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Our writers invite you along on their journeys through Lent. Follow the play-by-play of their personal spiritual practices and share your own.

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March 17th, 2014

BRIAN – DAY 13: To Daydream or Not to Daydream?

 
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Pillow

Sometimes I think I dream more when I am awake than when my head is on the pillow.

This might not be true; I have never been a great one for remembering my dreams. But as I journey through my Lenten practice of meditating at least 10-15 minutes a day – which is in truth also a striving for heightened mindfulness – I am becoming increasingly aware of how often my thoughts wander throughout the day.

This is especially noticeable during my designated prayer time. My seemingly simple goal thus far has been to focus on little more than my breathing. Generally, I am good for an inhale and half an exhale before my attention turns elsewhere.

This mattress is pretty comfortable, but the room’s a little cold.

God, I hope it warms up soon. This winter is grinding my gears.

What’s that Cream album called? Disraeli Gears? I should really give it a listen.

Who came up with the expression “cream of the crop”? Most crops aren’t creamy at all.

What caused the Irish Potato Famine? Bad weather?

I bet there was an early heavy metal band called Bad Weather.

Can you believe Paul Ryan listens to heavy metal? I feel like he’d be more into “Glee.”

I wonder if the Netflix Mitt Romney documentary is any good.

Romney’s classmates had to have made a lot of mitt-based baseball jokes.

Call it distractedness in an age of endless outlets for entertainment. Call it limitless fascination with the thoughts that stream through my cranial cavity. Whatever it is, I am beginning to suspect that dedicating my prayer time to a single thought or intention is an elusive goal.

My tendency is to double down on my effort to hone in on a single breath, thought or mantra during my meditation. But I have also started considering a different approach: to simply let my mind wander freely.

The benefits of daydreaming have been fairly well-documented, but this notion of letting my imagination run away goes deeper. Perhaps this alleged problem is not really a problem at all. Maybe my aim should not be to stop its free reign but rather to grow in my awareness of it. This could be the heightened mindfulness I have sought but previously seen as a different sort of concentration.

 

 

 
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The Author : Brian Harper
Brian Harper is a writer, musician and community outreach coordinator for a small business. He has lived in Peru, South Africa, and Italy, and his writing has been featured in America magazine, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and various other print and online publications. You can find his work at www.brianharper.net.
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