Have you ever stopped and considered what this thing we call time is and what role it plays in your life? Well I have and the results of that contemplation have changed my life. You see, the more I contemplate time the more I realize that it doesn’t exist in and of itself. It is man made or rather mind made. As I sit here writing this the clock on my computer reads 10:38pm but that is just the play of light and patterns on a computer screen, a collection of numbers for my mind to interpret in some way. Is time just the read-out on a clock? No matter what time the clock says I always look at it now. We normally think of time in terms of its measurements; years, months, days, weeks, hours and minutes. These however are just labels some of which roughly relate to natural phenomena such as a revolution of the earth on its axis or one of its orbits around the sun but nature delineates no such measurements. Day does not stop and become night, day flows into night and night flows into day. Our minds create the boundaries.
On a broader scale we relate to time in terms of past, present and future which we imagine as a linear time line, similar to a number line in mathematics. In this view, time progresses from past to present to future in a linear manner. However has any one of us ever had an actual experience of either the past or future? The answer is of course No, how could we? When we relate to the past we are calling up memories in our minds which take the form of thoughts which exist in the present moment. Similarly when we think of the future we are using our imagination and creating stories of what may happen, again thoughts existing in the present moment. Can you ever have an experience that is not based in the present moment? If so I’d sure like to hear about it. You can say – well I did the dishes a couple hours ago and they are done now and when I go to the sink it is empty, I did the dishes in the past. But thats not really true, you did the dishes in the present moment and you remember doing them in the present moment and the sink is empty and clean in the present moment. The phenomenon of the dishes has changed but it has all taken place in the NOW.
If the truth is that you can only have an experience in the present moment then what does this suggest with regard to time? I would say that it suggests that time is a function of the human mind and does not have any real existence outside of it. Time is a projection of the mind onto the the limitless NOW so that it can try and make some sense out of the unfathomable. One universal aspect of the present moment is the law of change. Every phenomena in the universe is subject to the process of change so time becomes a way for the mind to conceptualize change. For us to function on the physical plane we need the mind and we need rational thought so the concept of time is not really problematic, it is in fact a very useful tool. It can help us coordinate a meeting with our friend at a cafe for lunch or predict when it will get dark.
However time has a darker side where it can become a prison which we unwittingly confine ourselves in. A problem emerges when we fail to see that time is an illusion of the mind and instead see it as an external reality that we must conform to and live by. The very function of time as implemented by the mind is to compartmentalize limitless reality into chunks that the mind is capable of processing. While this can be useful at times, if we live our lives from this perspective the result is that we are cut off from the gift that the limitless Now has to offer, and that gift is infinite possibility. Our reality becomes limited and our creative ability and power become equally limited. This results in struggle and suffering because it is not our natural state. We struggle to make life work through just a few channels of expression instead of the infinite ways that are available in full presence.
Living in the present moment requires living free of time. Living free of time requires seeing its nature, seeing its function and seeing its limitations. We can then choose to ground our everyday experience into the present moment and take advantage of the magic that is possible when we step into our higher expanded selves. Time can be used as a tool when necessary to interact with certain elements of the physical world but we no longer live by it or structure our lives according to it. We also become free of two of the most significant aspects of our suffering, our painful stories of the past and our fear of the future. Our stories become less substantial when we see they only exist because we are carrying them actively right now, they don’t represent truth or reality because they are only impressions of experience in thought from one perspective. We also need not fear the future because we can see that that too is just a story taking place now and has no reality. What we think, feel, believe and do RIGHT NOW is reality and is what creates our world.
I’ll use my own example to conclude this post. I’ve resolved to live as fully in the present moment as I can because I sense and feel its power and freedom and believe that a whole new life is possible if I let go of my self-created limitations. This has been very challenging and painful because the conditioning of time runs deep and there is an incredible fear or anxiety around letting go of it because it means our lives are lived fully in the unknown. The unknown is unmanifested possibility. We then have to trust the universe, something else we’re hesitant to do because we’re taught to fear it as harsh and punishing. I’ve ceased planning most of my activities because when I plan for the future I limit myself to one possibility which may not be the appropriate one in the moment. When you let go of planning your life does not fall apart and you discover something very powerful, synchronicity. However letting go of planning requires making many changes including possibly changing your way of earning a living, your relationships (some people won’t approve of your living this way) and your routines. This does not mean you have no direction and instead of plans you have intentions which are similar except that they contain space and do not produce expectations. We allow for change and resolve to accept the reality of the moment and work with it rather than against it. The main thing it requires is surrendering to the reality of the present moment, trusting it and letting yourself live a more expanded more fully alive life which is your birthright….