For many of us who are living through this historic time in history, you maybe having an unusual experience of time. Gone is the familiar structure of our day, a scaffolding upon which we hang our lives on, giving us an illusory sense of security. I have been speaking with students over the last few weeks, and listen to their stories of time; shifting sleep schedules, days passing without the familiar signposts of class, lunch hour with friends, group project face to face meeting times and evening intramural basketball. We now have more ‘time on our hands’ and yet it feels like there are days when it slips through our fingers, gone and irretrievable.
One such day was when I awoke with a plan of commitments I had generated, steps I needed to take to get me to an outcome- a series of online workshops for high school and university students. The day started with my list of priorities and my good intentions and then… I got hooked into a series of online news articles and interviews that lured me into the rabbit hole of ideas- Plato’s cave where shadows are mistaken for the actual unseen casting objects. When I came out of the dark rabbit hole of the internet, time like the shadow, had disappeared, evaporated into a mist that I no longer could grasp.
We all have experienced this, the sudden passing of time discarded onto the digital trash heap, often leaving us dazed and confused as we watch our best intentions go down the tubes. So how do we build a relationship with time, where values such as respect, commitment, transparency and love are strengthened and nurtured?
In writing this, I did something different. I had my list of priorities,- to have this post ready this morning, scheduled my time into the best times of day for me to write, the morning, and committed to completing this in one hour. This gave me a scaffold, that I broke down further into 25 minute blocks of focus time, with 5 minute breaks. I have just completed the first 25 minutes and my experience of time has expanded! I have completed a page of writing, including research, marking time. This commitment and intention gives me the energy and willpower to follow through, and a pressure tool that helps me to focus and attend to my ideal, and the action that is needed.
During the 5-minute break, which was getting up from my desk and preparing a cup of tea, a new metaphor appeared in my awareness! The break of time, shifted my mind from the linear left brain focus on the task to an open sky of time, now instead of a particle, was a wave. Time was flowing, a pregnant pause rich with potentiality. This is where great thinkers and artists hang out, knowing it as essential to their creative endeavours. This flow state is often described as where passing of time disappears and when we emerge, there is a boon or gift from another dimension, where gods and humans mingle.
I have taught this principle of short focussed work periods with timed breaks to many students with ADHD, and for some who take up the practice with commitment and determination experience the seismic shifting of their reality. Where there was once an attention overload with the accompanying obstacles of completing a task, they were now working the muscle of attention, while giving themselves a short, limited and timed break from the task. They started to apply it to other areas in their life, house cleaning etc. and reported back with great enthusiasm the joy they were now experiencing in their now productive lives.
Try this: 1) Block out your day into 1-2 hours focus times for studying or writing a paper, or if you are not a student say for de-cluttering your home, often something we put off for another day. Commit to this time and set a timer or download an app, i.e. Focus Keeper/Pomodora and set it for 25-40 minutes with 5 minute breaks and enjoy the ride!
Suggested breaks: NO to surfing or social media. Get up, move the body, lift weights, get water and a snack, pet the dog or cat, smile and chat with friend or family member, and get a big hug.
The more you practice this, watch how time becomes more a friend, where you and it are working together