Build Your Leaders

Postcard from Asheville

September 2013

The Power of Shifting Time

When did time become the enemy? I seem to be in a constant battle with it.
“There’s not enough time.” “I wish had more time.” “This is taking too much time.” “I’ve got too much time on my hands.”

I can make even the most inconsequential task—such as running to the grocery store—an urgent undertaking. I feel guilty when not productive, and when faced with long blocks of unstructured time, I becomeanxious. Yet when Iwalkin nature, write at my computer,or paint in the studio, time slows and I am at peace.

We haveonly one word for time. The ancient Greeks had two: chronos and kairos. Chronos time is clock time; it’s chronological, linear, and sequential, and it’s finite.We know we are in chronos time when we are hurrying, worrying, driven, or just taking care of business.

Kairos time is that moment of indeterminatelength in which something special happens. It’s that right, opportune, or perfect moment. Great comedians know it as comedic timing; athletes feel it when they are in the zone. I experience it in those slower moments—walking, writing, or painting.

While I like the Greeks’ concept of kairos time,it seems a bit heady for me. Instead, I prefer the term “soul time.”When we are in soul time,we are one with our highest self, our purpose, or the divine. Operating from our essence or divine self rather than our ego, we experience joy, awe, gratitude, compassion, inspiration, and love. The ordinary seems extraordinary. Time slows, or even stops, as if it dissolved into space.

As wonderful as it feels, I can’t always be in soul time. Sometimes Ineed chronos time to operate in the world, but I’d like to make more room for soul time. I’m not sure of all the steps to shift chronos into soul time, but I do know that it beginswith being present, and being present starts with the pause.

My friend, Ruth Hill, teaches that there are three gestures of life: contraction, expansion, and the pause. When I am in chronos time, I am contracting;in soul time, I am expanding; and when I pause,I am still.In this stillness I become aware of breath, beauty, andbody sensation.This awareness helps me become present.

Recently I learned that a venue where I would be speaking was four and a half hours away, rather than the three that I’d been planning. I was put out; I hate to drive. Another hour and a half in the car seemed insurmountable. Books on tape will only capture my attention for so long.

On the trip, I experimented with shifting chronos to soul time. Whenever I caught myself glancing at the clock, I tuned into my breath, body, and the beauty around me. Soon my anxiety faded, and I was at peace. The long trip that I had been dreading flew by.

Perhaps in my experiment I found one of the secrets of living a rich life: shifting chronos to soul time.

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