What’s the difference?
Several prominent differences exist between mindful awareness and daydreaming. We’ve discussed at length what mindful awareness is. It’s a focused concentration of ourselves in the moment.
We become aware of all the senses and how they’re being stimulated. We non-judgmentally accept and observe the feelings that arise from our inner recesses, and let them go.
Mindfulness is always a state of awareness focused in the here and now.
What about daydreams?
They can be relaxing but daydreams are a form of autopilot, a disconnection from the here and now.
When you’re daydreaming, you’re not focused on anything. You’re not focused on your breathing, your feelings, or your senses.
Daydreams can serve a useful function in simple relaxation, but they don’t do much for combating stress or anxiety. By their nature, daydreams tend to be uncontrollable.
Wish fulfillment might be part of a daydream, fantasies or other escapism are present as well—and there’s nothing at all wrong with that.
However, if we want to get all the benefits from mindful awareness, we can’t wool gather. We have to be thoughtfully, mindfully present and focused.
If daydreaming is the lack of focus, a wandering of the mind, then mindful awareness is keen attention paid to what we’re doing, what we’re experiencing and where we are.
Meditation is a state of heightened, perhaps even pure consciousness without the clutter of our memories, our itineraries, even our thoughts themselves distracting us.
In our society, we often use the phrase, “I need to meditate on this.” In that reference, mediation simply means to contemplate deeply and thoroughly.
That isn’t meditation, as such. Meditation is a state of no-thought, without analysis, without judgment.
Thoughts and feelings may arise, like bubbles from the sea, but we let them go. We merely observe them as they vanish.
Daydreams and fantasies serve many purposes, but to say they have a use in ongoing stress and anxiety reduction is simplistic.
In some ways, they take paths that are entirely opposite from mindful awareness and meditation, both of which are states of utter awareness and absolute presence.
In mediation, our awareness is placed ahead of our thoughts and all that they encompass.
Mindful awareness seeks to bring us to the here and now, and seeks to help us anchor ourselves in the moment in which we’re living.
It improves our concentration, sharpens our thinking, and is quite the opposite of the often pleasant but fuzzy nature of our daydreams.