Focus of the Month: January 2018

We Are the Architects of Time

Do you always feel like you’re running out of time? Do you wish you could slow down the hands of time? Maybe you can.

In Ayurveda, the sister science of yoga and one of the oldest known forms of medicine on the planet, we talk about time as one of the causes of disease. The primordial, or root, cause of disease is forgetting our own true nature as Spirit, or Divine. Our true nature is timeless; it unites us with each other and with Nature. When we forget this, our ego takes over. Our intellect fails, and we misuse our senses by taking in food and experiences unsupportive to our health. Add to this the ravages of “time” as we know it, and we have a perfect recipe for premature aging.

Ayurveda discusses time in two ways: linear and biological. Linear time exists outside of our Selves; it is something we have created and constructed. Maya is the yogic term related to linear time. In Sanskrit, maya quite literally means “illusion;” it refers to the world we live in and perceive with our senses. The illusory world of maya includes linear time: the measure of eternity (actually im-measurable) in seconds, minutes, hours, and days. While helpful in keeping track of birthdays and appointments, linear time is irrelevant to the aging process.

Biological time, on the other hand, is the measure of your “true” age. Maybe you’ve been around for 60 years of linear time, but biologically, your cells and body reflect the age of someone who’s only been here 40 years. Why is that? Maybe you made time to enjoy life and relationships, ate a supportive diet, made exercise a priority, and generally reduced stress. You took responsibility for your health and literally slowed down time. Is this possible? If we create the illusion, or maya, of time, doesn’t it follow that we could slow it down—that we could create more of it? Aren’t we truly the architects of time and our futures?
Ayurveda teaches us that if we want more time, we must SLOW DOWN. When we get caught up in the irrelevant construct of linear time, we inevitably take on too much, we multi-task, we easily get caught up in the daily dramas of life, and ultimately, we age faster. The faster your mind and body move, the faster you age.

On the other hand, did you know that linear and biological time stop when we meditate? Yes! During meditation, we still the body, slow the mind, and connect with our divine, timeless nature so closely that we literally stop the aging process. Deepak Choprah, in Ageless Body, Timeless Mind, says, “Because the mind influences every cell in the body, human aging is fluid and changeable; it can speed up, slow down, stop for a time, and even reverse itself….for nothing holds more power over the body than the beliefs of the mind.”
Perhaps Deepak is correct: if we begin to perceive and connect with the timeless qualities of the Universe and our true nature as Spirit—if we could just slow down a little everyday—we also could slow down the aging process. We could remember time really is maya, or illusion. At our core, at our origin, we are timeless beings. We are the true “architects” of our future.

In writing this focus of the month, I meditated greatly on time and how my perception of it has affected my life. My father died of cancer at age 52. I was only 23. I thought I had so much more time with him. I never dreamed that his time—our time—would be cut so short. Even so, I also never thought I would get to spend as much time with him as I did, growing up. I was raised in a role-reversed household: my mom was the full-time breadwinner, while my dad was a full-time “Mr. Mom.” He did all the cooking, cleaning, and carpooling, and I even remember him awkwardly learning how to put my hair in a bun for a ballet recital. I smile when I look back at all the time I got to spend with him because of my family’s unique set-up.

We live in a world that accepts “linear time” as a measure of change, progress, and accomplishment. We live in a world where, as the saying goes, “life is short, and then you die.” Realizing this, I remind myself: I cannot get trapped in the drama, or the illusion of maya. I MUST slow down.

Swami Satchitananda says, “Yoga believes in transforming the individual before transforming the world. Whatever change we want to happen outside should happen within.” When we remember that time is a construct, or simply a tool for measuring change, we can throw off the shackles of maya—of time’s constraints. We can slow down and take responsibility for our lives, for our health, and for our choices; we can truly become the architects of our own destinies.

Reflect upon your own relationship with time. Do you find yourself multi-tasking? Do you overreact or get caught up in the daily “dramas” of life more often than not? Do you find yourself spending less time with people and more time with your phone, Facebook account, or technology? Evaluate; find more space in your schedule; create fewer “to-do” lists; spend more time in silence and in nature; slow down in general. Perhaps just driving the speed limit would be a life-changing practice for many of us!
Use your yoga mat as a place where you slow down your thoughts, focus on how your body feels, and observe how your breath moves and guides you through your practice. Maybe you slow down the transitions between your poses. How does your mind react? Does it rebel? Is it caught in the trappings of maya, or linear time? The yoga mat is a safe and non-judgmental place to practice things we try to cultivate in our everyday lives. Perhaps you make more time for meditation (i.e. non-aging!). Notice how you feel when you’re not rushing through your life.

NOW is always the time to slow down and release your conditioned notions about the illusion, or maya, of time. NOW is the time to take responsibility for your life and health. You are a timeless being; you have always been and will always be the architect of your own destiny.

Written by Meghan Hays
January, 2018