THE BLOG
10/20/2014 04:13 pm ET Updated Dec 20, 2014

Retreat and the Gifts of Vertical Time

Most of us are busy trying to get from where we are to where we want to be. This occupies most of our thoughts, actions, and plans. Our awareness is available for little else. We live in horizontal time. There is another path. Instead of having to get someplace, there is the art of living in the present. This is vertical time. Stepping out of horizontal time, we step into the completeness of the moment. In simply being, there is a mysterious embrace, a very personal loving realm to uncover in vertical time.

Taking the step from our busy life and be in retreat, silence, simplicity is difficult for most of us. What we don't realize is that the difficulty is that we are stepping from horizontal time into vertical time. This is why the heart says yes but the mind hesitates, resists. There is so much to do, so many obligations to meet. It is hard to get off our mental highway and find the exit to the rich meadow of the moment, the heart, and simple peace.

How do we get away from horizontal time, the world of thinking, planning, doing and enter vertical time, the realm of solitude, surrender, and receiving? Living in horizontal time as much as we do, it is not easy to let go of wanting something more, something better, something different and instead enter the realm where there is enough. In vertical time there is more then enough. The present moment is found to be very giving, complete. In the vertical life, time is not a clock to get somewhere else but a companion on a journey, a presence taking us on adventure. Vertical time is falling, falling into the arms of emptiness. We land in the great presence of the intimacy of life. The movement is inside as much as it is outside. Vertical time is tea time, a coffee break, a long walk. So much can happen with a simple cup of tea, sitting back with our coffee, on a long walk to nowhere. There is so much in vertical time.

When we make a retreat it is like walking out of the crowd and suddenly being with our self. At first we can feel a little anxious, vulnerable. Leaving all the gadgets, calendars, and routine behind, we feel the tension horizontal time has over us, within us. Horizontal time is very consuming of our life energy. Our soul can disappear in the rear view mirror as we keep looking ahead to what is coming next. On retreat, as we enter the silence, harmony and rest are found. Our soul can come into view again. In retreat something special is present. We are present in vertical time. The abundance that we seek, the love that we search for in horizontal time is the natural offering in the realm of retreat, in the world of vertical time.

Peace and quiet are front and center. Our nerves are adjusting to another culture, a culture of stillness. Heartfulness and beauty are the fruit found in the generosity of the moment. We are discovering a new language, a different comfort, a way of living without demands on our self or someone else. We are not waiting for the weekend, for the kids to go to bed, or the day we can retire. Vertical time is all about uncovering life's essence in the simplicity of experiencing this moment. Vertical time is all about space. Between the past and the future there is lots of space. From enjoying the smallest moment to finding the planets and stars expanding seemingly forever within us, vertical time is more and more room, lots of rooms. As much as the pressures of horizontal time can make us feel small and insignificant, in vertical time there is a vastness of being inviting us to occupy it all, to be big. There is the center of the universe to be found inside of us.

In our horizontal world, time seems to be waiting, wasting, running by us while vertical time is patiently standing besides us. Timelessness is vertical time. Instead of working to get to someplace other then where we are, vertical time begins as we notice our breath, the wind, the colors of the day, and quiet of the night. Vertical time is our awareness landing in an ever changing landscape all around and especially within us.

To find vertical time we can be in an ideal spot on top of a mountain or in a hospital bed. It is less about where we are and more about the choices we are making. Most people don't realize it but the depression they feel is from the weight of horizontal time. Serious depression is feeling as if horizontal time is forever and there is no escape. But there is an escape. There is vertical time and the simple joys found in consciousness in everything we are doing. Vertical time is letting what is normally invisible become more a part of our life.

Our health, success, and connection to ourselves and one another all take a giant leap as we give ourselves vertical time. Our compulsions, addictions, patterns of thought and behavior have less of a pull on us as our awareness is planted in our ground of being. Our ground of being is our home in vertical time. The strings of horizontal time are loosening, untying. There is so much to feel and experience in the heart of the moment, the heart inside our heart. Fun and inner quiet grow side by side as humility, reflection, prayer and acceptance fill our lungs, moving our hands and feet. To soak in vertical time is to absorb our source of trust.

The love we find is full of purposefulness. This longing for purpose is something most people have lost in all the months and years spent in horizontal life. Love, humor, goodness, innocence all get squeezed out of life if we are controlled by the clock of having to get someplace other then where we are. Horizontal time is a killer of present time, good times, living life without watching the time. We all know when horizontal time approaches. We shrink inside and get back to everything we are suppose to do. Vertical time expands us. In everything we create, people we are with, the meditation we make, life is bigger. Vertical time is the clock of no clock.

In the vastness of vertical time, our awareness can learn to drop anchor. From the crowded mind we let go and land in a space which opens and keeps opening. Peace, eternity, God, call it what we want, this space is warm, accepting, brilliant. As we let go of the pull of our horizontal mind, we find the depths of our vertical being. This is our source of spiritual awakening.

Vertical time is the realm of light, angels, gardens of incredible color. The vertical clock is full of all that happens naturally to people when they are out of horizontal time and living fully in the present. People who have had a near-death experience know what it means for everything to stop and something else to begin. In their NDE, horizontal time ended and vertical time took over. Others in life's intense moments find the realms of vertical time around them, within and supporting them. There is an inner world, a spiritual world, to discover. Wherever time stops, something else awaits us.

One of the first questions people ask as they discover the peace and simple joys of vertical time is how do I take this back into my normal world? In other words, how do I take this simple peace into my complicated life? The simple answer is we don't! Horizontal time and vertical time are two distinct realities. This is why people who have been changed by a spiritual experience have so many troubles living in the normal horizontal world.

Vertical time is much more then a relief from the pressures of the horizontal world. We don't enter vertical time for horizontal results, to make something happen. Life is not meant to be a struggle between our horizontal and vertical clocks. Vertical time is worth more and more as it is traveled. It may begin with a walk in the woods, in the arms of our partner, or in a retreat. Slowly silence, nature and the heart are making friends. Vertical time grows in the intimacy. There is a rebirth, an initiation. Life changes. Our priorities are different. What was complicated becomes more simple. As vertical time is embraced, horizontal time becomes just the part of the day where we get the practical things done. Life is for vertical time. We know we are in vertical time as service to others and gratitude fill us. Vertical time is a life practice as we find what we want more and more in this moment. There are worlds and worlds, realms upon realms for us to know and enjoy as vertical time unfolds within each of us.