“Not all those who wander are lost.” J.R.R. Tolkien
The modern world is a hectic one. Between school, sports, dance, music lessons, karate class, and other extra-curricular activities that fill our children’s days, there is precious little time for them to be alone with their thoughts. To be alone with one’s thoughts is to let the mind wander…to imagine. When the brain is free of distractions thoughts become reflective, and unexpected connections are made that expand consciousness.
Daydreaming enables us to revisit our memories. Allowing time to process these intricate emotions leads to deeper understanding of ourselves and others. When children are given the time to ponder they begin to take leaps from what they know to what they don’t know. Often, these original ideas are sweet, innocent, or funny…but they are, unmistakably, inventive, and show the developing mind at work.
When a child daydreams, no one can intrude on his fanciful imaginings. He is free to explore, to make unique, whimsical associations that are the seeds of creative thinking. We live in a culture that values productivity, but, ironically, frowns upon the very dreamers who are the gateways to inspiration and invention. Einstein said, “The intuitive mind is a sacred gift; the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.”
It is not only composers or poets who benefit from daydreaming, but scientists, mathematicians, and engineers as well. MRI research has revealed that, during a daydream, areas in the brain associated with complex problem solving are activated. Scientists now believe that daydreaming is as important as the dreaming we do at night – a time when the brain works hard to coalesce and consolidate learning. Neuroscientist and human development psychologist, Mary Helen Immordino-Yang, in an article in the journal Perspectives on Psychological Science, states that daydreaming is vital to learning, ultimately strengthening cognitive abilities such as reading comprehension:
Daydreams can reveal truths that are not visible in the too bright light of everyday activities. Like a candle, or a star, they can help to lead us in the right direction. Let daydreams inspire your children. In a world that shouts for their attention, encourage and respect these quiet, thoughtful moments. Let’s teach our children to value the beauty of silence and their own fantastical inner worlds.