Ironically, I do not think there is enough time in the world to fully and completely cover the complex and complicated subject of time. Even physicists agree that time is one of the most difficult properties of our universe to understand.
As someone who is late for most things, I feel that time is a conspiracy anyway!! But after many recent conversations about how time seems to be whizzing past us (we are quarter of the way through 2019 already!), and one yogini feeling absolutely terrible about turning up 4 minutes late for my workshop at the weekend explaining that she, like myself, has no concept of time-keeping and cannot work out how to change her perception of time so that she can be on time for things, made me think about ways in which we can somehow claw back a bit of time!
In general, the Islamic and Judeo-Christian world-view regards time as linear and directional, beginning with the act of creation by God. In the modern Western world, it is this view of time that we still currently have. There is a past, a present and a future; and life is a series of events one happening after the other.
However, the Ancient Greeks, Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and other religions have a concept of a wheel of time: they regard time as cyclical and quantic, consisting of repeating ages that happen to every being of the Universe between birth and extinction.
Yoga, being heavily influenced by Buddhism and Hinduism, also views time as cyclical.
If we think about it, all of our most common time measurement systems we use in daily life are cyclical – the moon, the seasons, the days in a week/month/year, etc.
A post on www.theperspective.com explains how, “until recently, the lives of agricultural, nomadic, and even urban peoples were governed by the endlessly repeating seasonal round. Calendars, which portray time as a linear concept, are a recent phenomenon when compared to the long-term existence of our species. The earliest calendar may have developed as early as 10,000 years ago; well-documented calendar systems do not become common in the archaeological record until within the last 5,000 years. Our species is 200,000 years old; so for at least 95% of humankind’s existence as a species, time was cyclical and circadian”.
The post goes on to ask, “What is the difference between the Hebrew, Chinese, Gregorian, and Mayan calendars? Ultimately, from the perspective of time itself, not much. These calendars have different origins, starting points, counting systems, and holidays that are relevant only to people, not animals, plants, or the planet. In the end, each of these calendars is nothing more than a cultural construct based on local political, religious, scientific, and economic systems created by humans”.
This leads me on to Einstein’s theory of relativity. Now, I am not even going to even attempt to explain this in any detail, because it is far beyond the scope of my own intellect, and the point I want to make in my Yoga classes this week! But simplified, Einstein says that time is a relative concept – it speeds up or slows down depending on how fast you move relative to something else. Also, apparently, the higher you live above sea level, the faster you should age, because gravity can also bend time!
Before this gets way too mind-blowing and complicated, the point is that Einstein’s theory proves that time and space are not as constant as everyday life would suggest.
Think about how time seems to fly by when we are having a great conversation with a friend, or when we are doing something we love. And how it also seems to slow down when we are doing something we find boring? How can time be an objective constant in this instance?
Our idea of time comes from the Newtonian paradigm, which says that there is only a finite amount of time - it assumes that there is a scarcity of time. This is what gives us the feeling of urgency – the feeling that we never have “the right amount of time”. There are never enough hours in the day. Thus we are always busy and rushing, trying to stay ahead of the clock and fit in as much as possible in a week, half a day, or an hour.
There is a book by an author called Gay Hendricks which personally I have not read yet, but in it, he explains that, “At the heart of the Newtonian time crunch is a dualistic split: we are deluded into thinking that time is ‘out there’; an actual physical entity that can put pressure on us ‘in here’.”
But, “When we switch to Einstein Time, we take charge of the amount of time we have. We realize that we’re where time comes from. We embrace this liberating insight: since I’m the producer of time, I can make as much of it as I need,” says Gay Hendricks.
As soon as you stop thinking that time is ‘out there’, you can take ownership of time. If you acknowledge that you are where time comes from, it will stop owning you. You won’t be the slave of time anymore.
And now, the only thing to do is to implement this insight…
The Huffpost has a great article that may come in handy here.
A few tips about how to master your own time:
1. Take a deep breath.
Most of us will say, “But I do not have time to take a deep breath!”, and that this “deep breath” idea is just cliché. But really, we all have enough time to take a full, complete, deep inhale and exhale. Try it now. When you do, you might actually feel time expand a tiny bit. And if you take a few, deep breaths, you might feel it expand even more.
Doing this will oxygenate the body and mind and give yourself a chance to approach things more calmly, which will in fact feel like time expanding.
2. Make a list and get out of your head.
Remember my post on feeling overwhelmed?!
Making a list might seem a laborious and time-consuming task in itself, but doing so will free your mind from overwhelm and put all of the things you need to do in front of you. This way you can see them, approach them, and deal with them one by one; giving you more time in the long run to slowly get everything done.
Put your list in order of importance. Prioritise the big things, and before you move on to everything else, tackle that task first.
3. Combine efforts.
Try to schedule things so that all of your activities fall back to back on the same day — making for a busy day, but also leaving other days of the week open for you to feel more spacious.
4. Schedule less.
It may seem obvious, but if overwhelm is becoming a regular state of mind, and you are feeling yourself never having enough time, perhaps you ought to think about doing less. If it is making you stressed or anxious, then maybe it really is too much.
Whatever you give up for now will be there when you are ready to approach it again, but you are not serving anyone by completely overextending yourself.
Ask yourself if you really need to do everything yourself? Maybe try looking to friends, colleagues or family members who might be able to pick up some of the slack for you. This could simply be out of the kindness of their own hearts (and more often than not, it will be), or in exchange for other tasks that you are doing anyway.
Share, trade, barter, bargain: whatever you can do to make things feel more efficient and fun.
6. Get more sleep.
It seems funny to think of sleeping more as giving you more time, but everyone knows that when you are well-rested you are a much more efficient machine. Try going to bed 30 minutes earlier, and leave something undone that night. You will feel stronger, more capable, more efficient, and happier too – then you can get more done more joyfully the following day.
In our modern age, there is always one more thing that needs to be done. One more thing that creeps in to our time schedule and sucks precious time away from us! To battle against this and gain some time back for yourself, decide from the very beginning what is most important – your mental and physical health, or doing the hovering?!
Remember that time is relative and cyclical. The ageing process, from birth to eventually giving ourselves back to the earth, is simply the “circle of life”.
So why not have a blast whilst we are here for now, and spend our time doing more of the things we enjoy!