As alluded to in yesterday’s Day 4 of the pre-surgery “How to Hang On” series, the tension of time comprises a large part of the waiting game. One can learn to master the perceived pace of earthly time, however: When the distinction between Time and time becomes clear, the need to rush or slow time-with-a-little-t abates.
In regard to the title of today’s writing, two very of-this-world references set the mental scene for my thoughts. “Anna” is the housemaid, Anna, of Downton Abbey. In one of the first scenes of the first episode of the first season, Anna is shown being woken at a pre-dawn hour to begin her likely 18-hour day. As she struggles to rouse herself, she says, “Just once, I’d like to wake up natural [sic]…”
And the Watched Pot is familiar to most: In waiting for the water to be ready, one keeps a keen eye on the vessel. And seemingly, the harder we watch, the longer we wait. Both Anna and the Watched Pot point to how a strict adherence to and abiding of human time disrupts our innate sense of ease. In order to move closer to that elusive calm requires a move toward Time.
Big-T Time is the domain of the Universe. When one talks about the miracles and mysteries of “timing,” it would be perhaps more apt to write, “Timing.” For it is within the unseen but decidedly discernible Timing of the Universe that Life unfolds. The human construct of time as we perceive it on a daily basis—calendars and clocks, schedules and events—is that which causes anxiety: When one is able to detach from that sense of forward progression, calm prevails.
One might ask, “What about night and day? The sun and the moon and the body’s connection to circadian rhythms?” As most of us have experienced, the body can adapt to altered sleep patterns, day or night; perhaps work, perhaps insomnia, or perhaps a new baby or puppy contributes the need for adjustment. But any of these are factors of earthbound circumstances. The Universe’s Time never alters.
These thoughts became fodder for “How to Hang On” last week: I had been told that I would have a “yes” or “no” about surgery on Tuesday, at the latest. Of course, I had hoped to hear sooner: As the days slowed, and no answer arrived, I began to adjust my expectations. I finally let go of an early decision, and looked ahead to that Tuesday.
Then Tuesday came and went. Two conversations with the scheduling nurse yielded little help. Cut to Wednesday, and then Thursday, with yet more phone calls. As the end of Thursday afternoon descended, I suddenly gave up: not hope, but the need to have an answer. I realized that no amount of phoning or nagging or worrying or stewing would change the unfolding of the situation. I gave myself over to that which would always be: I would know, I would be scheduled, and I would have a new hip when Time decreed it so.
With that one inner adjustment, my anxiety fell away. I had told myself that I would call again on Friday morning, which I did: However, I had no expectations; I was merely fulfilling a promise to myself. I had relinquished to Time, so emotions and future-thinking had become irrelevant.
After the Friday morning call to the surgeon’s secretary, I heard back within an hour. I had been given a date for surgery—exactly 4 weeks away.
Almost immediately, I began to worry about the state of my hips, and if I would still be walking in 4 weeks, never mind one or two. But then, almost as quickly, I remembered the feeling of ease and detachment that had come with the release of control over little-t-time: I consciously shifted into “one day at a time” here on planet Earth; and into “just breathe” into the Time of the Universe.
As humans whose lives function in terms of (or: “are entrapped by”) hours and dates, it is necessary to remain mostly in accordance with these constructs. Yet, we recognize the need for “down time”: The phrase is telling—earthly time yields to our innate sense of what feels easing and inspiring. We place time “down,” so that we may explore and inhabit another dimension of what it means to move through life: When time yields to Time, life yields to Life.
It is with that thought that I suggest a practice for this Silent Sunday. Most of us have an activity, be it sedate or invigorating, that allows us to enter what is commonly known as the Zone, or Flow. In that realm is an excellent example of what it feels like to be in Time. Any need or desire to check the clock or calendar disappears: What matters is the felt state of balance and calm that imbues our body, mind, and spirit.
To that end, perhaps use this Silent Sunday to investigate your preferred activity with an awareness of time versus Time. If you would rather give yourself over to a specific meditation, I offer the following:
Unencumbered, intuitively move into a seated or lying down position. (“Unencumbered” refers to a practice without music or sounding, without candle or incense, all of which have an end point: This would inherently suggest an affiliation with time, instead of the infiniteness of Time.) Unlike most meditations, this practice suggests that any barrage of thoughts not be tamed: no need to “watch them,” no need to shift back to the breath. Instead, let whatever tension or distraction arises to fully rule your body and mind.
When you no longer feel that you can sustain this state (or you no longer want to), shift your position: If you were lying on your back or front, switch to front or back, respectively; or, move into seated. If you had been sitting crossed-leg, extend the legs out or sit on the heels; or, lie down. Be aware that as you shift away from the allowance of dis-ease, you are moving into a state of conscious release: of tension and of time.
However you are stationed, take your closed eyes to the Third Eye: Fully engage with the point as the portal to the spiritual realm, where divine Time of the Universe circulates endlessly. For a few deep, steady breaths, use each exhale to methodically ease and open through first the soles of the feel; then the backs of the knees; then the genitals; then the palms of the hands; the elbows and armpits; the jaws and ears; and finally, through the crown of the head.
Now, without a thought of time or endpoint, enter Svasana. Simply stay and rest until Time stirs you.