“Slow down, you move too fast. You got to make the morning last.”-Simon and Garfunkel
Is time a mental construct that only carries the meaning we give to it or is it inherently meaningful? So much of our lives are measured and broken down into segments of seconds, minutes, hours and days, weeks, months, and years. What we fill those increments with is what either uplifts us or drags us down into the pits of despair.
The mother of a workaholic, multi-tasker used to remind her, “The hurrier I go, the behinder I get.” What she noticed is that when she slowed her pace, she accomplished more. These days, she has become more methodical and purposeful, even reminding herself aloud to coast rather than constantly pedal. It echoes Aesop’s fable of the Tortoise and the Hare, “Slow and steady wins the race.”
Is it really possible to slow down time? From a purely scientific perspective, not likely, unless you are living in the movie The Matrix. People have noted experiences where time seems to have slowed and they have had an opportunity to witness and act in dangerous situations. One such incident was relayed by someone who was at the literal ‘right place/right time’. She was driving up the ramp onto the George Washington Bridge, crossing over from NY to NJ when she witnessed a car side swipe an armored car and keep on going. The armored car swerved to the right and launched onto the guard rail, with two wheels hanging over the edge closest to the road and two hovering over, perilously close to plummeting down at least 50 feet to the street below. She watched, incredulous as it appeared to occur in slo-mo. She held up her hand and yelled, “No! Stop!” What seemed like an eternity later, but was likely only a flash, the driver righted the vehicle and it landed, all four wheels on the asphalt and he was able to move it over to relative safety. The woman pulled up behind them and got out of her car to make sure they were okay, calling 911 as she walked over. At the same time, firefighters pulled up since they had been parked on the street below and watched in horror as well. Blessedly, everyone was safe. All these years later, the woman wonders if time, energy, and miracles came together simultaneously.
Even if we are not able to literally slow down time, there are ways that we can perceive in a moment-to-moment manner.
· Remember the Ram Dass book called Be Here Now? More than good spiritual guidance, it is also practical advice. When you focus on the present moment, you realize that even as you may contemplate the past or future, you can only experience them now.
· Take time to be in nature as you listen to the sounds of bird song, watching the leaves dancing in the wind or the ocean waves crashing on the sand. When our senses are attuned to what is around us, it is directing us to be present. And when we are present, time naturally slows down.
· Engage in an activity that you enjoy. Artists, writers, and musicians find that when they are immersed in creativity, they lose track of time.
· When you are doing routine chores, such as laundry or dishes, focus on the methodical actions of folding clothes as you smooth them down and put them neatly away in their drawers or feel the slippery suds through your fingers as your dishes become squeaky clean.
· Neuroscientist David Eagleman talks about How to Slow Down Your Perception of Time. He encourages novelty as a way of slowing down time. If you are accustomed to driving home from work one way, change your route. If you are wearing a watch on one hand, switch it to the other. Travel to places you have never been. Try a new flavor of ice cream.
· Slow TV was highlighted on the TED Radio Hour. “Slow TV is a cultural phenomenon that has attracted millions of viewers in countries like Norway and soon it’ll be on Netflix’s global stage of 190 countries. Slow TV is seen as a way to wind down, and lets you watch hours of unedited footage with titles like: Salmon Fishing, Train Ride Bergen to Oslo, or National Knitting Morning.”
· Practice mindfulness meditation which allows you to release rumination about all the things you have on your to do list.
· Focus on your breathing and heartbeat. These are two natural functions that are automatic, but that can be changed. See if you can slow them both down.
“Time is an illusion.”― Albert Einstein