Have you ever wondered why time seems to speed up as we grow older? Those wonderful school summer holidays seemed almost eternal back in childhood. The duration of the summer vacation is still the same but now, as an adult, this same time span appears to pass in the blink of an eye. What causes this phenomenon? I believe that the mind is the culprit for this cruellest of illusions.
Our minds are perpetually monitoring and gauging the world that confronts us. There are both conscious and subconscious processes at work here. Our actions and reactions are determined by the judgements that we make. Our frames of reference grow exponentially with the passing of time. Soon we find ourselves racing through life and, bang, we're 50 before we know it. Does this resonate with you?
One of the greatest gifts of innocence is the ability to encounter any scenario without judgement. For example, a few years ago I was leaving my son, Matthew, to the crèche. He was in the "toddler room" at this time. As I handed his bag to his carer I watched Matthew waddling into a room full of other little waddling toddlers. There were toys, plants and a sandpit in the corner. The kids were from various cultures and of different races. These were my observations. However, as I watched them mingle and run around playfully, I became acutely aware that they had no judgements to cast. I realized that, for them, it was simply a room full of potential and exploration. Everything is new and an hour is a long time through the eyes of a child.
My point is that the children were totally living in the present whereas I was living in my head. I lived in my own personal matrix, a reality built from my experiences and years of exposure to cultural and societal norms. My judgment of that room was instantaneous and subliminal until I saw my son's joy at being present to what is. I felt a heightened sense of awareness wash over me and time slowed down as I bore witness to the wonder of life.
The words of the sages came flowing in. I thought of Patrick Kavanagh. He had survived tuberculosis and felt rejuvenated. He re-engaged life in a more relaxed manner and saw "the newness that was in every stale thing."The words of John Lennon also came to mind. "Life is what's happening when you're busy making plans." Don't get me wrong. Making plans is an essential part of living. But if we don't slow down and immerse ourselves in our respective journeys we will not harvest the sweet fruits of life.
Meditation and walking in nature can help us to chill out. And as you relax into your own skin, so time itself will appear to be more expansive. It is also important not to reserve mindfulness and awareness exclusively for those times set aside for R&R. Life becomes infinitely more colourful when we manage to instill awareness into our everyday experiences.
I can tell you this. It's not enough to live like a meerkat and to occasionally raise your head to feel the wind in your hair. You'll feel much more contented and peaceful within once you've learned to take a step back, to breathe more deeply and to be present to the life that unfolds before you. Always remember, your happiness is in your hands.