Despite the labels we put on time — it is almost entirely made up of individual perceptions.
That’s why an hour doing something dull and unpleasant can seem to stretch on interminably while an hour doing something you enjoy can seem to pass in an instant.
That’s the reality of time. It’s not the seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, and similar specifics we give to it. Time in its most pure form is fluid, formless, and malleable.
Modern society is positively obsessed with time. We keep it, focus on it, argue about it, and allow it to dictate vast swaths of our lives.
The truth, however, is that time is not so rigid. Despite its numerous labels, the reality of it is that it’s yours and mine to control.
When you recognize this, you can work with it and take control over time rather than allowing time to control you.
How does this work? Mindfulness, of course.
Mindfulness and time
The more I explore mindfulness, the more nuanced I realize it to be.
There are three distinct levels of mindfulness. At its deepest depths are our beliefs, habitual behaviors, and all the experiences of our lives that have made us in who we are. Much of this tends to exist on a subconscious level — but it is part of mindfulness because it is, ultimately, you.
The next layer up is your mindset/headspace/psyche. This is the part of mindfulness that is thinking thoughts and feeling feelings ALL THE TIME. It’s how you approach the world overall. You, in your head, mindfully have chosen how you approach life. This is where applied positivity becomes a choice.
To get into these deeper layers, you need to start on the surface. That is present, conscious recognition of your thoughts, feelings, actions, and intentions. Being aware of what you are thinking, how and what you are feeling, the actions you take, and the intentions behind them direct your life.
How does this link mindfulness with time? Your approach to it. Are you always in a hurry? Constantly putting out fires and taking care of emergencies? Or do you allow yourself space to move at your own pace and get and stay ahead of the potential emergencies?
To be fair, outside influences will impact this. However, there is a danger of blaming outside influences when you have your own internal rushing, hurrying, and impatience inside your mindset/headspace/psyche. To quote Lao Tzu:
“Time is a created thing. To say ‘I don’t have time,’ is like saying, ‘I don’t want to.”
It’s all about your perception
Not so long ago, keeping time as we do today wasn’t a thing.
Presently, it is possible to measure time with a precision that boggles the mind. From its smallest measurement (Planck length) to its greatest measurement (supereon) it has been divided, categorized, labeled, and explained.
This is the deepest logic of science. Your perception of time recognizes none of this.
Before this knowledge, the measurement of time mostly involved the rising and setting of the sun and moon and the changing seasons. As the sun rose in the east and set in the west you had a day. The phases of the moon gave you a month. It was a lot simpler.
This is an easier gauge of time to follow. Day and night are obvious. But all the rest of it — which we obsess over — is nonsensical. It’s a matter of how you perceive it.
That’s why some moments feel as if they draw on interminably, others too quickly. Likewise, some moments are over blessedly fast while others can be savored and enjoyed for their slow passing.
It’s all about perception. How you perceive reality ties directly into your perception of time.
As Einstein said,
“Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.”
He also said,
“Time is an illusion.”
In other words, time and your perception of it belong to you alone. Thus, you can change them.
You can take control of this
Via the practice of mindfulness, you have the power to gain control over numerous aspects of time.
How? By being aware.
When you practice mindfulness, the surface elements are the most readily accessible. Right now, in this moment, you can be conscious of your thoughts, feelings, actions, and intentions. That awareness tells you what and who you are in the present. As such, it empowers you to change it.
When you are more aware of yourself you become more aware of your time. How you are using it and what you are doing with it becomes a part of your focus. Are you making good use of it or not?
What a good use of your time is may not be what a good use of mine is. This, like reality itself, is a part of our individual perceptions of life, the Universe, and everything.
If you have a job you love involving internet research, then hours combing the web is time well spent. If, on the other hand, you have a job that’s death-by-a-thousand-paper-cuts boring, hours combing the internet is likely time wasted. Perception of this is wholly individual.
Recognizing this is not easy. A huge part of this comes from the vast, almost surreal amount of outside influences on our lives. So many people and things tell us about how time should be used and spent. There are expectations, notions, and impressions that get based on time, then they get used to determine good, bad, and indifferent.
Further, because other people tend to affect you and your time, they can voluntarily and involuntarily impact what you do with it.
When you recognize the fluidity of time and your perception of it, you can choose its usage.
Controlling time is in your power
You have more power over time than you realize. When you acknowledge that it’s illusionary and based on your perception of it you gain influence and control over it.
As Khalil Gibran said in The Prophet,
“The timeless in you is aware of life’s timelessness. And knows that yesterday is but today’s memory and tomorrow is today’s dream.”
Practicing mindfulness allows you to alter time and your perception of it.
This ties into positivity. How? Because when there are things you must do of necessity that you would rather not, you can decide to approach them from a place of positivity or negativity.
This is why anticipation of a bad time tends to draw it out. It makes you anxious, frustrated, and uncomfortable.
Currently, between COVID-19 and the contentious election — uncertainty dominates virtually all our perceptions.
When you are aware of this you empower yourself to control it. You can alter your perception, your approach, and how it will impact you. There is nothing you can do about anyone else and how they waste your time or interfere with what you are working on doing. But control over yourself and your time — and its usage — belong entirely to you.
Pause. Take a moment to breathe. Align the surface layers of mindfulness with where you are and where you desire to be and go. Time ties into this. When you are mindful of yourself you are more mindful of how you experience and use it.
You can use time or be used by it. What would you prefer? The answer is yours to choose.
Controlling time isn’t hard
But it does require mindfulness of your thoughts, feelings, actions, and intent.
Knowing that you perceive time differently from everyone else, you gain the perspective to take charge of and make use of time how best it suits you. When you take control of your time and don’t allow it to run away or overwhelm you — that ultimately empowers you.
When you feel empowered, your mindfulness increases, you become more aware overall, and that can spread to people around you. This can create a feedback loop of awareness and positivity.
You can build more positive feelings and discover further reasons to feel positivity and gratitude. That can be the impetus to improve numerous aspects of your life for the better, help overcome the overwhelming negativity of the current situation, and generate yet more positivity and gratitude.
An attitude of gratitude is an attitude of immense positivity. That positivity can generate even more good energies — and that, like you, is always worthwhile.
Thank you for reading. I am MJ Blehart. I write about mindfulness, conscious reality creation, positivity, and similar life lessons.
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Originally published at https://titaniumdon.com on October 19, 2020.