When I am driving, walking, waiting or doing things which do not require my full attention I start to daydream. I live through past events or I imagine the future. This can trigger various emotions and I can totally lose myself in the daydream. The external world seems to disappear.
Using Open Focus vocabulary, when I daydream my attention is narrow immersed. Daydreaming comes effortlessly when I stop paying attention to whatever I am doing. It affects my sense of time which seems to accelerate. It usually brings relief and makes me less watchful.
When my daydreaming is interrupted by external stimulus – like a loud noise – it wakes me up for a moment. I then correct my action according to the circumstances (e.g. I turn on wipers in the car) and I start daydreaming again. I call these moments – jumping into the present. Using Open Focus vocabulary, when I wake up from a daydream I am briefly in the narrow objective attention style.
I find most people do that. You can notice it when watching people waiting in a queue. They are daydreaming and wake up only every now and then to check what progress they have made in the queue. You can observe that in other places: trains, waiting rooms, bus stops, people smoking cigarettes or eating on their own. It seems that in these situations people regularly switch between narrow immerse and narrow objective attention style.
Since I became aware of this I have discovered a new style of diffusing my attention. I feel everything that happens inside my body, together with stimuli coming from the outer world.
Say, I am in a coffee bar waiting for my coffee and I am listening to the music. I imagine that the music is coming from inside my head and is a part of my daydream. I also imagine feeling the music in my whole body or moving up and down my body. I feel the gentle vibration of my knees when it moves through them.
Another example is when I can feel the wind on the side of my body which is not exposed to it. It feels as if it blows right through me and affects not only the skin on the surface but the whole of my body inside. When I walk in to a pool of cold water I feel the water touching my feet and on the top of my head. Then, I move this feeling down towards the real sensation while I walk in deeper and deeper.
It connects my inner and outer worlds, nicely diffusing my attention. It keeps me relaxed and it gives me a sense of being immersed which makes those moments a lot more enjoyable and bearable.
In a similar way I ‘entertain’ myself walking long corridors at my family doctor practice – see this post.