Access vast reservoirs of hidden time.
The pace of life feels exceptionally fast. With so many demands, so much information, and so few hours in a day, it can feel daunting to just begin the day with any hope of completing the dreaded to-do list. There is a subtle art, however, than can help you access what can feel like vast reservoirs of hidden time.
If you wake up on Friday, and can’t believe that it’s actually Friday, (wasn’t it just Monday?), you probably have the experience of life slipping by at a dizzying pace. You may feel frantic, wondering how you will squeeze in all the important things, let alone those that just need to happen. Pedram Shojai, author of The Art of Stopping Time wants to help you change your relationship with time. He offers the goal of his book as guiding the reader towards time prosperity. It’s a lofty goal, but worth examining once you recognize the stress, disease, and spinning caused by our current relationship to time.
A former Taoist monk, now a Doctor of Oriental Medicine and a Qi Gong master, Shojai bases his book on a practice called a 100-Day Gong. Based on an ancient Chinese practice, it’s designed to have you set aside a certain amount of time every day for a certain task. The beauty of the short practices he offers is that they are designed to take the place of something you are already doing. As you move through the 100 days, some practices will stay with you, some will fall away. The idea is that by the end of your 100-day gong, you will have built into your days enough routines that will ultimately change the way you relate to time.
If you feel like you are not on friendly terms with the minutes that fill your day, try incorporating some of these practices to come back to relating to them in a way that feels sane:
- Assemble your life garden. Look at what is important to you; it could be family, friends, career, health, music, or any number of things. List them and consider how much energy, time, and focus or in other words, the amount of “water” each of them needs to grow. Consider which of these important values before saying yes to anything new. You may already have to remove some of the things you are currently “watering” because they don’t actually fall into one of these realms. Pruning your garden will get easier the more you do it.
- Bird watching. Take a few moments today, when you might otherwise be doing something mindlessly, and go outside to become aware of the birds. Start by listening to their different songs, and expand your listening to all the sounds around you. Settle into your breath and relax into the experience of sitting. Notice if the songs seem close or far away, happy or distressed.
- Cutting people who suck your time. Make of list of everyone you spend time with—at work, at home, and everywhere in between. Notice where your time accumulates, and with whom. Consider if these interactions are promoting growth or stagnation. Some people just need to vent, and some are in the habit of dumping on those around them. Make conscious choices of who you spend time with, and be proactive about how you spend that time.
You have the ability to bring peace back into your day. It will take consistent effort and attention, but it will certainly be easier than trying to drag your way through another week, another day, another year, with the moments disappearing seemingly into thin air. These moments come only once. We get to choose to make the most of them.