?
Schedule a meeting with a friend. Coffee, lunch, or an after-work drink. Your pick. Ease into this. Trust me; it’s going to be hard. Harder than you think.
First, arrange to arrive five minutes early for your meeting. Now, try sitting still while you wait. Really still. The kind of still where your mind is forced to wander or just to rest easy for a moment.
How hard can being alone and sitting still for five minutes be?
Very hard. Here’s the catch. You cannot grab your phone to check your messages. You can’t pull your laptop from your bag and boot it up. In fact, if your phone rings, you can’t answer it.
The point is to just sit there. Be still. Let your mind go. Look out the window. If you feel like it, you can smile at someone passing by. If someone you know walks by, do that thing with your head that says hello, but you don’t have time to talk... you’re thinking. Sitting still. Being alone for a couple of stolen moments in a world filled with demanding, brain-numbing connections.
Do not dig in your purse for anything, not even a stick of gum, or search for something to read.
Just sit there. Still. Really still.
Have you looked at your watch? I bet you have.
Do the five-minute trial a couple of times until you no longer feel antsy and ready to jump out of your skin at four minutes, because you haven’t checked your phone for messages or tapped on your weather app.
Here’s the next step. The real test. Try for 10 minutes.
The first time I did 10 minutes, at minute seven, in desperation, I reached into my purse, pulled out a scrap of paper, and started taking notes... for this article.
My goal is to be able to sit still for 15 minutes. Fifteen minutes waiting. Sitting. Thinking. Looking out the window. Hands like resting birds in my lap. No phone to grab my attention away from the moment. No scrap of paper hastily drawn from my purse like some lifesaver that might keep me from drowning in the unconnected silence of it all.
It’s a goal worth achieving. One I’m itching to take on.
Being able to sit still won’t necessarily make me a better person. But it might help quiet my mind. Might smooth the jagged edge of the chaos swirling in the world around me. Might make it possible for me to notice how tree roots seem to like resting half in and half out of the Earth, or how the clouds change shape as they slip across the sky.
Here’s why I’m doing this. I want to recapture what it used to feel like when there was no cell phone in my life. No email begging for my attention. When I wasn’t tethered so tightly to the world and, therefore, was able to have my own thoughts, my own ideas, not just a constant reflex reaction to everything happening in the world.
I’d like to get back there because I think I lost something along the connected highway we’re traveling together. I’d like to know what it feels like again to be still. To take a deep breath. To wait. Patiently.
I miss being patient. I miss what it feels like to anticipate. To wait. To let my mind be unfettered without an agenda or connected destination. I miss daydreaming.
Remember daydreaming? Those little escapes where your mind felt free? I got in trouble more than once in school for daydreaming. My teachers told my parents my mind wandered. That I didn’t always pay attention in class. That I was a dreamer.
I want to be a dreamer again.
It’s going to be hard, but I think it’s worth a try. I’m up to 10 minutes now. And anxiously anticipating the day when I can sit still for 15 whole minutes by myself and daydream.
Let me know how you do.