Time is a mystery, an illusion, a concept, a mathematical abstraction, a cultural framework... but when Siddhartha talks about time in Herman Hesse’s book of the same name he speaks about the river that is "at once everywhere at the same time". It flows, has an upstream and a downstream, a before and after but is doing so at the same time and so time dissolves into presence, being.
“Have you also learned that secret from the river, that there is no such thing as time?” he asks. (…) “and when I learned that, I reviewed my life and it was also a river, and Siddhartha the boy, Siddhartha the mature man and Siddhartha the old man were only separated by shadows, not through reality. Siddhartha’s previous lives were also not in the past, and his death and return to Brahma are not in the future. Nothing was, nothing will be, everything has reality and presence.”(Siddhartha, Herman Hesse, 1922)
In deep meditation, time dissolves into infinity, it expands into nothingness as we connect to "the part of us that doesn't change"(Andrea Juhan, Open Floor dance teacher and founder), our permanence, our essence and Life itself.
But we have let time contract our lives instead. We lead a controlled, scheduled existence, with to do lists that we tick off and very full time tables. All these must dos, deadlines, time constraints and pressures add to our stress and anxiety levels, take us away from our true selves and ensnare us. We think we're in control but the opposite happens.
Until the body says stop, until it complaints about the overload, shuts down and ultimately protects, calls our attention back in our feeling body through pain, strained and aching muscles, a sudden illness, insomnia, exhaustion, depression, headaches, migraines…
Have you noticed how this process has spiralled out of control in our modern Western world? We talk about our "work ethics"and being lazy is ultimately seen as being selfish, irresponsible and yes, just outright bad for you.
An ailment, social or otherwise never comes without its antidotes and it's no accident we've recently come up with the phrase taking 'time out', or having 'me time'. We're slowly copping on to the health and social benefits of stopping and letting go and we are realising how these also impact positively on everyone around us.
In fact we need to reconnect with our "lazy gurus": "a peaceful being who lives by a quiet river in a secret corner of your soul," says Laurence Shorter in the brilliant Lazy Guru's Guide to Life because we have become " a society of self-preserving, neurotic control freaks."
"Learning to stop is the first step to pulling out of our stress head spiral," she explains. "Even if we believe we are being productive we are often acting stressed and inefficient without realising it. Stopping is useful for all sorts of situations-not just catastrophes and crises.(...) whenever you feel yourself losing the flow, it's how we create space, open perspective and notice how narrow and limited our attitude has become." (The Lazy Guru's Guide to Life, The Mindful art of achieving more by doing less, Laurence Shorter, 2016)
This practise of stopping, tuning in and creating space ultimately reconnects us with the flow: with our inner flow and the universal flow of Life itself, what Shorter describes as, "activating the self-organising force, the natural intelligence of your body, your mind and the world around you".
This is by no means easy to accomplish on one's own. It is for good reasons that we seek the help of alternative health therapists, go to yoga, meditation retreats, movement workshops that help us stretch our minds and bodies, and find them "relaxing", "embodying", "energising", "healing" and "liberating".
Very few of us can do this totally on our own all the time because tuning in means feeling our aching, tense, anxious and stressed selves and surrendering is quite a terrifying, demanding and difficult act without outside help. Seeking the assistance of qualified therapists and facilitators to safely hold the space for us to let go and have the universal organising force work its magic for us ( we call it Breath of Life in cranio sacral speak) is very much an act of conscious self-preservation and even altruism.
I am just back from an inspiring dance workshop masterfully held by Open Floor founder and teacher Andrea Juhan. The theme was "the Soul's unfolding". Through movement we practiced what she called taking "shape", form and "dissolving". She offered different body mapping exercises for us to feel our frames, our flesh then slowly let go, creating space within and around us through a dissolving and gradual unfolding.
I found myself resisting at times because I did not like what I felt, I was bored or uncomfortable. Whatever I was hanging onto prevented me from dissolving and let my Soul unfold fully, surrendering to Life. By the end of the workshop however I could hear my soul sing and laugh and feel my "soul power" as Andrea called it, it was so beautiful!
She quoted this exquisite Yoga Sutra, Banter Verses 3-4:
"I have been listening to the love songs of
Form longing for formless.
What are these energies
Undulating through our bodies,
Pulsing us into action?
And this "matter" out of which our forms are made-
What are these dancing particles
Of condensed radiance?"
I surrendered to the formidable inner rush of an immense gratitude at being alive
and danced the bliss of these infinite sparkles of life.
The disentangled self is boundless and timeless. It is in tune, in sync with "the law of the stars" as beautifully evoked by Rainer Maria Rilke in the verse below:
“Ah, not to be cut off,
not through the slightest partition
shut out from the law of the stars.
The inner- what is it?
if not intensified sky,
hurled through with birds and deep
with the winds of home coming”
Rainer Maria Rilke
After all is said and done, isn't "home coming" our ultimate goal?