For the past couple of weeks I’ve been inspired to discuss time on my Facebook Live videos, and I’m realizing that’s my intuition telling me more people need to consider time and how it’s viewed. I’ve said in my videos that we cannot control time, but we can control how we perceive it and how we react to it. This is the key. I hear people constantly saying things like, “Where has the time gone,” “Time is at a snail’s pace,” and “Time flies when you’re having fun.” I’m guilty of this as well. Many times (ha!) there is a negative connotation behind how we perceive time. It’s either going too fast or too slow.
But, what if we looked at time as a moment by moment opportunity for growth? What if we were able to be more present rather than constantly living in the past or pining for the future? So many people look to the outside world for happiness, but happiness is truly found within the self. It seems when we say, “I wish I had the time to do x, y, z,” or “If I could go back in time I would do (blank),” we’re looking to time to make us happy and heal us. While I do believe time does heal, I don’t believe going back in time or speeding it up heals. No, we need to use time to our advantage–to heal, to be present, and to experience life to its fullest.
Look at the experiences that make time slow down, or you even lose track of time. Massage is a wonderful example. So often I have clients lay down on my table for a 90-minute session and when I ask them how they’re feeling at the end of a session and to take their time getting up, 99 times out of 100 they ask, “Oh, is it over already?” Yes, yes, it is. In an instance such as massage, yoga, or even meditation your brain gets to a state of slower brain waves. There are 5 states of brain waves–alpha, beta, theta, delta, and gamma. Theta waves lower stress and anxiety and activate healing. But theta are only activated during deep relaxation. When you reach theta waves you lose track of time; it becomes irrelevant. Beta brainwaves are active in our waking state, so you’re more aware of time and the tasks you need to complete in that time. In a beta brainwave state you are fighting against that clock, working, cooking, running errands, etc. Before you know it, your day is gone and you’re left wondering where the time went. This is where it is important to stop and really take stock of your presence and awareness. Either go to yoga, get a massage, or do a meditation to get your brain into a state of relaxation and theta waves to heal and let go of trying to control time and worrying about time.
As one person loses track of time, another can be perceiving time in a completely different way. Looking at massage again: my client is on the table, relaxed, most likely in a theta brainwave state, and not having a care in the world about time. While I, the massage therapist, am structuring the session and looking at the clock mapping out in my brain what parts of the body to hit (especially if there are specific requests made by the client) within the allotted time frame. My perception of time is completely different from that of my client’s. Now, there are some sessions where I map everything out and I look at the clock and think, “Oh dear lord, I only have five minutes left!” I then wonder where the time went and work to finish up without making the client or myself late for whatever is coming after the session. There are other times when I map it out, look at the clock and think, “Huh…I still have 30 minutes left…why has time practically stopped?” There are two different perceptions (mine and the client’s) of time in the same place. So really, time is in the eye of the beholder. It means something different to everyone even in the same place.
Time isn’t something you can control. You know you are a present and an aware person when your concept of time starts to dissipate from your focus. What I mean is, when you are able to appreciate each moment to moment without focusing on the time factor but rather the experience, you are a present and grounded person. This takes practice, don’t get me wrong. Remember, I’m a massage therapist, my whole job is about time! But even for me, I can practice presence too–each moment I work on the client is a moment to facilitate healing. Instead of looking at your watch or phone when at the playground with your child, be there for him or her. Play and watch. If you have somewhere to be and need to leave the playground in a half hour, sure, set the timer, but then leave it alone until it rings. There’s no need to constantly look at the clock. This will allow you to be present with your child. When the timer goes off move onto the next task, but again, moment by moment. There’s really no need to rush. Rushing against inevitable time causes stress, and you release hormones of fight or flight. Yes, we do have responsibilities and I’m not saying to blow off time, but to look at it differently. Work with it. Sure plan, but know that sometimes plans change and time will keep moving. It’s okay. You’re here. You’re safe. You’re moving through time exactly how you need to be right in this moment.
Look at the earth. Seasons come and go. The earth is a great example of how to move through time, work with it, and let go. So often we want it to be the next season or a different time of year, wishing away our time because it’s too cold or too hot. How can you look at this differently? Mother Earth is a wise teacher. Winter is a time to go inward and reflect. It’s a time for solitude and preparation for the busy months of spring and summer. It’s a time for rest. Instead of wishing winter away because it’s cold, look at it as a wonderful time to be cozy with yourself. Spring then teaches us life begins anew. Time lengthens for us in a sense as the days start to grow longer and warmer. Life picks up with a renewed energy because warmth is coming, seeds in gardens are planted, and outdoor play comes to the forefront again. Summer is a time for community, abundance, and fun. Summer is the time when we have get-togethers outside, play with friends, start to see the fruits of our gardens and trees, and have fun into the evening because it’s warm and refreshing. This time is one of happiness and joy. Usually, we are okay with time going slow on those lazy summer days. Often, though, time slips away because, like in the theta brainwaves, you’re enjoying yourself and are more relaxed, so time becomes irrelevant. It’s okay though because Fall teaches us about letting go and how to prepare for that time of inner work, which also can bring peace and happiness. The trees let go of their leaves, the last bit of harvest comes from our gardens, and a chill enters the air. It’s a beautiful time of year though–colors, morning frosts, and pumpkin flavored everything! The seasons are our teachers. Each season offers a lesson in time. When you’re feeling warn down, or like time is slipping away, or wishing you could go back to a different time, stop and focus on the here and now. Where are you? What are you doing in this moment? Do you like what you’re doing? If not, what can you change in this moment? How can you react to this moment differently? The moment is happening, that you cannot change, but your reaction is well within your control.
Life is nothing more than one moment to the next. When you string those moments together in a linear fashion, you have a past, present, and future. Each moment inevitably passes. You can choose to enjoy the moments, miss the moments, regret the moments, or simply be in the moment. The choice, the perception, and the reaction is yours. I challenge you to be present and live each moment to its fullest.