What is time? The shadow on the dial, the striking of the clock, the running of the sand, day and night, summer and winter, months, years, centuries – these are but arbitrary and outward signs, the measure of Time, not Time itself.
Time is the Life of the Soul. – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
In2015, I was a pretty stressed-out person. I was in a job I did not like, one that had me working long hours, in rather challenging circumstances. But one that I felt I could not leave, given how much time I had already put in to the effort. Pretty much par for the course for a fifty-something white collar mid-level executive in the financial services industry.
Some people thrived on it, and I envied them. I truly did. But I was beginning to flag. My body and my soul were losing the daily battle. I could feel it, but I stubbornly ignored it.
Add to that, a parent who was in the last throes of the ravaging disease that is Parkinson’s, and you have a recipe for a very nice late mid-life crisis.
I was swimming in a sea of self-made misery and needed a life preserver, a rescue buoy, from whatever corner it might come.
Personal change happens slowly, in fits and starts. But if you are seeking, something amazing just might land in your path.
Kristen introduced me to Dr. Joe Dispenza’s work on how people can use the latest findings from the fields of neuroscience and quantum physics to re-wire their brains and re-condition their bodies to make lasting changes.
Kristen starts with helping you understand your own personal “story” loop, and the “triggers” that generate emotions, which then lead to actions. Through discussion and analysis of your triggers, as well as amazing meditation sessions, she helps you change old patterns and beliefs into new ones.
Kristen taught me so much, but the one thing that sticks with me, to this day, is a very simple mantra.
“I have all the time I need….”
At first this little mantra was completely ridiculous to me. The rational mind took over and called total BULLSHIT on this concept.
Of course there is not enough time! There is never enough time! There are deadlines looming, meetings to prepare for, emails to respond to, presentations to develop, bills to pay, errands to run. You can NEVER get it all done, unless you are Super Woman – which of course was what I strived for back then, each and every day.
But I began, somewhat tentatively, to try out this very radical thought, rather surreptitiously looking over my shoulder to see if anyone might be watching to call me out.
When I thought I might be late for a meeting or appointment, I said the mantra under my breath. When I had too much on my To-Do list and started to freak out, I said it again. When I ran through a speaking presentation in my head, preparing my words, it was there, hanging over my thoughts. When I drove to work, cussing at the traffic, I said it again. And again.
I couldn’t get this little mantra out of my mind. And strangely, it comforted me tremendously.
This was a life-changing way of thinking, for someone who had always been in a hurry, juggling multiple balls of self-created urgency.
What is a mantra and why should we have one?
According to the Chopra Center, a mantra, at its core, ..”is the basis of all religious traditions, scriptures, and prayers. When carefully chosen and used silently, mantras are said to have the ability to help alter your subconscious impulses, habits, and afflictions. Mantras, when spoken or chanted, direct the healing power of Prana (life force energy) and, in traditional Vedic practices, can be used to energize and access spiritual states of consciousness. Mantra as a spiritual practice should be done on a regular basis for several months for its desired effects to take place.”
I have thought a lot about this mantra – this unique view of time – over the last few days, as I learned that someone very close to me had a major relapse in her recovery from brain cancer. After enduring surgery, radiation, and then doing tremendously well on experimental immunotherapy treatment for the last six months, the tumor has returned with a vengeance.
I don’t know how much time she has; new treatment protocols have been put in place, but her life has changed again, in a rather dramatic way.
Who among us really knows how much time they have left? How can my mantra be reasonable or comforting to me now, when time is so precious to me and to the ones I love?
It is a paradox, but I think my mantra may be even more critical now, when my fear is high, and when my faith and beliefs are tested.
I have all the time I need….
If you think you have all the time you need, you do not hurry.
If you think you have all the time you need, you make much better decisions.
If you think you have all the time you need, you are kinder to yourself, and to those who are in distress.
If you think you have all the time you need, you are more present and joyous with those you love.
The ancient Greeks had two words for time – chronos and kairos. Chronos referred to the typical chronological or sequential time, but kairos signified “a period or season, a moment of indeterminate time in which an event of significance happens.” Chronos is quantitative, but kairos is qualitative and much more permanent.
The root of the word kairos comes from the Greek traditions of archery and weaving; kairos defines the moment in which an arrow may be fired with just the right force to penetrate a target, or that moment when the shuttle could be cleanly passed through threads on the loom.
In Christian theology, kairos refers to God’s time, sacred time. The time when God moves in mysterious ways. The time when we peek around the corner at eternity.
Kairos time measures moments, not seconds on a clock. It denotes the right moment, the opportune moment, the perfect moment. The window of opportunity. Kairos can’t be planned, and it can not be forced. It is that moment of perfection, that one perfect moment when you stop noticing the passage of time.
Louis Armstrong’s wonderful song, We Have All the Time in the World, offers these thoughts about time.
We have all the time in the world
Time enough for life to unfold
All the precious things love has in store
We have all the love in the world
If that’s all we have
You will find we need nothing more
Every step of the way will find us
With the cares of the world far behind us
We have all the time in the world
Just for love, nothing more, nothing less, only love
I don’t view my little mantra as a free pass to waste or squander time; on the contrary, it’s a centering practice that draws me back to what is truly important. It draws me back to a way of being, in kairos time, that is peaceful, loving, and most thoroughly present.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow said, “time is the life of the soul.” I think that the root of the soul is possibly love. Nothing more, nothing less, only love. And love surely lives in kairos time.
So, the next time you find yourself hurrying, or getting caught up in fear and anxiety, or feeling short and angry with someone who has mucked up your precious plan, take a deep breath and say the words.
I have all the time I need….
Who knows, you might just step into kairos time, which is the best time there is.