A Peak Performance weblog

This is the script for a YouTube video that depicts the habitual Western problems with time pressure and the feeling of not having enough time, identifies common ways of not dealing with the problem, and then suggests that there are ways to change our “personal time” (like a “personal space”). The methodology, including a free article and workshop, is available at http://www.tskassociation.org/mastering-linear-time.html

Got time?  “Feeling pressed for time?  You’re not alone. A study of Americans and time shows more than half of us feel rushed. One-third of us feel rushed all the time.”  (ABC news report on time pressure, 1999)

The major cause of modern stress may be time pressure and anxiety about not having enough time. We’re time starved.  Many of us are now in a hurry most of the time, and have the strong feeling that we don’t have enough time. These mental and physiological habits strongly and adversely affect our health and well-being.

Dr. Stephan Rechtschaffen said, “I would say that 95 percent of the stress in our lives relates to our feeling of time poverty.” Dr. Larry Dossey wrote, “I am convinced that we can destroy ourselves through the creation of illness by perceiving time in a linear, one-way flow.”

And not just health and well-being are affected, but creativity also. Recent Harvard Business School research concluded that creativity is inhibited by time pressure.

What’s the cause of our chronic ‘dis-ease’?  In Western cultures, we learn to believe that time pressures are somehow ‘built into’ time, or are due mostly to speedy modern technology, and the best we can do is just adapt to it.  But this clearly isn’t true. If stress was really built into time, we could never slow time down, or have a sense of timelessness. Yet decades ago, Dr. Abraham Maslow’s research showed that peak performance predictably included a sense of timelessness, without our usual stress about time passing.

Some researchers, including Dr. Steve Randall and Dr. Dean Ornish, believe that time stress depends mostly on the way we experience events, on our frame of mind, or personal time.

“It seems that even our sense of time passing, something that seems so much a part of the outside world, is an internal process, a fundamental part of our psychology.” (from a BBC series on time, by Michio Kaku)  We all have a personal time that is much more variable than most of us realize.

[The usual way we experience time passing in Western countries, called linear time, does include pressure and anxiety about time passing. But linear time is not a physical reality, it’s just our habitual Western way of experiencing time, a mental and physiological habit.]

Extensive research shows that there is a way to ‘beat the clock’, but not by hurrying or racing against the clock, and not by ignoring time, the way some meditation instruction tries to do, and not by some magical intervention.  And not by conventional time management alone, which usually presumes that physical time flows and then focuses on clock time, so that it never gets to the bottom of psychological time.

In modern experience it sometimes feels like we’re on a treadmill, going nowhere fast.

By thoroughly examining our experience and seeing precisely how linear time seems like a conveyor moving between separate past, present, and future ‘rooms’ in our experience, its character gradually and naturally changes.

Our sense of linear time flow gradually changes into a kind of serial time flow, a less complicated replacement process in the same ‘spot’. Then, by continuing the exploration, we find that time doesn’t flow anywhere at all, either linearly or serially. Time eventually shows itself as the dynamic and creative process at the source of all experience.

The path most of us travel is summarized by imagery used during biofeedback by one of Dr. Larry Dossey’s patients: the river of time flows in a straight line, gradually curving and circling around on itself. Then the ground at the center of the circular river is covered over, leaving a peaceful, nonflowing lake.

[The path we travel in changing our experience of time is also similar to what happens when we slow down the projection of a movie. Normal projection makes the movie seem ‘real’, progressing continuously and at a normal rate. But if the rate of projection is gradually slowed down, flickers of light and space between frames appear as the continuity is disrupted, and eventually we see that our sense of the plot’s reality is just a function of the speed of projection.]

For over thirty years some Western students have used an effective methodology to explore their experience of time and decrease time stress in their lives. Now this methodology is more easily and widely accessible. With collaboration, we might be able to start a popular ‘time movement’ to significantly lessen the time stress that all of us in the West experience in our lives.

Final still slide:  Visit http://www.tskassociation.org for free resources

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