The Importance of Daydreaming

peachesAwhile back I wrote a column titled Getting Our Gaze Back that focused on how it important it is for the human brain to rest and recreate itself by staring blankly out the window or daydreaming. In part:

I’ve noticed about myself recently that I stare out the window and daydream when I’m desperate. The unrelenting beam of information aimed at me via the computer screen too often occupies my eyes. My gaze is clouded with data bits. The mind silts up with details, images, pleas for help, advertisements, and thousands of worthy campaigns for social change. “Life shouldn’t be this hard,” I think.

Eventually, nothing can float freely in the stream of my consciousness; everything is stuck. After some time staring at my mind-mud, I turn to the window. A psychological switch is thrown. I watch butterflies and wonder about color variations on peaches.

brainubcNow, the Big Brain Scientists at the University of British Columbia are finding out the same thing, according to Science Daily.

“Mind wandering is typically associated with negative things like laziness or inattentiveness,” says lead author, Prof. Kalina Christoff, UBC Dept. of Psychology. “But this study shows our brains are very active when we daydream – much more active than when we focus on routine tasks.”

The findings suggest that daydreaming – which can occupy as much as one third of our waking lives – is an important cognitive state where we may unconsciously turn our attention from immediate tasks to sort through important problems in our lives.

“When you daydream, you may not be achieving your immediate goal – say reading a book or paying attention in class – but your mind may be taking that time to address more important questions in your life, such as advancing your career or personal relationships,” says Christoff.

Read the whole report here.

I love it when neuroscience finally catches up with the 4000-plus-year-old discipline called Sabbath. It’s what makes us human.

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