Today is Day 8 of the “12 Days of Aries,” which aligns with the cosmic energy of Scorpio. It’s a day for connecting with compassion for ourselves and others and for finding our inner calm (insert deep breath here!). And one way to do that is by tapping into what I like to call “slow time.”
The doorway to slow time lies in that still, immovable present moment beneath all flurry and worry and emotional roller-coastering in our lives. Like the canvas under the painting or the silence behind the notes in a song, slow time is found in the spaces between. Tapping into slow time means leaving the constant whir of our thoughts and entering into the non-thoughts that hold them together. The passage into slow time is, in a sense, a doorway into eternity, since the now really never begins or ends. It just IS.
The idea of time as moving in a linear way is a construct of our own making. And let’s be honest–that broken water heater or the bumper-to-bumper traffic may want us to speed up, not slow down, our experience. Yet, as the Rav often said, “Consciousness is everything.” Therefore we can choose where we want to expand or contract our experience. The old adage that “this, too, shall pass” is a great reminder that whatever is happening at any given time is only a blip on the screen of eternity. That frustrating traffic, like everything else, is temporary. Likewise, there’s no “pause” button we can push to stop time (contrary to what cosmetics companies tell us). But we can pay attention more deeply. And when we consciously do so, we begin to perceive the more lasting qualities of the moment.
This isn’t easy to do, given the sheer number of distractions we contend with. According to Daniel Levitin, neuroscientist and author of The Organized Mind, most of us consume at least five times as much information as we would have 25 years ago. He estimates that the average person processes more than 100,000 words each day through one channel or another. Author Seth Goldenberg laments that “our relationship with time is dictated by the relentless frequency of transactions that mark our daily lives, slicing our time into smaller and smaller consumable parts.” He notes that even our language shows how fractured that relationship has become. Terms like “time management” or “time optimization” illustrate how something as abstract as living our days has become commodified. To him, we no longer manage our time; instead, our time manages us!
Here are three practices to help you take back your time, and even slow it down a little (or a lot):
- Get quiet, and commune with the present moment. In the documentary One Square Inch of Silence, Gordon Hempton went on a quest to find a spot in the U.S. that remained untouched by human-made sound. (For the record, the closest place he found was deep inside Olympic National Park.) Yet we can create our own version of quiet. Unplug… turn off… meditate. Take a walk in nature, or practice mindful movement. Most of all, take time to turn inward each day–if even for a few minutes–and listen to the wisdom within.
- Relish the “ordinary.” Take deep breaths. Savor your coffee. Look someone in the eye and really hear their every word. Time seems to slow down when we stop to smell, taste, feel, and touch more deeply and deliberately. When artist Georgia O’Keefe was asked what inspired her to paint a simple flower–a work that sold for $44.4 million, she said, “Nobody sees a flower. . . . we haven’t time–and to see takes time.”
- Set your mind free! By allowing our minds to wander, we create space, which often invites our most creative and even groundbreaking ideas that might otherwise take hours (or weeks or even years). Einstein spoke of how dreams (and daydreams) often spawned his greatest breakthroughs. In fact, his Theory of Relativity came to him while out gazing up at the night sky. By letting go and “tuning out,” he experienced a sudden flash that synthesized all the complexity of his research into one clear idea.
The lesson? By changing our relationship with time, who knows what magic may come?
Today, pay attention to the ways you perceive and interact with time. For instance, how often have you told someone how “busy” you are? And how often has someone else said the same thing to you?
The truth is, we are all busy–but we can consciously choose the direction of our busyness. When we feel pulled by the turbulence around us (Scorpio is, after all, a water sign), we’re at the mercy of the winds at the surface of life. But beneath even the most erratic wave lies the vast calm below.
This is the place where slow time lives. So we can choose chaos, or we can choose serenity. We can let those surface waves determine the speed and course of our days, or we can make time to immerse in the NOW and in all the possibilities it offers. We may not be able to hold onto any experience forever, but we can connect with it so deeply, we sense the eternity within it.
And from there, it’s like we have all the time in the world.