If time were an animal, it would be on the endangered species list. At least that’s how it seems: Too much to do, too many places to be, too little time to do it all.
On the job, in school, at home, we are increasingly imprisoned 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?
No! Nor does it have to be.
But until we change our relationship to time, our lives will continue to speed away from us—at enormous cost to our health and to direct experience of ourselves and 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.”
When we learn to shift time, our relationships become more rewarding, our time spent alone is richer, our aging is more satisfying, our work is more fruitful, and our stress and anxiety are less paralyzing, or even nonexistent.
To allow time to “breathe” more in your life, try some or all of the following suggestions from Stephan Rechtschaffen, author of Timeshifting, as well as others. See if your reservoir of time starts 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 “come home” to ourselves.
Breath. Inhale a gentle breathe, pause at the end of it for 2 to 4 seconds, exhale, pause at the end it for 2 to four seconds. Repeat 5-7 cycles. This is a gentle reset rhythm.
Step into your healthy Rhythms. Maintain rhythms that support health, peace of mind and time for what matters most to you. Eat a good breakfast, pray, move your body, unplug, hydrate, play, and love with gusto. Repeat daily.
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, says Eckhart Tolle, author of The Power of Now.
Toss your schedule whenever you can. Even better, schedule spontaneous time and then surprise yourself.
Examine underlying reasons for your busyness. What emotions would you experience if you weren’t so busy? What would you wish for? Emotional work is challenging but essential if we are to stop running from our hearts.
Play. Whether you sing, wrestle, paint, shake your bootie—whatever—play helps us to step outside of ordinary time.
Create gratitude time every day. Gratitude is a healthy way to shift your mindset and reset your inner clock. It is such a simple yet an effective way to create time for what matters most.
Spend time in nature. We can’t help but slowdown in nature’s unhurried pace. Watching a soaring bird or examining a flower can seem to stretch a minute into an hour.
Set boundaries. Setting boundaries is a great way to deal with time. Say ‘No’ to those activities, clients, and pursuits that are not in your highest good. This is one of the best time management tools I have seen in a long time!
We can learn to experience time more purposefully and meaningfully—so that it’s not an enemy robbing us of the joy of life. We needn’t be at time’s mercy. When we change our awareness, we can actually experience the gifts of time.
For the month of November Take time to practice one of these tools. Take time for what matters most to you. This small shift will have a huge impact on you dealing with your chronic pain, stress, and dis-ease and help you transform these into sustained health, peace of mind and yes, time for what matters most!