Time is a bit of a bugbear, isn’t it? There is either not enough of it or it passes too slowly. Time rules our lives – something has to be done by a particular date or a certain hour. We go about life with one eye on the clock or our watch, or perhaps more these days on our phone. Does this near-obsession improve our quality of life? Of course it doesn’t, and in fact it leaches the quality right out of it.
But surely we need time to organise our lives?
It would be very naive to suggest we could live without time altogether. Once, people lived according to natural rhythms and cycles, as animals and plants do. But modern society has to organise itself, so calendars, schedules, clocks and appointments will probably always be with us. Unfortunately, they can also put us under pressure and it is that – our attitude to the passing minutes, hours and days – that is the problem.
The more we do, and the faster we do it, the less happy we are
Quality of life is not about having or doing more but about satisfaction and fulfilment. The more deeply we experience life, the more fulfilling it is. We may get a temporary buzz from the achievement of doing a lot of things in a short space of time, but in terms of consciousness, it is very shallow.
Do I allow myself time to appreciate drinking a cup of tea or do I take quick sips from my mug while doing something else? Time management might suggest the latter is more efficient, and that may well be our habit. But in doing two or more things at once, we lose the precious gift that those moments are offering us. Instead of gaining, we literally rob ourselves of time.
Take a step back – out of time
Our natural state of consciousness is free and rather like space without any boundaries. It is beyond all concepts, including time. It is simply presence.
Consciousness is like a screen onto which the appearances of daily life, together with our thoughts and emotions, are all projected like a film show or a movie. When we get drawn into them, as we usually do, the concept of time appears. But with presence, time stands still. Fully conscious, we step out of time.
So if I’m fully present, I’ll live longer? Maybe, but that isn’t the point
It is generally recognised that high levels of stress can reduce life expectancy. When we live with full awareness, our stress levels drop immensely. That may or may not affect the length of life in the conventional sense. Quality of life will improve immensely, though.
But should we consider our lifespan anyway? As soon as we think in terms of “how long will I live?”, we have lost our presence. Let’s face it, there are just too many other factors, such as general health, the quality of the air we breathe and so on.
With full awareness, there is no concept of long or short. Lifespan ceases to matter. We simply are. Life just is, and life is full. No matter what, we are free. Unless we keep our eye on the clock, that is.
Thanks for reading this. This subject is explored in greater depth in my book The Art of Not Doing