Time and Timing
A few days ago, I took the dog for a walk on a beautiful, sunny morning, and I was thinking about what could go on this blog. Every time we walk, we turn around at the same spot and re-trace our steps to make sure we have a view of the ocean in both directions (why not enjoy it twice). I was thinking about time: enjoying it, wasting it, being aware of it. I was going back to where we started but walking forwards, all the while, time passing. Then I thought, what if I turn around and walk backwards to look where I just came from, so I turned around and started walking backwards. Grammatically speaking, I was walking backwards in time. I was going where I started, and I was going backwards. If no one told me, how would I know there was such a thing as time, and that it was passing?
Albert Einstein proved mathematically that time is relative. Two people who are born at the same moment can age at different rates (if we could move at the speed of light). If time is relative, then our normal concept of time and it passing is wrong. Because there can be two or more versions of time, there really is no absolute version, so it doesn't exist. it's just a perception on present moments. There is only the present moment, no future, and no past. There is only now.
We do have clocks and meetings and schedules, and we experience emotions around
“time” and what we think it does for us. "Time’s" merely a construct we as humans use to increase getting what we want in relation to others and for a sense of security in what can often feel like total uncertainty.
The reality of life (the universe, science) is that the only existence occurs in the exact present moment as you observe it. A moment occurs as you observe it to occur, i.e. everything really is in your mind. One moment unfolds into another moment, and therefore “time” passes as you choose it to pass.
There is no time. There is only the present moment. It’s almost cliche: do you know people who are always complaining constantly, about all the bad things happening to them. With enough “time” in between seeing them, you begin to see and understand that they are bringing the bad things upon themselves through their own perspective - they are creating all of their own misery with their own perspective on their present moment.
And the converse is true: I create my own happiness (contentment, love, joy) by the thoughts/perspective I have on my own present moment. That's all there is: the present moment. The word I’m writing on paper, and my decision that it will resonate with you. The “future” or “past” only exists as a perspective or projection, as we decide it to be right now. There’s nothing more. There is no time, there is only now.
Seated meditation and mindfulness bring greater awareness to our thoughts as we sit and throughout the day. Our awareness of those thoughts is enough to begin to change them, and they will change into thoughts that better serve us - lead us to deeper and fuller happens, a greater personal effectiveness.
It’s all in our mind, and it all starts with awareness of our thoughts.
Meditate, sit long enough, with frequency and regularly, and this becomes abundantly clear.
We have all of these sometimes fluid, sometimes disjointed, parts of our lives that we choose and work hard to go our way. Maybe it’s a school we want our kid to go to, or a second date with someone we finally like, or a deep relationship we want to blossom that is beginning to feel frustrating and burdensome, or maybe just getting through the subway station to make a yoga class on time.
When you meditate, occurrences in your life line up with other occurrences that very much benefit you. The longer you meditate, the higher and deeper those occurrences are. They feel seamless. You create serendipity. Timing in your life becomes obvious.
When you do not meditate, you feel frustrated that life isn’t going your way. Instead of being aware and creating blessed events, you live in fits and starts of frustration, anger, and disappointment.
I can’t prove this to you. You can’t really make life a controlled experiment. I can only tell you it’s true and urge you to meditate and experience it for yourself. As a matter of fact, the timing of you reading this, perhaps meditating with some frequency, or maybe for the first time, and deepening your interest in mindfulness, is perfect.
I firmly believe that we must be growing as a person to be fully happy. Growing can come in many shapes and sizes, but I’ll get to that in a moment.
People often say they feel “stuck.” That their life is somehow not how they thought it would be or not headed in the direction they’d like it to go. Their life feels stagnant, or they see the same pattern happening again and again.
That can become a bit depressing if you keep hitting the same wall and you don’t know what to do to get out of it, and a sort of downward spiral takes over.
Growing, on the other hand, means learning about yourself and learning new things about the world around you, overcoming challenges. This can happen actively, or somewhat passively - just by putting yourself in new circumstances or around new people.
You can be totally happy with who you are already, but I don't think it lasts unless you’re seeking and working on some area of growth (I'm not old, but I'm not young either, and most of that statement comes from observation). Of course, there’s nothing really wrong with any of us as we are, but growing is imperative.
Children grow physically, mentally and emotionally, pretty steadily (most of them at least, hopefully), and we can see it happening before our eyes. Everyday: a new word, a new concept, a new skill, new level of complexity. And we nurture it - healthy food, physical play, calmer ways of expressing emotion. When the child shows growth, they’re happy (the new ability to ride a bike!) and we’re happy (their ability to hold composure when things aren’t “perfectly”) You can see that when a person is growing, they’re happy and the people around them are happy.
Physically, we finish growing (upward, and hopefully outward), but there’s always room for emotional and intellectual growth.
Let’s say you’re feeling “stuck.” Something doesn’t feel right about your work or relationship (or lack thereof), or whatever. Seek growth.
Not that simple.
When we’re all “grown up,” getting going as an adult, earning money and building a career, living on our own, exploring and finding committed relationships, we easily come under the impression that there’s no need to grow anymore - actually, it may even be a point of pride: We made it! We’re grown adults who have life all tied up in a neat bow. (as some people learn, there is no neat bow, but that’s beside the point).
It’s easy to seek out opportunities for growth, though that’s not the end of story. The real path to growth - the fertile soil - is to discover why you’re not already growing in the first place.
And that’s where meditation comes in (this is a blog on meditation, not human potential and growth).
Sit down to meditate. Be still. Close your eyes. Breath slowly through your nose, concentrate your awareness on your breath. Return to your breath as your thoughts wander. Observe your thoughts. Come back to the breath.
Good job, you're meditating. Do it again soon.
With time and practice, by observing your thoughts, gaining calm, taking control of your reactions, and breathing through difficult emotions, you begin to see the root reasons of why you’re not growing.
Don’t get along with your boss, which makes going to work dreadful? Start meditating, and you may see that you conflict with her style because you’re reacting to her in a way that stems from how your mother reacted to how your kindergarten teacher treated you, or something else, like you never wanted to be in that job, but you went in that direction because your father smiled when you announced your course of study, and he rarely smiled. Or, again whatever, it’s for you to discover. Meditation, with dedicated practice, gives you clarity, and insight, and fertilizes that soil of growth.
Meditating, in my humble opinion, is the most efficient way of getting unstuck, beginning to grow again, and feel happy. It doesn’t “fix” life (there is no neat bow). It does help you see and feel the beauty of the present, become aware of the areas and reasons why you’re not growing, and help you catalyze growth and action toward the full person you want and can be. And that leads feeling fully happy with yourself.
Don't take my word on face value. Try it.
I woke up this morning and meditated first thing. Overall, I have to say, my focus was sporadic, as if I’m not sure how this song is supposed to go. While sitting, my little monkey mind was alive and hopping. I have a lot to do these next two days, and the uncertainty around it all feels high. I know in my heart and mind that there is no reason to worry about the future (or dwell in the past) because this moment is the only beautiful moment that exists. Nevertheless, actually returning my attention to my breathing and releasing thoughts is a true and constant challenge.
I did what I could of course, and tried to return my attention to my breath over and over. I know not to judge my practice - it is what it is. So I sat, and continued to sit, and I know that no matter what, it helps me.
Overall, I’m motivated to meditate because I know through experience how beneficial it is for me.
I’m also motivated to write immediately after sitting. The idea for this blog came to me a day ago, but today is the day to write.
I’m motivated to write this because: 1. writing helps me process all of those thoughts; 2. I believe that my perspective on meditation and mindfulness is valuable and worth sharing; 3. I want to grow this concept and organization and blogging will facilitate that, because; 4. I want to grow my teaching clientele to professionally thrive, so that I can enrich my life with experiences (travel, surfing, museums, visit my family, vinho verde!), donate to worthy causes and, of course, buy things that make my life a little nicer (like an electric bike!) I’m not attached to any of this - I’m grateful for my perfectly amazing life as it is, but why not enhance it?
As I said, I’m motivated to meditate because I see and feel the benefits in my life every day.
I also know that meditation helps me (and will help you) stay motivated.
Being motivated is easy when things are going your way, when you’re seeing the results you desire. But staying motivated when things go to shit is a different story.
Meditation takes care of this: Meditating will keep you motivated.
Being and staying aware of the present moment - bringing your attention to your breath, whether seated or at some (or every) point throughout your day, aka mindfulness - gives you pause to release any worry about what you are thinking of as “bad” circumstances. That particular moment is everything and is a gift, even if it feels like it’s an obstacle or worse, extremely painful, and actually is an opportunity to learn.
The future, of course, does not exist, so why worry? It will emerge purely contingent upon your attitude, thoughts and perspective on the present. By seeing the present openly and positively, and by releasing thoughts of fear or doubt about what the future may be, it unfolds into one that you are perfectly happy to experience.
By being mindful in the present, the future becomes rosy, and something you can be really motivated to create. By staying present, we stay motivated.