Whether on the job, in the community or managing our home lives, we are often confronted by the perception that time is a scarce and limited resource. We rush from one commitment or activity to another and believe that we haven’t a minute to spare. We yearn for more time, yet we often feel anxious and guilty when idle.
Is this how life is supposed to be?
It certainly doesn’t have to be. Yet, until we change our relationship to time, life will always seem to speed away from us—at enormous cost to our health and to the way we experience the world around us.
“There is no issue, no aspect of human life, that exceeds this in importance,” says Jacob Needleman, author of Time and the Soul. “The destruction of time is literally the destruction of life.”
Shifting our relationship with time automatically enriches our life experience. Our time spent alone is richer, our aging is more satisfying, our work is more fruitful and stress and anxiety are less paralyzing, or perhaps even nonexistent.
To allow time to “breathe” more in your life, test out some of the following suggestions. You may find that your reservoir of time will begin to refill.
Pause. Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Han suggests taking a deep breath before answering the phone. Other conscious pauses throughout the day—a moment of silence before each meal, sitting in the car a few minutes before entering the house after work—help us to center ourselves and feel less scattered.
Carve out idle time alone. Greek philosopher Aristotle noted that “nature requires us not only to be able to work well but also to idle well.” Just because you’re not doing anything doesn’t mean that nothing’s getting done!
Live as fully as possible in the present moment. When we leave behind thoughts of the past or future, we can experience time more peacefully.
Examine underlying reasons for your busyness. What emotions would you experience if you weren’t so busy? What would you wish for? Often people unconsciously keep themselves in a frenetic state because stillness would cause them to face a painful experience such as the death of a loved one or divorce.
Play. Whether you sing, wrestle, paint, shake your booty—whatever—play helps us to step outside of ordinary time.
Create time retreats. Once a year or so, choose to do something for a week or more that allows you to shift into a different rhythm—something where you can just “be” without the need for doing anything.
Spend time in nature. We can’t help but slow down in nature’s unhurried pace. Watching a soaring bird or examining a flower can seem to stretch a minute into an hour.
We can learn to experience time more purposefully and meaningfully. By simply changing our own approach, we can rightfully perceive time as a gift, rather than as an enemy robbing us of life’s more joyful moments. iBi