Are You Wasting Your Time?

At the start of everyday the universe gives you a cheque for time, that is 24 hours or 1440 minutes. The same happens everyday. That is 525,600 minutes per year or in a lifetime, if you live to ninety, and you probably will, a total of 47,304,000 minutes. What do you do with your time? Time can be invested well, producing great benefits (profits) or wasted creating negatives (losses) that then colour our experience and our wellbeing.

Time is the progression from what was, through what is, to what will be or, how we cope with past, present and future. However, time is a concept that does not really exist, or more accurately time is in the eye of the beholder. Our experience of time is relative. It depends on where we view it from.

The watched pot never boils

For most children time is a huge thing that lasts forever. It might be that feeling in school when we are waiting for the ‘home bell’ to sound the end of a seemingly endless day or the seemingly endless days of the summer vacation that were hot and sunny and went on forever. When we are children there seems to be so much to do and plenty of time to do it in. At this point the concepts of age and growing old are fantasies that belong to a future that we believe will never happen to us.

As we get into adolescence time pressures begin to occur. Perhaps we are warm in bed, having ‘wasted our time’ the night before, gone to bed late, and now we should be up and getting ready for school. Our mother is shouting up the stairs that we are late, will be late, miss the bus, no time for breakfast, and that we should have gone to bed earlier.

There does come a point when it feels that there are never enough hours in the day. The feeling is that the design is wrong; that twenty-four hours is never enough and thirty-six would have been a much better idea. Ask any busy mum trying to get the kids to school, the husband to work, do the washing, ironing, clean the house, all before the kids are back from school and then due at clubs and friends. The father juggling the needs of family, work, friends and so on. It appears that the day begins to shrink.

As we get older time flashes by faster and faster as “weeks turn into years, how quick the fly” (Bert Bacharach). It is always Monday and another week at work.

“Is it August already? It can’t be we’ve only just had `Christmas”

Every New Year is followed by another Christmas Eve and the years become decades as we transit from 20s to 30s to 40s. It is the ones with noughts on that now mark the passage of time. Sometimes the noughts are followed by depression as the experience of time passing becomes a fear that time will run out and it will be the end and a feeling of loss.

“What on earth have I done with my life?”

Actually it is not always true that time gets forever faster, there is a stop point. Many older people return to the experience of their childhood, not just in their memories but they begin to feel that everyday is lasting a life time. As a child this was an exciting experience that was full of things to learn and do, it was a world of discovery. In older life, for many, this expanse of time, rather than being a joy, becomes something to fear. Now it can feel that ‘it all’, time and life that is, now drag on forever. The elderly residential home can become like a waiting room full of people waiting wearily for their end.

It does not have to be this way

Here at Live In The Present we are forever banging on about things like ‘life time learning’. We live with the realisation that we will each only produce new brain cells in response to new learning and, at the point when we stop learning our system will fall into decline. The difference is that when we are learning we are occupied and when the mind is actively engaged time does not begin to drag or weigh on us, each moment is a joy of newness.

“Time is an illusion designed to explain the passages of history
History is an illusion designed to explain the passage of time”

Douglas Adams

Forget Einstein, the relativity of time is all in your head. Time is only ever the way that I experience it and your experience may/will be different to mine. Let’s say we go to a play at the theatre that you really, really want to see but I don’t. For you each minute of the performance will keep you engaged and the time will fly. For me, I don’t want to be here, I am hating every moment and the time drags painfully by. It can be the same on holidays and outings, Christmas and Easter, all these events are a joy or a curse depending on how we view them.

Living outside time

The present, the current moment, the now, is really all that there ever is. By the time you get to the end of this sentence the first word you read will be in the past, the full stop will be your present and, the next sentence will be the future. Your current breath is now, your last breath the past and the next breath your future. You current heart beat is the now, the last one your past and the next one your future.

Time is really a continual set of experiences of ‘now’ that when put together become our experience of past, present and future. There are many quantum scientists who would suggest that neither past nor future actually exist and that ‘Now’ is all that there is. It can all become a bit mind boggling.

Past and future

Those of us that do not live in the present moment are emotionally out of step with ourself. Those living in the negative past will be diagnosed with depression while those living in the negative future will be diagnosed with anxiety. Here come the happy pills.

Those able to live in the present will not be hampered by what was or be fearing what will be. Living in the present requires that we are in the ‘zone’. For some the zone will be something like meditation while for others it will be something more active like running. However, any task, even work, that we are fully engaged in, when we are truly present in the moment will, mean we are at our best, most efficient and potentially most happy and fulfilled.

Transcending time

When we transcend time we step out of time and space, this is known as a trance. We fall into a trance state when we are highly concentrated in the moment. Have you ever been reading a book and suddenly realised that time has passed by without you even realising it? Have you experienced your child watching TV who does not hear you when you shout out that their tea is ready? These are trance states. When we are highly concentrated in the moment, in the task, so that past and future are not impinging in the now, we are living in the present. In high states of concentration time, or the passage of time ceases to exist as we have moved into continuum of present.

This high concentration can be there when we are at work, at play, with our friends, family, making love, whatever, we are present to ourself in the moment, in the now.

Mindful meditation

To be the most effective and an efficient person you need to live in the present. Mindful meditation is the way I use to maintain my ability to be in my ‘now’. I use a ‘Vipassana’ style approach, which is also known as breath focus or body focus meditation taught under other names. Meditation is a process that allows you to let go of what was, also of what will be, and enter your present.

This involves:

Relaxation: a comfortable position in which you can relax your body without falling asleep
Contemplation: begin to focus your mind into breath/body awareness
Concentration: being able to hold single thought, focus or feeling without your mind wandering
Meditation: becoming so highly concentrated in the present that past and future no longer exist and in doing so all sense of yourself as a distinct individual ceases so that in this trance state you step out of time and space. This is also known as ‘self annihilation’.

Becoming a time lord

Dr Who was described as a time lord because he could travel through time. A real time lord is someone who is in control of their time world. When we are able to hold our concentration mindfully we are no longer controlled by time, we control it. As a time lord there is always enough time and time is never a burden and never drags.

The trick of being a time lord is to stay engaged in life, maintain life long learning, stay fit and healthy, have a positive attitude of gratitude and, live in the present.

Becoming a time lord is a choice. What will you choose to do with your 1440 minutes today?

Take care, be happy and, live you the present.

Sean x

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