Breaking Up With Time
There's something about our culture that has made us utterly obsessed with the concept of time. Schedules, meetings, work hours, meal times, workout times, it's like every component of our lives revolves around numbers on a clock.
I recently found myself in a horrible loop of constantly checking the time and deciding what to do in any given moment based on what time it was. This actually limited me greatly to living presently because I was always focused on what I needed/wanted/should to do in the next half hour, hour or more. Instead of living presently, I was unconsciously living in the unpredictable future.
Then, I came across a podcast in which they mentioned the concept of time and how odd it is that our society has amplified it so much to be such a necessity. If you think about it, how many aspects of your day rely on the numbers that show up on your phone, computer, iPad, desktop, microwave, stove, watch...shall I go on?
Yet, if the concept of time were eliminated, you would still know what time of the day it is. You would know as the sun rises that it is early morning, and when the sun is at its peak, it's around noon. Likewise, when the sun sets and the moon arises, it is the evening. Isn't that enough? Why are we so obsessed with the concept of time? Of "putting in the hours" which can mostly consist of scrolling through social media or unfocused, slow work. We were raised to believe that it is rude to show up two minutes late to a meeting, and that we are taught to eat three times a day around the same time. But checking your phone or watch every few moments, doesn't that completely take you away from what's currently happening around you?
If you leave to walk to a meeting, for example, are you going to check your phone every 5 minutes to make sure you're not late, or are you going to enjoy the walk and know that you'll get there as soon as your feet will take you there.
I personally have decided to break up with time. I no longer have the time up on my microwave and stove, and I no longer set an alarm to wake up in the morning. When you do have time obligations, set an alarm on your phone for 15-20 minutes before so you're not checking the time constantly in the moments in between.
If you have to wake up at a certain time for work, train your body to start waking up at that time. It's actually a lot easier than you might think, it just requires going to bed 8 hours before you want to wake up and telling yourself before you go to sleep that you want to wake up at 6am, for example. I personally tend to go to sleep around 10:30 and wake up at 6:30, feeling my best and most awake without being startled and anxiety-driven by an alarm. Waking up to an alarm from a deep sleep is an awful way to start the day as you will feel startled and it will take you some time to calm down again.
I also used to make sure I was at my desk by 9am to start working, but letting go of the concept of time has allowed me to sit at my desk whenever I feel ready and focused, which tends to be around 8:30am. I think if we stopped putting so much pressure around the concept of time on a day-to-day basis, we would actually get a lot more done and anxiety would significantly decrease because we're not living into the future - which is what causes anxiety in the first place.
If you're interested in letting go of time, start small because remember you have been living this way for years now. I am still by no means good at letting go of time just yet, but every day I find myself relaxing a little bit more around the topic. It could be as simple as putting your phone away at work until lunch and not checking the time in between. Hide your clock on your computer, and take the time off of your appliances in your home. Listen to when your body is telling you it is hungry, instead of eating just because it is "time for lunch".
The next time you have an appointment or meeting, set an alarm to leave 5-10 minutes earlier, and try as hard as you can to be present in your trip there. Things that help to be present include noticing the smell of the air, the feeling of the sun on your skin, deep breathing and watching the world around you in all its little miracles; the birds, the squirrels, the dogs, the trees, notice it all.
The more you start to do this day-to-day, the more you can start letting go of the concept of time and enjoy your life for what it is right now. Nothing else in your life exists other than this exact moment, right now. Do you want to spend that moment thinking about another moment that hasn't come by yet or do you want to fully embrace this present moment knowing that the future is unpredictable? The choice is yours.