“If the universe is movement, it will not be in one direction only. We think of our lives as linear but it is the spin of the earth that allows us to observe time.” – Jeannette Winterson, English writer and CBE, Commander of the Order of the British Empire
Now there’s a theory to ponder. Took me a while to make sense of it but as time and I have had our go-rounds for years, it was well worth the effort. Depending upon your spiritual bent, God may or may not move in linear time. I’m of the second persuasion, as I believe that time in the spiritual realm is not remotely linear. Though that concept can be a bit tricky to wrap a human mind around, you may have had the experience of living in “expanded time.”
Meditation can sometimes take me there as long as “monkey mind” isn’t exploring every bright, shiny object that trots down the highway. On those far-from-peaceful days, I just show up for meditation, sit as still as my fidgets allow, and hope I can find a wee bit of calm among my mind’s over-zealous activity. But occasionally, I can discover a stillness “between the thoughts,” as Deepak Chopra says. And when that happens, I completely understand the appeal and renewing power of the practice. On those days, it seems my mind is not in charge but is allowing a peek into a higher consciousness of sorts where everything simply is. Often, amazing ideas occur to me. Sometimes they’re about people I want to contact, projects that support my perceived purpose here on earth, or possible roads to growth that lie as-yet undiscovered.
And at the ends of such awakenings, I always list those thoughts, those possibilities, and feel the excitement that I might actually accomplish them. I love those times that I do!
Another example of expanded time that is, I believe, more common, is the experience of time slowing down dramatically when someone is in a situation of danger or possible harm, or needs to react quickly to prevent something awful from happening.
Born horse-crazy, I finally succumbed to the allure of having my own to ride and care for my junior year in college. A member of one of the last U.S. Army mounted equine units, my stepfather agreed to pay for half of a green-broke mare, complete with saddle and bridle, and I was to pay him back over the following year. Which I did. All behind my animal-fearing mother’s back. Having no clue of the expense involved, I’d been asking for a horse for years, to which her reply always was, “You’ll get killed!”
But I digress. That mare and I learned a lot together, but there was one thing she was unable to change. Though her hooves were big and round as pancakes, when I was astride and we were walking downhill on wet grass, she’d slip and fall every time, hard as she’d try to remain upright. Whenever that happened, time would slow way down and it seemed to take forever before we’d hit the ground, so I had time to prepare and never got hurt. She’d always look embarrassed but I knew she couldn’t help it.
You’ve likely experienced that type of slowed-down time.
One of my go-to resources for wisdom, Kai Sky – the artist formerly known as Brian Andreas – has the following to impart about time. I’m sure he has more but this spoke to me:
“Everything changed the day she figured out there was exactly enough time for the important things in her life.”
I even have a shopping bag with this quote and one of his marvelously simplistic illustrations adorning it. Has this knowledge changed my relationship with time for the better? I wish it had. Seems easy enough, but obviously not, as I continue to attempt to squeeze ten pounds of daily activities into a five-pound bag, load my calendar with way more than one human can possibly accomplish, and be surprised by deadlines even though they may have occupied a particular spot on my calendar for eons. All I needed to do was look.
If any of the above sounds even remotely familiar, this exercise might help. The exquisite horses of the Spanish Riding School of Vienna execute often-complicated moves at exactly the same time as their equine comrades, reacting to signals from their riders that are undetectable to the eyes of observers. While training his charges, the school’s director gives a command and then asks, “What do you say, gentlemen?”
Their answer is always “I have time.” This response overrides any sense a rider may have of rushing, so that he and his mount are as one and have relaxed into the performance. The next time you’re stressing about time, give yourself a minute to delay any action, get present, and state aloud, “I have time.” These three tiny words may be enough to help you chill, give you a moment of choice, and create a clearer focus.
Should you be up against a necessary deadline and perhaps a tad freaked out about finishing a project on time, Patty de Llosa, life coach and teacher of tai chi, chi gong, and the Alexander Technique, offers the following strategic plan.
- Hone in on how you really feel about the project and accept those feeling as your truthat that moment.
- Turn to the only place that can offer you freedom: look within yourself. Whatever those thoughts and feelings you find are, channel their energy toward the job at hand.
- Focus your attention on what your hands are doing, whether it’s typing on computer keys, packing dirt around a transplanted azalea bush, or sketching a new advertising plan for a persnickety client. Derive sensory pleasure from touch.
- Let your attention move to other parts of your body that may be harboring tightness due to stress – your shoulders, lower back, neck, or stomach, perhaps. Find those tense spots and invite them to release.
- Occasionally, if you’re sitting, get up and stretch your legs. Walk into another room, see what’s happening outside your office or studio, take a few breaths of fresh air. Do anything you can to interrupt the bond that adheres all your attention to what you’re doing, if for only a few minutes, to relieve those muscle-knots. Says de Llosa, “The body possesses wisdom that thought doesn’t understand.”
Make friends with time and give your body the opportunity to help itself. It’s the only one you have.