In this fast-paced, competitive world, we can become incredibly driven and impatient, and that drive and impatience is primarily motivated by time.
We live in the worry that we don't have time to get where we need to go, to do what we need to do and to become who we aspire to be. Seldom do we allow ourselves the time to stop and take a look around once in a while – because that would mean taking leave of the race; the race in which we compete with ourselves and the expectations of others.
While time has us running around like headless chickens, we're ironically waiting for a time, too, a time when everything comes together in perfect harmony. A time when your bills are paid, the kids have stopped playing up, work has eased off, your partner is less stressed, the housework is done, your parents are off your case, etc, etc.
Of course, even if that all comes together in harmony, there will be something else that just isn't quite right, something else worth striving for, something else to fight against time for.
But what if, for one day, time stood still.
I mean, time only exists in the mind, right?
And so we have the power to stop it, to ignore the time we let dictate our lives each day.
What if the watch stopped ticking. What if, for one day, you didn't look at the time. I'm willing to bet that by letting go of time, by not looking at the clock and just living the day as it happens, you'll end up being more productive, doing things better and enjoying what you do more. This is because soul-fulfilling “doing” comes out of just “being”.
So here's a mindfulness exercise for this week. Stop the clock. Just for one day. Step out of time. Hide your watch or take the battery out. Stop the clock in the car, the kitchen, the living room and wherever else you are likely to notice time, turn it off.
Now, you might want to do this on a day off work, and on a day when you don't have many appointments that require punctuality.
Stepping Out of Time
For one day, step out of the auto-pilot dictated by time, and step into the reality of just being rather than constantly “doing” because time says you should.
Consider this for a moment:
How many times have you eaten a meal purely based on the fact that the clock said it was time to do so?
How many times have you gone to bed because the clock said it was time to sleep, yet tossed and turned because you weren't really tired?
How many times have you watched the news with little enthusiasm, but done so because it was six o clock?
Stepping out of time removes the dictation, the striving to keep up, the wanting to always be somewhere because the time tells you that you should be there.
Doing so will give you back your freedom. For one day, don't live by the clock – live by the moment.
– Eat when you feel hungry
– Sleep when you feel tired
– Paint that picture
– Write that poem
– Start reading that book
– Play spontaneously with the kids
– Be spontaneously affectionate with your partner
– Drop in unannounced on an old friend
– Call your parents out of the blue
– Take the old lady over the road something to eat
– Spend time watching nature
– Feed the birds
– Stare at the stars
Whatever you do, just live life, without the restraint and pressure of time. The rest is up to you.
I enjoyed doing this exercise so much last week that I have decided to leave the battery out of my watch indefinitely. It's currently stuck at 9 o clock! Of course, I check my phone when I need to know the time, but it's great to not feel compelled to look at my wrist every ten minutes.
I've also taken to asking strangers the time, which is wonderful because it means more social interaction when out and about; it's surprising the conversations that arise simply through asking someone the time, especially when they see you already have a watch!
For a wealth of mindfulness exercises, consider my book of the same name.