The human race is absolutely inundated with markings of time. Clocks and calendars are everywhere you turn, telling you the second, minute, hour, day, week, month, year, and so on. All of these demarcations of time are pretty much wherever you turn.
It feels very, very real. You have clocks and calendars in your head. Appointments are set at a specific time. Birthdays, anniversaries, holidays and the like are instances where time is set and fixed.
Would you believe that it truly is an illusion? Time, as we note it, mark, and follow it, is totally artificial?
Well, it is. Plain and simple, the minutes and hours as we note them are not the truth of time. They are man-made constructs that dictate so many aspects of our lives that it’s frankly surreal.
How is this possible? Time must be a real thing, as denoted by the clocks and calendars all around you.
Except that time, in this format, is completely made up.
The proof is right there in the idea and practice of Daylight Savings Time.
The evidence is right in front of you
Does the whole world practice Daylight Savings Time (DST)? No. Sure, most of Europe and North America practice DST — but the largest populations in the world in Asia (i.e. India and China) do not. Neither does most of South America. Even in the USA, the state of Arizona doesn’t observe DST, either.
Why? Because this is an artificial, manmade concept. DST is the shifting of clocks forward an hour in the spring and back again in the fall to “save” or expand the hours of daylight.
Really? Expand the hours of daylight? The time between sunrise and sunset? How can you make that a thing?
You can’t — every single day the sun will rise in the morning and set in the evening. The second, minute, and hour that this occurs is a completely manmade, artificial entity.
This is a part of the grand illusion. Further, WHEN you start to observe DST in the nations that do is variable.
I mean, really, how much more evidence do you need that time in this demarcation is a complete and utter illusion?
Our concept of time is based on made-up notions. For example, who decided what that which we call one second of time is? A mathematician in the 17th century. We know people lived long, long before the 1640s. They lived without this “knowledge.”
How did they live without knowing time to the second?
Natural markers of time
There are two clear, very specific, real, natural mechanisms that mark the passage of time in any way. The sun and the moon.
The sun marks the days. It rises and sets, even when you cannot see it behind clouds or fog. You know that it is light and that tells you that it is daytime.
The position of the sun can tell you where in the day you are. As it moves across the sky, east to west, you know from its position if you are early in the day, at its midpoint, or late in the day.
When the sun sets you get the moon. As the moon phases, that tells you a broader cycle of time that the sunlit days pass between. We have come to call them months, but more than that they can also indicate the passage of time between seasons.
Three cycles of the moon pass during each season.
Other natural phenomena are indicative of the time of the change of seasons. Heat and sunlight of summer; colorful leaves of fall; cold and snows of winter; the rain and bloom of spring.
Are these what we use to commonly measure time? Nope. Instead, we rely on clocks and calendars — which are utterly, completely, and totally artificial.
Thus, time — as we mark it, see it, feel it, and know it — IS an illusion.
Why does that matter? Because you can choose not to be a slave to time.
How to stop being time’s fool
For around 15 years, I didn’t wear a watch.
Before that this was a frequent occurrence. I wore a watch every day and had an almost permanent tan line on my wrist where my watch lived.
Then I realized how frequently I glanced at my wrist. It felt as if I was enslaved to this device, and I wondered if it would make a difference in my life if I stopped wearing it.
So I did. And I found that during that period my refusal to be so enslaved to the second, minute and hour kept my days moving along with far less stress or urgency.
No, I didn’t completely ignore time. I had my phone close at hand, but I wasn’t checking it constantly like I had been always looking at my watch.
Four or five years ago, though, I acquired a Fitbit. The health tracker was also a watch. More often than not I was checking it to look in on my total steps or see if my resting heart rate was where I preferred it to be. But, again, there was a readily accessible watch.
Two weeks ago my Fitbit died. While I like having the fitness tracker, and miss being able to see my resting heart and steps easily, I am feeling a sense of relief that the artificial demarcation of time in seconds, minutes, and hours is less easily encountered.
Admittedly, there are many times where “time” in its illusionary sense is required — but mostly that’s for outside interactions. I need to be at work at a certain time, fencing practice happens at a definitive hour, and I have appointments with others at a specific time to be kept.
But this illusionary time, for MY life, need not be so rigidly observed.
Mindfulness and the illusion of time
When you practice mindfulness, time as you know it tends to become even more clearly illusionary. Why? Because mindfulness puts you in the here-and-now.
When you are in the now you can much more readily feel how time in other forms is an illusion. For example, past and future are also illusions in the demarcation of time.
How? Because while past events have already occurred, often your memory and recollection of them get colored by your personal biases, experiences, beliefs, ideals, and so on. Hence why people get back into bad relationships or remain in terrible jobs — because they focus on the good instead of the bad happenings.
Similarly, the future is based on speculation and is also colored by not just your biases, experiences, beliefs, ideals, and so on — but also by your thoughts, feelings, and actions in the now. The present, in some respects more than the past, colors the future.
Mindfulness and the awareness of your thoughts, feelings, and actions is a thing of the present. It is a practice wholly in the now.
Living in the moment
Apart from the naturally occurring markers of time that are the sun, moon, and seasons, the now is the only REAL time that isn’t an illusion.
Being aware of what you are thinking, what and how you are feeling, and the intent of your actions in the now is mindfulness. It shows you that all of these markers we call time are artificial — because this moment is the full-on, genuine, absolute certainness of reality.
The more I work with this, the more I believe that adopting a now-centric approach to time can be positive, empowering, and otherwise healthy for the mind, body, and soul. That allows me to be more myself, to be free — and that opens me up to amazing possibilities and potential.
You are also similarly empowered. When you start seeing time as we know it for the illusion that it is, you will see that you can make more of who you are right now — or whenever you choose to do so.
What will you do with this knowledge?
You are worthy and deserving of using mindfulness to find and/or create the reality in which you desire to live. When all is said and done you and I matter, and that empowers us to do virtually anything.