A Peak Performance weblog

The seminar/movie is on YouTube at:  http://youtu.be/sGqV6KViRuw

Here’s the script for the seminar, by slide.

Slide 1:

This short seminar introduces essential definitions; inquiry about the zone, personal time, and the source of time pressure; and two powerful methods that can be useful for mastering time.

Slide 2:

Typical conventional time management (CTM) workshops only use one word for different aspects of time. We need some clarity about the different kinds of time.  Here are some descriptions.

Physical, or event time is the continual occurrence of physical and experiential events. The word event is used to describe something that happened, or is happening ‘now’, like getting up in the morning, or noticing that you’re hungry. Event time is what we hear and see on TV and radio news shows.

A second face of time is symbolized by the faces of clocks and watches, different tools for measuring ‘event time’. Different cultures measure event time in different ways.  These measurements allow us to compare and coordinate our activities.

The third face of time is the one that is probably most important for our happiness, although it’s also probably the face that is least understood and most undervalued. Here we will call it personal or psychological time, though it might also be called experienced time. It includes all the different ways we feel or experience time. We may feel time move quickly when we’re having ‘a great time’. During some of the best moments of  our lives, things seem timeless, with little or no feeling of time passing. We feel time ‘drag’ or pass slowly when we’re bored, or having ‘a bad time’. We feel anxious about time when it seems we don’t have enough of it. Our feeling of time passing (FTP) sets up familiar problems: time pressure, anxiety, overwhelm, and the feeling we don’t have enough time.

Rather than measuring or mirroring an ‘external flow’ (which scientists haven’t found), our FTP is just the aggregate result of resisting past negative experiences. (For examples illustrating this, watch the longer introductory time mastery seminar that you can sign up for at  http://www.tskassociation.org/got-time-introduction.html  )   A composite of repressed energy, the FTP is independent of external physical events and speeds. In other words, our feeling of speed and time pressure is a product of past resisted experiences, and not a measure of current external forces or events.

A very important part of personal time for Westerners is called linear time, a sense of horizontal time flow among past, present, and future that moves at the same unchangeable speed for all of us.

Finally, though it’s a kind of lack of any feelings of time passing, timelessness can also be considered a kind of personal time.

Slide 3:

Now we’ll take a look at psychological or personal time, which is not addressed by CTM.  Like a personal space, we have a personal time that can be defined as the length of clock time it takes us to process a bit of information. This varies but we don’t usually pay much attention to it.  It’s like a frequency of awareness, similar to the flashing light that projects movies. We can learn to speed it up and slow it down, opening up new levels of performance and well-being.

Slide 4:

Research shows that  time pressure and anxiety accompanying linear time, the habitual Western perspective of seeing time flowing linearly, is one of the greatest sources of stress for most people. Dr. Larry Dossey wrote, “Many illnesses–perhaps most–may be caused either wholly or in part by our misperception of time. . . . I am convinced that we can destroy ourselves through the creation of illness by perceiving time in a linear, one-way flow.” (Space, Time and Medicine, Larry Dossey, M.D., Shambhala, Boston & London, 1982.)

What is the source of time pressure?  Most CTM seminars don’t even seriously ask this question. But if we know the source, we can probably handle it better. Here are some common candidates for the factors involved:

My boss

A deadline itself

A plate (to-do list) that’s too full, or a lack of clock time


Likes and dislikes, attitudes

Disorganization and confusion about what to do

Unclear priorities

Lack of an effective scheduling system

Here are two uncommon candidates:

Chemical imbalance

Imbalance in one’s energy flow.

My research indicates that the last six of these factors do affect time pressures, and that the most important of these factors is the last one, an imbalance in one’s energy flow. This imbalance seems to be primarily an aggregate result of past emotional residues.  Rather than measuring or mirroring some ‘external time flow’ (which scientists haven’t found), our FTP is typically the result of repressed energy, completely independent of external physical events and speeds. In other words, our feeling of speed and time pressure is typically a product of past ‘undigested’ experiences, and not a measure of current external forces or events. So full schedules and modern speedy technology  are not the problem.

Slide 5:

The gradual process of developing and strengthening the sense of time passing can be expressed in terms of three primary human energy centers:

Some feeling rises to awareness. But rather than feel the feeling, and allow it to dissipate and dissolve, we turn away from it. The feeling is repressed or suppressed and we lose a measure of confidence as well as a bit of the natural fulfillment that accompanies being fully involved in our energies. The energy of the heart is lessened and we feel somewhat pressured.

Excess energy flows to the head and a sense of detached self-consciousness intensifies as our thinking skips about the separate past, present, and future rooms in our experience.

Energy in the area of the throat, which is closely associated with time, becomes agitated as we become anxious and more aware of time passing. We feel a bit more helpless; time becomes more threatening, a greater enemy. Thereafter there’s a more dissatisfied sense of self trying to seek satisfaction through various objects and activities.

Slide 6:

Let’s consider a few more questions, this time about the so-called ‘zone’ of peak experience or peak performance.

When deeply in love, what’s your experience of time/timelessness?

In deep meditation, what’s your experience of time? When doing your best work, what’s your experience of time?

About 70% of people say there’s timelessness; 30% say time goes fast, but without friction or lack of control.

Slide 7:

Here are some quotes from athletes and meditation teachers about the experience of time during peak experiences.  “There is a common experience in Tai Chi . . . . Awareness of the passage of time completely stops.”  (p. 47, In The Zone (ITZ), Murphy and White)

[football player John Brodie:]  “Time seems to slow way down . . . . as if I had all the time in the world . . . and yet I know the defensive line is coming at me just as fast as ever.”   (p. 42, ITZ)

Tom Seaver:  “As Rod Gaspar’s front foot stretched out and touched home plate, in the fraction of a second before I leaped out of the dugout . . . my whole baseball life flashed in front of me . . . .”  (p. 47, ITZ)

Note that conventional time management workshops don’t usually discuss these peak experiences.

Slide 8:

We can do a little inquiry exercise to explore our personal time.  We talk about moments all the time, but how long is a moment?  How long is your moment?  At any time this could be different for all of us.  Make a kind of mental note about how long this seems. . . .

Now, between any two of such moments, see whether you can perceive additional moments, perhaps by just noticing what’s there, perhaps by relaxing while somehow turning up the speed of your awareness. . . .

Continue this experiment for a minute, seeing whether you can perceive additional, possibly subtle, moments between any two moments. . . .

OK.  What happened?  Did you find something you might call “moments between moments?”  Did your experience of time change in the process? . . .

Slide 9:

We can experiment a bit more with personal time and do an exercise to see how it changes.

Usually looking at a clock causes some anxiety.  Does it have to? If you can relax while watching the clock, you can probably stay relaxed in nearly any situation.

This clock watching exercise directly balances the throat energy center, where imbalance seems to produce pressure and anxiety about time.  It also balances left and right brain hemispheres, as shown by research in applied kinesiology.

Set up your environment so that you have five minutes when you won’t be interrupted or distracted.  When the timer on the next slide starts, just relax and watch the timer’s hand move. Breathe easily, gently, and smoothly through both nose and mouth, with the tip of your tongue on the upper palate just in back of your front teeth.  As you continue, see if you can let the breath become more and more even and continuous, without breaks or jerkiness–this is important. Evenness and continuity of the breath is reflected in the clarity and peacefulness of awareness.

Slide 10:  timer

Slide 11:

During the clock watching exercise, did the sense of time pressure and anxiety decrease?

Did the feeling of time change? If so, how?

Did every minute seem equally long?

How were pressure and anxiety related to the flow of time?

You can practice this way of breathing as often as you can remember it. After a month or so, your whole energy level and sense of balance and relaxation will probably change.

Slide 12:

Here’s a list of resources available for time management and time mastery:

For a free 45-minute movie on mastering time, sign up at http://www.tskassociation.org/got-time-introduction.html

For a complete Mastering Linear Time workshop, see:

Coaching is available for individuals and groups—take advantage of a free, half-hour needs assessment interview.  For more information, email   steve@manage-time.com

Other available publications:  Two books, Flow, Glow, and Zero, and Results in No Time, numerous articles on time management and time mastery, two websites, http://www.tskassociation.org and http://www.manage-time.com, cassette tapes, and email newsletters.

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