Time is a funny thing; romanticized and personified, vilified and trivialized… Time is sneaky, inspiring, frightening and slick. Time will zip by and you won’t know where it came from or which direction it was going. Also, Time will ooze past the window at a snail’s pace, leaving you to wonder if you’ll be sitting there by that window forever.
No sooner than I begin nosing around concepts of Time in spiritual practice than the clocks at the yoga center stop working. Picture this: It’s just me and twelve to fifteen of my closest friends having a yoga class. They’re in downward facing dog after a few standing pose series, twists and some arm balances. I have some idea of where we are in class because of timing from the playlist, but the clock distinctly says I have another twenty minutes or so.
Something deep in the pit of my belly says otherwise.
I scan the room of bodies now bowing low in child’s pose. They should have been given a rest ten minutes ago, but this losing track of time is like an avalanche and things are quickly going downhill. I spy a wrist with a watch wrapped round it. I peer into the round face of doom, the wearer happily face down and breathing deeply on their sticky mat. I see we should be finishing up in five or so minutes.
Quickest end of class relaxation ever.
Since this class, the batteries were changed in that clock. I don’t even know what happened to the digital clock we had in there before. Feeling the need to address the situation I go get the battery changed in a watch I’ve had in the bottom of my jewelry box for years.
The watch face is covered with a gold lid adorned with an elephant, dressed in regalia of tassels and bangles as only elephants in India can be. The band is metal and brassy gold, too. It has yellow daisies on it. I like that I can’t just look down and see the Time, I have to intend to know what Time it is and lift the little lid.
I was so pleased to have the watch ready to wear to yoga classes I put it on my meditation table to soak up the mojo I imported last year. That watch has sat there ever since.
I have ended up in private restorative yoga sessions and had to guesstimate where I was on Time, because the clock wasn’t even in there. I’ve borrowed watches off students more than once and have started putting my bo-bo flip phone on silent and placing it on the altar beside Shiva, Lord of Yoga, named Kala as Master of Time. Hi how ya doing nice to meet you.
Together with the Mother, Kali and Kala are Time, and here I am doing everything I can to get their attention. What should I expect?
Sometimes while I’m teaching a class folks will be in a deep and serious state. The music will have a dragging quality and the only thing I’m missing is the Death March of the Marionettes channel on Pandora. When classes feel like a challenge, both being in it and as the guide for the hour and fifteen minutes, Time crawls super slow style, like slow motion robot dancing from the eighties.
Sometimes yoga classes are smashing. There’s an element of surprise even for me as we move into a series I forgot I even knew. Someone in the back row cracks a joke. It’s during these classes in which I look down at the clock and wonder where the Time went, zooming by on its own non-skid magic carpet.
Since I no longer have a readily accessible Time piece but have to open the lid on my watch or open the flip on my phone I’ve noticed that my perception of Time is leveling out. An hour and a half class feels about like an hour and a half. I don’t feel rushed or pushed to get closer to the end of class than the class itself dictates. I don’t have the urgency to slow the class down but am able to work with the energy everyone brought with them that day.
I’ve been working with this in other areas of life, too. I’ll rush myself to get to a project and then feel rushed while I’m working on it. I’ll wonder who in the hell is doing the rushing. I’ll remember that the work shouldn’t be rushed. I’ll try to slow down, but my gaze catches the big hand the the little hand and feels like it’s a sparring match. However, if I remove the ability to watch the clock and simply attend to whatever it is I’m working on – this post maybe – without worrying about Time’s placement in the arrangement I relax a little bit.
That’s not to say we should ignore Time. Heaven’s no, but there’s a sense of being on Time, of there being a spaciousness involved in the Time and Space of life when I’m not engaged directly with the clock. What I’m learning it that the clock and Time are not the same entity. Time is a substance. A clock is a machine, no less than a microwave or television.
So you try it. Put a post-it note over the clocks in your kitchen, electrical tape over the technological marvels in your living room/study and the phone – better yet turn the damn thing off. And see how Time treats you then, when the clock is no longer a distraction.