One of the great lessons of practicing Mindfulness is that time expands when we allow ourselves to experience the fullness of exactly what we are doing in each moment. This life is to be lived, to be fully experienced, and to be enjoyed. When we feel rushed or overwhelmed by our massive “to-do” lists, we cannot be in the moment, and we permit external factors to dictate how we feel about the time we have to spend in this brief life. When one says, “I don’t have time…,” one negates not only the possibility of that for which one proclaims one doesn’t have time (self-care, meditation, yoga, exercise, fun, whatever…), but also the present moment in which one is living. In all likelihood, the words “I don’t have time… ” are uttered in a state of anxiousness. The words “I don’t have time” shrink one’s perception of what is possible. When our minds feel hectic, running this way and that, we are typically not even fully present for that which we hold up as the reason for which we “have no time.” And, we certainly diminish the potential for enjoyment of it.
Most everyone perceives time differently in different moments. Our perception of time is far from consistently linear, although we tend to view it as such. When we are experiencing complete enjoyment, we luxuriate in a feeling of timelessness. When we experience boredom, time feels oppressive. When we believe we have to rush through this moment in order to get to something we believe is beyond this moment, time seems to narrow and diminish just when we believe we need it most. Our experience of time is anchored in our perception of it. Change the perception, and you change the experience.
If you find yourself saying “I don’t have time…,” it is helpful to check in with your breath. Long, slow, deep breaths taken in full awareness are like a deep reset button, facilitating a calming response in the body. When we are in a calm state of mind, time feels different. It feels expansive. When we are in a calm state of mind, we do in full awareness and control. A practice of meditation helps greatly, because it trains the mind to be aware of its state. As soon as one feels hectic, one notices. When a practitioner of meditation utters the words, “I don’t have time,” he will probably notice how restrictive and anxious those words feel. Noticing helps, because the sooner down the road of anxiety that one can start calming the body/mind via the breath, the lesser degree of anxiety that wells up.
An affirmation that I have found particularly helpful is “Time is expansive and abundant. I allow time to expand.” When I say those words, I feel more in control of my life and my choices. I allow myself to breathe and to experience time afresh. I feel more fully located in this moment. And, I feel more empowered to spend my precious time in this life in activities that result in my highest good, the highest good of others, the greatest creativity, and the most enjoyment.