Time Moves Quickly: Mindfulness & Presence
Someone told me this past week why it feels like time goes faster as you get older. When you are in your first year of life there is only 365 days between you and when you came into the world. With every year that passes, it becomes more days behind you than you’ve ever had before. At 12 years of age, you have 4380 days behind you since you’ve been born. As you age, some speak about the phenomenon where the days seem to go by quicker. Time could be argued to be a construct it appears to change pace. As you begin to have more days behind you than you do in front of you, for some that may be 40s for some that may be 60s and for some that could be 20s; we feel we have lived more life than what we have left to live. That ratio impacts the way that we view the world. The concept may be a bit existential but it is a reason as to why practices of things like mindfulness and rest are important.
At one years of age we need total care and since most of us don’t have memories from that time nor the developmental capacity to sense time or things outside of our awareness, object permanence, theoretically the first year goes by slow. By the 12th year you may be itching to get home from middle school that day to finish up homework and do the chores you need to do so you can relax, maybe also rushing through the uninteresting tasks. When you spend time with your friends you may lose track of time, being so absorbed in the current moment that time seems irrelevant. That wonder in instances often decreases as we age, robbing us of those childhood joys we could feel when being so absorbed in the present. In the 20-year-old scramble to adulthood it may be harder to be present, there may be more obstacles of responsibility and relationships or other distractions that may leave us more in our head than in the moment of the world around us. At 40 years old those who have children and enjoy parenthood may notice how quick the years seem to be going as they watch their children grow. They tell them to slow down and stop growing so fast; they seem to savor more of their time as parents who are needed to help meet their children’s needs like an infant or a child. In their 60s people seem to slow down a bit, not rushing in the grocery store, not rushing in the restaurant, not rushing that small talk conversation with the stranger they ran into, and valuing some important relationships differently in the past knowing that they were nearer to that final chapter.
Being aware that some things are not infinite can sometimes give things more shiny quality. Like an art exhibit that’s only there for a few months, when the fair comes to town, or having a vacation. We can become more amused if we are able to see it now before it goes away and have this privileged view of the experience. Savoring those moments and staying in those moments can be more enriching or meaningful.
Just because something is definite does not make it something that is less important or less meaningful than something infinite, but if we are to combat this feeling of time going faster we have to learn to practice being present in the moment. Whether that is the cliché of putting the phone down, making more eye contact, or sitting in more silence together. Practicing being present means sitting more in your senses. You can’t smell something in the past. You can’t taste something in the future. You can’t touch anything that isn’t in the right now. You can’t see anything in the past or future. Our senses only exist in our present moment. When we’re focusing on our senses were practicing being. If we were to practice being maybe we could help our perception of time accelerate less and enjoy our moments with more patience.
Sometimes when we lack presence in our current moment, it feels like a hamster wheel where we can’t get off because we are consistently being pulled past thoughts or future ones and that hinders our existence in the present. Mindfulness practice is not always easy at first, it goes against our societal norms at times. Our norms focus so much on productivity and outcomes that the practice of being can be viewed as pointless or frivolous, but this practice though yielding no project or reward gives one space that they can’t have in such a goal oriented world. When the goal is to sit and be and be in the moment, that is where we can feel centered and grounded. It is such an evidence-based practice that increases positive mental health outcomes such as self-esteem, life satisfaction, and feelings of contentment.
Often, past regret can get in the way of our future. When we focus on the present and give it a chance to just be we practice mindfulness. If you would like to learn more about the practice of mindfulness, develop skills for mindfulness and other helpful coping skills, implement it into your daily life and resonate with the feeling that it is hard to be in the now talking with someone and beginning mindfulness practices is a good way to start. Please contact Life Enhancement Counseling Services at 407-443-8862 to schedule an appointment with one of our experienced mental health counselors.