From Chronos to Kairos Time

From Chronos to Kairos Time

How to Live in the Now Without Negating Past or Future


Having trouble being here now? Maybe you’re trying to tell the wrong kind of time.

In 1997, Eckhart Tolle shook the world with his extraordinary book The Power of Now. Long before that, Ram Dass’s Be Here Now was the bible for many spiritual seekers. These days, you can’t attend a yoga class, sit for meditation, or read a spiritual book without receiving advice to be in the moment.

[Ram Dass on: “Different Ways to Work With the Universe.”]

Naturally, we hear this sage wisdom and want to experience the power of the present for ourselves. And so, we try to block out the past and refuse thoughts of the future. Yet, most of us don’t succeed at this for more than a few seconds. This leaves us frustrated, wondering why we can’t access the great “now” for ourselves.

The problem isn’t us. It’s that we’re trying to find this mystical moment in the wrong kind of time.

Chronos and Kairos

The ancient Greeks identified two kinds of time. Chronos time presides over dates, clocks, calendars, and appointments. It is linear, divided, and quantitative. This kind of time allows for definitive beginnings and endings. It’s the kind of time we’re most familiar with.

[Read: “Balancing Your Life Calendar: Appointments & Disappointments.”]

The second is kairos time. Kairos is a Greek word that means “opportune.” This kind of time is eternal, limitless, and infinite. Kairos is the time of the gods and all celestial beings. It is all-time, meaning that it holds the past, the present, and the future (what Tom Wolfe called “the supreme moment”). Kairos time is like the ouroboros, the snake holds its own tail in its mouth representing the truth that every ending is a new beginning, and every beginning was birthed out of some other ending.

Remembering Your Kairos Time

We’ve all experienced kairos time at some point. These are the moments when the laws that usually govern our everyday life—such as how long healing takes or how strong or fast we are—vanish. These are the moments when time seems to stop, and we suddenly have access to gifts that could not have emerged from our experience in chronos time.

If you can’t think of anything recently, think back to when you were a child, back to the days when the afternoons lasted forever, and when it was painfully difficult to pull yourself away from your play when you were called for dinner. Calendars, dates, and appointments mean nothing to children. They live in a different world.

But children grow older, go to school, and slowly get habituated to living in chronos time. They learn how to break up their lives into segments called hours or days, and gradually lose access to the magic of kairos. Some grow into adults who forget that this sacred time even exists.

Yet, it’s vital to remember kairos time, because when you’re in it, you feel connected to all the things and people of the universe—past, present, and future. Kairos time connects you to all the knowledge and wisdom of the cosmos, rethreads your connection to your intuition, and reunites you with your soul.

How to Access Kairos Time

Author and mythologist Michael Meade says that kairos time happens when chronos “breaks open.” Illnesses, accidents, and deaths are well known to have this power, as are moments of bliss, surprise, and delight. But are these the only avenues into kairos?

You can’t simply demand your way to this opportune time. What you can do is put yourself in a mindset of receptivity in which kairos might very well open and rain down its gifts.

Kairos relief
Kairos relief

Here are seven practices that knock on the door of Kairos time and may open portals to it.

Sacred Gatherings

When you gather in groups around a singular intention, you immediately change the quality of the time you’re in from mundane to sacred. So, the next time you’re in a gathering of spiritually minded people, notice how the feeling shifts into a more circular, eternal kind of time.


Unlike indigenous and ancient cultures, modern Western culture doesn’t offer many rites of passage or initiations as we shift from one life stage to another, especially once we’re adults. Instead, we’re taught to move from one role to the next while pretending that it doesn’t change or affect us. Or we hide internal shifts and transitions for fear that no one will understand. We all know that in the chronos mindset, time marches on, and everyone’s primary job is to keep the treadmill going.

But, when you resist this expectation to just move on and instead pause to recognize the importance of these events, you open a portal to kairos time. There, you can see the transitions in your life as the magical and sacred events they are.

You don’t need any fancy items or knowledge to add ceremony to your life and turn the mundane into something sacred and transformative. You need only four things:

  • A recognition of the change.
  • A place to perform it (can be anywhere, as long as you designate it a sacred space).
  • Words or actions to be performed during the ceremony. This can be as a reading, a candle-lighting, or some other personal touch to acknowledge the change.
  • A closing, to seal in your intentions and move mindfully back to chronos time.

Silence and Retreat

True silence is hard to find in our society. There’s always something—a phone buzzing, a car driving by, a dog barking. But, if you commit to getting away from it all and sit in true silence, you might be catapulted into a state of mind in which you receive clarity and wisdom that is not accessible in the busy day-to-day.

The things that benefit human beings the most—clarity, understanding, reflection, connection, awareness—are rarely available in their truest form in chronos time. Only by leaving the ticking clock and moving into a different space of awareness can we hear the smaller voice within us.

The Dream World

Dreams take place in kairos time. And just as the language of dreams is metaphor and symbol, so is the language of kairos time. By paying more attention to your dreams—keeping a dream journal, exploring their meanings—you are flirting with the world of kairos.

Likewise, you can power your imagination in daydreaming. The imagination is the place where the impossible becomes possible—as such, it is a bridge to the time of no limits or rules. Take a trip in the vehicle of your imagination! If you want some guidance, there are many audios available for active imagination practices.

Yoga Nidra

As a guided meditation and relaxation practice that takes you through the koshas, or the layers of the body, yoga nidra can carry you from the seen and felt (our physical skin, clothing, bones) all the way to your soul, which exists in the eternal kairos time.

Fairy Tales and Myths

Symbolic stories aren’t just for children. They transcend time and space to share wisdom and lessons. It doesn’t matter whether you’re reading a great Roman myth or Little Red Riding Hood.—time-tested fairy tales and myths transport you and shift your consciousness into kairos time, where all of the characters live within you and point you toward your inner truth.


Nature lives by kairos time—not by a paper calendar but the sacred cycle of birth, death, and rebirth. Therefore, when you lean against a tree, listen to the songs of the birds, or watch the waves crash on an ocean beach, you’re transported to the time with no end.

The Endless Benefits of Kairos Time

By entering kairos time more regularly in your life, you can live with more appreciation and fewer regrets. Whether you’re thinking of the past, the present, or the future, kairos time allows you to enjoy life and grow capacities for healing, wholeness, connection, empathy, and understanding at a depth you could never reach merely obeying the rules of chronos.

Once you shift your consciousness to kairos time, you no longer have to juggle the past, the present, and the future, because all time lives together harmoniously and simultaneously there. When you can embrace the lessons and wisdom of the past while imagining and creating the future, you know you’re truly living in the now.

Got a bit more time? Discover how windshield time is sacred time on car trips.

Kairos time

Enjoying this content?

Get this article and many more delivered straight to your inbox weekly.