Do you think of time as a straight, linear progression, 60 seconds to the hour, 7 days to the week? Time for an update.
Today’s physicist envisages the passage of history as curves embedded in six dimensions – four of space and two of time. ‘One whole dimension of time and another of space have until now gone entirely unnoticed by us,’ Itzhak Bars of the University of Southern California recently told New Scientist.
Although we cannot experience the extra time dimension directly, we can effectively notice it through the different perspectives of the different ‘shadows’, just as a hand makes many different shadows on a wall when lit from different angles.
This interpretation of time is not that different from that expressed by Benjamin Disraeli when he said, ‘But what minutes! Count them by sensation, and not by calendars, and each moment is a day’. Or the guy who said the length of a minute depends on which side of the bathroom door you’re on.
We’ve all had such experiences of time ‘speeding’ or ‘slowing’. It is not only a finite resource, the great teacher that kills all its pupils; it is also malleable and expandable.
You don’t find time, you make it. Create it, if you like. And as with all creations, it begins with what you allow yourself to imagine.
1. Change your thought track. To tweak Henry Ford’s famous axiom, whether you think you have enough time, or not enough time, you’re right. Start telling yourself: ‘I have all the time in the world’.
2. Slow down. Like a poem or a dance, life has its own pace and rhythm — and it tends to be slower than that encouraged by contemporary lifestyles. Being creatively intelligent means aligning with this pace, completely accepting what is, moment by moment.
3. Forget the future day off, weekend away, summer vacation, retirement … all those notions of future time when everything will be perfect. Instead, slip inside a small pocket of time as often as you can. Today, now. Breathe, stretch out. See how much room there is in there.
4. Let go of the past. Practice presence.
5. Simplify, simplify, simplify. Slowly and steadily, one by one, release yourself from duties, obligations, people, activities that are not either utterly essential or utterly adorable.
6. Eliminate distraction. Turn off the phone. Unplug the internet. Kill your television. Whatever it takes, do it. As you do, feel the time expanding within you and beyond.
7. Get in flow, described by Mr Flow himself, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, ‘the state in which you are so involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter’. In that condition, time does not slow down so much as become something else entirely.
8. Meditate and F-R-E-E-Write. Those who say they don’t have time for these continue to flurry around in a flap. Those who stop long enough to do them (20 mins each a day) know these activities don’t take time, they make time.
9. Return to the present (reprise). Neither past nor future can prevail against presence, the only dimension of time/space where life is is actually lived.
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