Are you spending more time daydreaming? Perhaps a better word is pondering or reflecting.
Part of my every morning is spent with some tea and quiet meditation. Then, in the late afternoon, I love to crash on my chaise lounge in the garden and just look at the trees and clouds, and let my mind wander. It feels restful and natural and healthy.
Many of us are busier than we’ve ever been (How did we ever work full time?), and it’s nice to pause, rest and regroup. The ebb and flow feels right. Those of us who grew up in the 1940s, ’50s and ’60s were taught the work ethic to always be busy, never be idle, have goals, always be moving toward something. “Idle time is wasted time.”
A friend of mine just wants to sit for long periods and pet her cat; she feels terribly guilty about this, as her old voices tell her she should be busy, should be accomplishing something.
The science says that mindful reflection is essential to our ability to make meaning of the world around us, and it contributes to the development of moral thinking and reasoning. This downtime is linked with overall socio-emotional well-being. It also helps us build memories and transfer knowledge into new contexts.
Ron Pevny, in his book, Conscious Living, Conscious Aging, says, “Building time of solitude and silence into daily life ... is invaluable ... a time for looking within to see and feel what is happening on our passage through inner transition.”
“Silence opens me up ... and stillness comes in ... and the voice of nature itself speaks to me,” says Sherry Ruth Anderson in Ripening Time: Inside Stories for Aging with Grace.
Author Joan Halifax said in her book, Being with Dying: “Another way to connect to the moment is to use the sense fields: look out the window at the sky ... listen to the sounds in the room.”
And spiritual teacher Ram Dass: “We’re haunted by the sense that the ways we’d like to spend our time – sitting under a tree for instance ... are trivial, and somehow wrong. Aware of how addicted we are to external reinforcement assuring us that we’re good enough, we’re uneasy in retirement from achieving.”
If all these great spiritual teachers and scientists are telling us how important reflection is, why is it so hard to justify doing it?
I feel the psyche from deep within is doing its work during these times of quiet. It is processing the elements of my life similar to how dreams work. The world is fast; life is busy. These contemplative times help me sort it all out to where there is a sense of unfolding and awareness of the present. It balances me.
So, happy summer in your chaise lounge!
Martha McClellan has been a developmental educator in early childhood for 38 years. She has moved her focus now to the other end of life and has written the book, The Aging Athlete: What We Do to Stay in the Game. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.