I've decided to shine the spotlight on some long-held beliefs about time that have done nothing to enhance my quality of life.
These beliefs (and a belief is simply a thought that you think over and over) include -- and I've italicized the words that can instantly suck the life force out of me:
"There are not enough hours in the day ..." "Everything always takes longer than you think." "It's so hard to fit ______ (stretching, walking, meditation, writing, meaningful correspondence with friends, etc.) into my existing schedule."
In one form or another, they flash across the screen of my conscious mind several times a day like those split-second subliminal messages aimed at people absorbed by the action and dialogue on a TV or movie screen.
"Not enough hours." "Everything always takes longer." "It's so hard." Those pesky little mantras can make it nigh impossible for me to "dance my day" with ease and grace (a concept I learned from Kate Kelly, my beloved coach and ADD expert, who passed away last September). They are like an uninvited dance partner with two left feet who cuts in and messes up the flow of my dance.
There's no arguing that time is certainly a mysterious thing, seeming to go faster or slower when we least want it to. Philosophers and physicists have taught that linear time is an illusion, yet we humans are obsessed by the need to measure and "manage" time, creating all manner of calendars, clocks, and the like. We're the only members of the natural world who require external timepieces to navigate our way through life. Animals and plants honor their own inborn circadian rhythms that respond to natural light, temperature, and tides (the rhythm of the Earth), and act accordingly. They don't think about time. They don't fuss or panic about their mortality or running out of linear time because they are so perfectly present to life in the Now.
And the Zen folk are right on the money about mindfulness -- Be Here Now -- being the best antidote to the stress we create for ourselves by being slaves to calendars, clocks, and the belief that there's not enough time.
Mindfulness is all about perception. When I catch myself getting stressed about not getting enough done in the time I allotted or because I'm running late, I shift my perception. Instead of feeling pressured, squeezed, and contracted by time, I imagine myself feeling time and space expand and seeing each task or appointment as a singular entity surrounded by lots and lots of room. It's remarkable how quickly I can go from feeling anxious to being calmly yet fully focused and present to each component of my day.
And, magically, I get more done.