Chances are if you’ve ever looked into beginning a spiritual practice, you have heard of meditation. What you may not know is just how powerful a cure it can be for maladaptive daydreaming.
We all know how hard it is to make it through the day without getting distracted. That’s why it’s so important for us to find ways to improve our focus.
This is where meditation comes in. By incorporating it into your daily lifestyle, you can help cure your maladaptive daydreaming – and make your day just a little more productive.
What is Meditation?
Normally when we think of meditation, we picture a wise spiritual mystic alone on a mountain, contemplating the secrets of the universe. Or, we see it as some advanced skill reserved only for the most enlightened of us.
However, meditation is a lot less mysterious than it appears. At its core, it is about channeling our thoughts in order to achieve a specific purpose. This might include spiritual growth, relaxation, self-reflection, and much more. In meditation, we clear our minds of mental clutter to reach a unique state of consciousness. This opens us up to new insights and wisdom that we can apply to our own lives.
Meditation’s legacy spans several millenia, since the beginning of recorded human history (and possibly even earlier!). Although historians trace its early origins to India and Nepal, today, people around the world from a variety of cultural backgrounds find value in the practice.
The way people use meditation can vary. Many practitioners incorporate ritual elements such as incense, singing bowls, and prayer beads. Hinduist and Buddhist traditions also use mantras, repetitive words or sounds that maintain the meditative state. Over the years, people have added their own unique customs, making the practice more accessible to all.
How We Can Benefit From Meditation
Although we associate it with the mental and spiritual domains, meditation affects us on a physical level too. Research has shown that there is a noticable difference in the brains of those who regularly practice meditation and those who don’t.1
Here are just a few ways that we can benefit from daily meditation.
It can make us better thinkers.
Meditation can make significant changes to our brain structure, notably improving our ability to retain information. In one Harvard study, researchers instructed people to meditate for almost 30 minutes a day. After just eight weeks, they had more gray matter in the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for learning and memory.1
It helps us to get in touch with our emotions.
Studies also point to how meditation changes the amygdala, the emotion center of the brain. The brain scans done on people who meditated revealed a decrease in the amygdala’s gray matter, which contributes to lower levels of stress and anxiety. But that wasn’t all. The participants also experienced a stronger emotional response to human suffering, becoming more empathic than they were before meditating. What’s most interesting is that these changes had a long term effect, continuing even after they meditated.2
It can make us younger.
This one may seems hard to believe, but it’s true – meditation really can turn back the clock.
Normally, stress shortens our telomeres, or the “caps” at the ends our DNA. The shorter these telomeres are, the quicker we experience the signs of aging.
But meditation can lengthen our telomeres and reverse our age at the cellular level. One paper even found that patients with dementia experienced a benefit from just 10 hours of meditation.3 Clearly, it doesn’t take long before we can reap the benefits.
While it’s unlikely that meditation can completely cure aging, it can slow it down – and perhaps even add years to our lives.
Meditation Can Help Cure Maladaptive Daydreaming
Every time we daydream, we detach ourselves from our surrounding environment. We also lose awareness of our physical bodies, which is why daydreaming is associated with the common expression “having your head in the clouds.”
While occasional spaciness is harmless, too much can make us ungrounded, or disconnected from the physical reality. In this state, we are more prone to feeling anxious and forgetful. We become easily distracted, clumsy, and sometimes even experience vertigo. Needless to say, this is not a state we want to stay in for too long, but with maladaptive daydreaming, this is practically a guarantee!
When we meditate daily, we learn to ground ourselves. Instead of getting lost in the endless flow of our thoughts, we gain an acute awareness of the present moment. The details of our world become much clearer: the cool air filling our lungs, the rhythm of our heart beat, our blood flow, and so on.
Experts call this state mindfulness. When we practice mindfulness, we’re less likely to feel stressed, which means we will have a more positive outlook on life. We can also control and even cure our maladaptive daydreaming – enabling us to keep our focus where it belongs.
How Meditation Has Helped My MD
One of the biggest side effects I’ve dealt with as a maladaptive daydreamer is insomnia. Typically, my imagination is the strongest in the evening, when I’m the most relaxed. In the past, I could get so caught up in my daydreams that I never went to bed on time. Sometimes it would get so bad that I wouldn’t fall asleep until three in the morning!
That’s when I knew I had to find a cure. I had always heard about meditation, but didn’t give it much thought before. Yet now I knew I needed to take it more seriously. So I gave it a try, committing myself to practicing it for twenty minutes every night.
I struggled with it at first – going twenty minutes without daydreaming felt like a tall order! But I pressed through. And as the days went on, it got a little easier. Eventually, I found myself enjoying it. And best of all, not only did it help me cure the worst part of my maladaptive daydreaming, but I got more sleep too!
So now, even though I still like to daydream at night, I make sure to add meditation to my evening routine. I find it’s a great way to settle my thoughts before bed.
How to Get Started With Meditation
Anyone can practice meditation, regardless of age or skill level. However, it does require a little preparation first.
For the best results, you want to choose a time and place where you can be alone without interruptions. Some people prefer to meditate first thing in the morning, while others do so before going to sleep. Do what works best for you.
Whenever you meditate, make sure that you are completely comfortable. Try to avoid wearing any restrictive clothing or belts, and choose a comfy place to sit. It’s traditional to use a meditation cushion (called a zafu), but a pillow or mat is fine too. Some people also prefer to lie down while meditating, though you might find yourself falling asleep in the middle of a meditation, so be mindful of this.
If you want to get creative, you can incorporate other elements such as relaxation music and incense. They’re great tools for setting the mood. Just make sure that nothing you use is a trigger for your maladaptive daydreaming.
Breathing Technique: Sama Vritti (“Equal Breathing”)
Here is a simple exercise that will teach you how to control your breathing. Not only does it help with concentration and stress relief, but it’s also perfect for beginners who are completely new to meditation. It tends to be a foundation for many other meditations, so it’s a handy one to start with.
You can use this technique at any time or place that you choose, especially when you’re feeling the compulsion to daydream.
- Begin by closing your eyes. Allow your entire body to relax.
- Take a deep breath, inhaling through your nose to the count of five, then exhale slowly to the count of five.
- Occasionally, you’ll find your mind drifting to other thoughts – it’s perfectly normal. Just refocus your mind on your breathing, and the thoughts will fall away like sand.
- When you feel ready, increase your count to six, and repeat your breaths.
- For a greater challenge, continue this process increase your count by one until you can eventually reach ten. There’s no need to push yourself if you’re not ready – go at your own pace.
- Continue this meditation for as long as you wish.
When it comes to finding a cure for maladaptive daydreaming, meditation is a great tool to have in your arsenal. Just ten minutes can make a big difference in your day. Use it whenever you need to focus, such as before studying for an exam or heading to work.
With that said, I’ll leave you with a few pointers to keep in mind.
- Start small. Practice for 5-10 minutes, then work your way up to twenty, half an hour, then a full hour.
- If you can, stick to a routine. Try to meditate at the same time each day so it becomes a habit.
- Don’t feel bad if you have a hard time focusing. The more you practice, the easier it will get.
- It’s OK to change it up. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different meditations. No matter what you choose, make it work for you.
- Guided meditations are excellent for beginners. You can find plenty of them for free on YouTube. Some of my personal favorites are from The Honest Guys channel.
- Above all, have fun! Meditation shouldn’t be a chore. This is your time to devote to yourself – make the most of it.
What are your experiences with meditation? Have you ever used it to cure your maladaptive daydreaming? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.
 McGreevey, Sue. “Eight Weeks to a Better Brain.” Harvard Gazette. N.p., 21 Jan. 2011. Web. 20 July 2016.
 McGreevey, Sue. “Meditation’s Positive Residual Effects.” Harvard Gazette. N.p., 13 Nov. 2012. Web. 20 July 2016.
Greger, Michael. “Does Meditation Affect Cellular Aging?” NutritionFacts.org. N.p., 29 Sept. 2014. Web. 20 July 2016.