I’ve been thinking about Time lately. Of all the ways we structure our lives around it.
When you’re tearing your hair out because your to-do list has turned tyrannical, time becomes a cage, fixed, rigid, inescapable.
After all, there are twenty-four hours in a day, seven days in a week, fifty-two weeks in the year.
Yet there are cultures that don’t measure time this way. The Gregorian calendar adds an extra day in February every leap year to account for the day that doesn’t quite fit into our annual template of time. The Zoroastrian calendar handles this anomaly of time by moving the entire calendar up a day, once every four years.
What this meant for me, as a kid, was that I had two birthdays each year — one on my regular birthday, and one on my Zoroastrian birthday! Which seemed like a perfectly sensible thing, since I think your birthday is the most important day of your life. And two of them are twice as magnificent as one.
But I’m meandering, which tells you something about my relationship with time. . .
Some cultures use time as a measure of distance. For example, in Nepal, the distance between one village and the next is measured by the time it takes to walk there. Not by miles or kilometers.
Time is a way of mapping how we live, and our relationship to time is shaped by our culture’s way of being in the world.
In India, people are astonished by the impatience of Western visitors, by the way they push against time. Time in India is dilatory . . . slowly, slowly, my Indian compatriots say, waggling their heads from side to side. What’s the big hurry? Everything will happen in its own time.
In our culture, time is limited. Limited, precious, not-enough. This creates urgency, a pressure to pack in more and more into every nook and cranny of the day.
And yet, time is much more elastic than we realize. Time is a variable we must come to terms with in the physical world, but it doesn’t exist — at least, not in the same measured way — in the realm of energy and spirit.
Imagination — which is a quality of spirit and energy that’s readily available to us — invites us to play with time lightly, loosely, creatively.
My imagination carries me instantly across this beautiful bay in front of my window, and lands me gently on top of that sunlit mountain glowing on the far edge of the horizon.
And my imagination brings me back to my living room, back to the chair I’m sitting in. Simply. Instantly. No time involved, and no effort.
If I wanted to make that journey physically, I’d have to cancel my day’s appointments, drive to the ferry dock, buy a ticket, get on the ferry, and spend most of the day getting to the other side of the strait. I’d have to find a place to stay overnight because I’d be too exhausted to make the journey back the same day.
Two intersecting realities — two very different relationships to time.
Because time as we understand is a much more fluid phenomenon in the realm of energy and spirit, what we think of as past, present, and future all happen more or less simultaneously.
This means that we can change a pattern, heal a broken heart, or transform a family story almost instantly. Not only will the changes we make alter the course of our own lives, but they’ll also change the trajectory and history of our lineage. Spiritually and energetically, our ancestral heritage will be transformed, as will the potential lives of our children and the generations that follow us.
Our history and our future can change in an instant, when we engage with time in this way.
To integrate this change into the physical world, however, we must relate to linear time, or time as we know it.
This means you can change a pattern profoundly in a single hour. And the effects of that change will begin to unfold in your life almost immediately.
But you’ll still have to become the person who embodies that change. And because you live in physical reality, this may take some time.
For instance, this morning I spent an hour or so of physical time, energetically and spiritually creating the next phase of my business. After a long sabbatical, I will be teaching group programs and workshops again, starting this fall.
While some of the work involved in doing this takes place in the physical world — reviewing and revising curriculum, outlining new programs, developing a marketing plan and so on — much of the work I’m doing right now takes place outside of time as we commonly think of it.
To create something new, I must first bring into physical form those aspects of my Self that carry the qualities of what I want to create. So this morning, I invoked the spirit of education within me.
I attuned to my inner educator, who carries decades of experience and skill in teaching, program planning, curriculum development and so on, and who also participates in the activity of the Deva of Education — that deeper spiritual Presence which holds the blueprint for education as a universal quality of wholeness and divinity.
I asked the Deva of Education for its help, inspiration, support and guidance in shaping these new programs, in developing curricula that will bless and benefit the whole ecology of my world.
And I asked specific questions: What do my clients and students need most? What does my community need right now? What does my world need? What do I need?
How can I shape my work to meet these needs in a healthful and balanced way?
Then I walked myself — quite literally — through an energetic process to inhabit my future self, the one who teaches these classes and programs.
Here’s how I did it. You can follow along, if you like. Just apply this process to whatever you’re creating right now.
Attune to the energy field of the Self that I’m incarnating — the Me who is teaching and healing in a flourishing, collaborative learning community.
Place this energy field about four feet out in front of me. Close my eyes, ground, and center. Once I’m fully present, stand up and walk into the energy field of my newly incarnated self.
Stand in this energy field and experience it. How does my body feel? How am I standing, holding myself? How do my muscles feel, my bones, my breath, my pulse and heartbeat? How is the weight distributed across my feet? Constriction? Spaciousness? Where? In my chest? Shoulders?
I’m not trying to change anything â€“ just experiencing what is, in this new version of myself.
Continuing to experience myself teaching, healing, mentoring, writing, speaking. What am I feeling? Certainty. Joy. Creative enthusiasm. Spaciousness.
Mentally: Clear, precise awareness. Expanded awareness includes the field around me, and everyone who engages with that field.
Spiritually: Connected. In flow. Radiating. Whole.
Allies: Invite my allies — those who love and support me in this new incarnation of myself — to come and stand in a circle around me. Feel them holding the space of my new incarnation so it is grounded, sturdy and strong. Feel their support and love for me in my new incarnation.
Now look around. Expand my awareness so I get a bird’s eye view of the world, the universe, the cosmos, with my new incarnation as the central point of view. Notice how my newly incarnated self affects my environment. Who is changed or transformed by it? How? And how do those effects ripple outward into the world around me?
Continue to stand in the energy field of my new incarnation. Invite the Me that inhabits it to begin to transform the Me that I am right now.
Not forcefully, and only to the extent that my present self is willing to be transformed.
Invite those aspects of my present self that are ready to be drawn into this new incarnation to flow into it now.
Invite those aspects of my present self that are ready to be transformed, to change and alter. To move closer to my new incarnation.
Experience what’s happening inside me as I do this.
Now ask my soul to create a direct, clear sunlit path from my present incarnation to my new incarnation. A path of golden light leading from where I was sitting, to where I’m now standing.
Ask my allies to hold the space of this path with me, to hold it steady and to help me walk it in strength, power and confidence.
Still standing in my new incarnation, ask my soul to give me a gift that will most directly help me get from my present self, to my new incarnation.
Receive the gift (for me, this was a pair of giant golden feet) and experience how I feel as I hold this gift in my hands.
Now walk backwards along the sunlit path from my new incarnation into my present self, carrying the gift with me.
Step back into my present incarnation. Return to where I was sitting at the beginning of this exercise. Experience how I feel in my body now.
Let the gift I’ve brought back with me find its rightful home in my body. Where does it belong? Let it flow in there. Experience what this feels like.
Next, invite a circle of my inner selves — all the different aspects of myself, which together hold all of my life’s experiences — to come and meet the gift I’ve been given, in its new home in my body. Invite them to touch the gift, to smell and taste and hear it, to ask it questions, to get to know it, to come into relationship with it.
Do any of my inner selves have something they want to say about their experience with the gift, and with what it brings to them?
Invite the gift to expand and to transform each cell of my body and my energy body — to bring me closer to my new incarnation.
Give thanks and blessings to the Sacred, to my allies, to my selves, to my soul, to my new incarnation, and to the Wholeness that embraces us all.
And that’s how I played with Time this morning, to meet and embrace my still-being-born self.
What are some of the ways you play with time? Stretch it like silly putty? Condense and expand and roll it around?
I’d love to hear your stories.