Sunday, March 29, 2015

Daydreaming Profoundly Strengthens Your Brain

With the emergence of the new fields of contemplative neuroscience, neuropsychology, and neuro-economics, we now have a growing toolbox of techniques that have been shown to strengthen those areas of the brain that make us happier and more skilled at achieving our goals. And the most important tool is the one that we never bring into the classroom environment and rarely bring into the workplace. Daydreaming.

When we are focusing on a task, only a small part of our decision-making frontal lobes are busy. But we can only remain consciously focused for brief periods of time (anywhere between 10-40 minutes) before the neurochemicals of concentration are depleted. Then our minds begin to wander.

Brain-scan studies show that neural activity dramatically increases when we let the mind wander. At first, this may seem like a distraction (and it is, because your brain needs a break!), but the newest research shows that this “daydreaming” state gives you immediate access to extraordinary creative processes.

If you deliberately take a 60 second daydreaming break every hour, you’ll find that the next hour of work feels more satisfying. Add a few seconds of yawning and stretching before you concentrate on your work and you’ll optimize your brain for peak performance.

Conscious Daydreaming is the Easiest Thing to Do 
Just close your eyes for a minute and watch how your mind wanders through random thoughts, feelings, and images. It’s like a fractured movie, and all you need to do is sit in front of the “screen” and mindfully watch everything float in and out of consciousness.

It’s one of the most powerful ways to improve emotional and cognitive functioning, and it's the state where fresh insights occur. Conscious daydreaming is essential to learn anything and keep your work productivity high.

Special thanks to leading neuroscience expert and best-selling author Mark Waldman for the material of this post. Check out his university-endorsed Neurowisdom 101 brain training program.