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By Tom Evans, ABP Conference Speaker 2013
Over the last decade or so, something insidious has sneaked into our lives and that is the notion that the world has gone 24×7.
With 24 hour news and the ubiquity of the Internet, nothing switches off any more, often including us. We can easily end up checking emails last thing at night and first thing in the morning. With Twitter, Facebook and the next big thing open all hours of the day, there is no hiding place and no way of stopping the world if we want to get off.
When time pressure is applied to us at school, through our working lives and to retirement, how can we hope for respite?
Well there’s several simple ways to get time back under our control. I’ll mention just two in this intentionally short article – as you might be too busy to read more!
It’s worth noting that neuroscientists haven’t exactly found an area in our brain that governs the passage of time. In short, this is because time is subjective. If you have read all the magazines in a doctor’s waiting room and your appointment is delayed, minutes stretch into hours. Conversely, weekends with family and friends can zoom by with Monday coming around all too soon.
Time is largely man-made and even our calendars give an erratic representation of the passage of time with their uneven months. We judge the passage of time by the ticking of external clocks which, incidentally, is why there aren’t any in Las Vegas casinos.
So the first way to claw back time is to slow our breathing down. If we breathe more slowly, quite simply the perceived passage of time slows down and our days stretch out so we can get more done in less time.
We’re not aware of our breathing all the time. Increase your awareness of your breathing by taking between five and nine deep in-breaths at the start of each day, breathing out for about four times as long as the duration of the in-breath. After a while, this daily practice leaks into your whole day and you will end up naturally breathing slower and deeper. This is something that works in group meetings too.
It’s Mad Not to Meditate
Once we get to trust how such a simple technique benefits our days, the next step might at first sound counterintuitive. Ideally at the start of each day, take 10-20 minutes out of your day in some form of meditative or reflective practice.
This doesn’t mean sitting in a dark cave chanting “OM”. Just going for a walk in a park counts or even indulging in a creative task like writing or doodling. Taking up yoga or Tai Chi are also great ways to do this.
When I first started meditating over ten years ago, I thought I was far too busy to waste time and there was no way I could make my mind switch off. Nowadays, I know that I can have a much more productive and serendipitous day by indulging in a bit of ‘me time’.
It’s also thought that every minute we spend in meditation gets added to our longevity anyway. If true, you get the time back and it’s kind of mad not to do it.
About the author
Author, bookwright and creative catalyst Tom Evans is the creator of ‘Bending Time and Bending Space’, author of ‘This We Know’, ‘Flavours of Thought’, ‘Planes of Being’, ‘Blocks’ and ‘The Art and Science of Light Bulb Moments’.
If you’ve enjoyed this article and would like to hear more, Tom will be speaking at the 2013 Annual ABP Conference on Friday 4th October, Wokefield Park, Reading. To find out more about the conference and Tom’s session click here for more information.
You can also find some free audio visualisations on Tom’s web site to help you zone out so you can zone in – visit http://www.tomevans.co/