Admittedly I love having enough time! Time to think, time to breath, time to feel, choose, move, express, eat, sleep, love, laugh, learn new things, do my best, dream, enjoy life fully and especially time to be; my deepest currency of wealth, truly is time. Yet every day I meet people frantically spinning out their sacred days on the hamster wheel of time convinced that if only they could go faster, be more efficient, get more stuff done, they would finally have enough time to enjoy life.
A few weeks ago I was listening to a pod cast by Sam Harris. In his interview with a long time tech expert it was revealed that the industry of technology could just as easily be coined the industry dedicated to harnessing our attention. In fact thousands of experts will work on apps, web-sites and social media just to garner our sacred attention for a few moments longer. As I listened I was reminded of my meditation practice and more specifically Sarah Mclean’s new book, The Power of Attention. While Sarah is writing about meditation both her and the multi- billion dollar tech industry are clearly equating our sacred attention with both our internal power and our currency ….hmmmmm.
About fifteen years ago, before I started meditating, my head felt like a chronic traffic jam. Born a thinking type, working in a thinking career, it wasn’t hard for me to exceed the national average of one thought per second, or about 100,000 thoughts per day. Definitely not braggin here….just sayin. Each thought translates to a series of neurological firings that couples with the release of a whole host of neuro-chemical activity affecting not only your brain, but your entire body/mind. The more of this random activity we have the less time we experience.
In meditation we train the mind to come to one place of focus, again and again and again, just as we would train a puppy off the leash to stop running amuck and come gently walk beside us.
Over time we become more and more aware of the random reactivity of our thoughts and more and more skilled at harnessing our own attention by choice. When the mind is filled with random chatter our reality turns into an experience of overwhelm, stress and anxiety just like the chronic traffic jam in my head was fifteen years ago. This is the exact opposite of having time.
Many of us have forgotten that time is an inner experience based on outer events. Time doesn’t actually exist on its own outside of us. But we have become so conditioned to externalized time, we have forgotten that time is nothing without us. Just think back to Einstein’s theory of relativity for a moment and you will remember that time as we know it is actually a construct of the mind in relation to objects and events. To know the true currency of time imagine placing your hand on a hot burner for 1 minute versus sitting comfortably in your favourite chair reading a good book; would each experience give you the same personal perception of time?
The concept of time is one of the grandest paradoxes there is. Unlike most tasks in life creating time does not come by trying harder, getting more efficient or crossing one more item off your to do list. While you might be aware that there are only so many hours of daylight to perform certain tasks and, you likely won’t be living forever on planet earth, the more you hammer your mind/body hard drive with busyness and feelings of overwhelm the less time you will have to live and enjoy your life. This at its core is the grand paradox.
In meditation we become increasingly skilled at training attention away from the inherent randomness and reactivity of the mind. The more we do this, the more our perception of time opens up. This internally spacious reality, in which we have the freedom to choose, eventually weaves into our days and becomes our new reality. So when I meet people trapped on the hamster wheel of time I feel both empathetic and I feel perplexed. I can’t help but wonder; if our multi-billion dollar tech industry bases its profits on the currency of our sacred time; why aren’t we willing to do the same?
Time past and time future allow but a little consciousness; to be conscious is not to be in time.