Since my cancer journey began over 3 years ago, I’ve been motivated to live fully while I’m alive, savoring each moment, relishing this precious life. As a result of that, something wonderful has happened: the quality of time has changed for me…time has miraculously expanded! I told a friend about this recently and she, being a busy person who’s always crunched for time, was genuinely intrigued, “How do you do that? How do you expand time?” I started thinking about it: exactly how DO I do that? Here’s what I’ve learned:
The first and most important thing I do is become aware that I’m NOT present. I notice what’s happening in my mind and body: I’m in my head, in the future or past, I’m tense, shallow breathing, not feeling my feet on the ground, and generally having an ‘out of body’ experience. Just the act of noticing brings about more spaciousness.
2. Get over yourself:
I become aware of my posture: When I’m not present, I’m usually either hurtling forward, ungrounded, ahead of myself, or turtling inward, head scrunched down and shoulders raised. I then shift by straightening myself up and reminding myself, “Get over yourself, feel your feet on the ground, and feel yourself solidly over your feet.” Several years ago I was shuffling along, busy in my head about some future event, not aware of my feet on the ground, and I tripped on a crack in the sidewalk. Down I went, HARD, crashing my cheek onto a car bumper on the way down - I was literally grounded! From then on, whenever I walk I become aware of feeling my feet firmly on the ground, with my body over my feet, and, as Thich Nhat Hanh says, “My feet kiss the ground with every step.”
Shallow breaths sustain a shallow life; deep full breaths sustain a deep full life. When I notice my breath is shallow, I take deep, slow, soft breaths, breathing in up through my feet and breathing out down through the top of my head; breathing life and being breathed by life. That instantly delivers me to the spacious present. “He lives most life whoever breathes most air.” –Elizabeth Barrett Browning
In Aldous Huxley’s novel, Island, the myna birds say over and over again, “Here and now boys, here and now.” When I find myself rushing, futuring or past-ing, I say, “Present moment, only moment.” I also say, “No hurry, no worry.” Mindfulness teacher Jon Kabat-Zinn suggests that we say the words “This is it” throughout the day, reminding ourselves that right now is IT!
5. See and Savor:
I look and see where I am and who I’m with, softening my gaze, drinking it all in with present-moment baby eyes. I marvel at my surroundings, “Look at how blue the sky is today”, or “There are so many shades of green in that tree.” I appreciate where I am, relishing what’s present, counting my blessings, thankful for this moment, grateful for this life. I was enjoying a delicious lunch at a Thai restaurant with my husband Tom recently, and suddenly looked up from my food, and feasted my eyes on him, really seeing and appreciating the beautiful soul that he is, and feeling deep gratitude that he is in my life. Tom Yum!
When I’m scurrying about on the hamster wheel of life, time seems infernal; but when I stop spinning and fully embody this moment, time becomes eternal. When I immerse myself in the present moment and savor it like delicious candy, time stretches like taffy into a sweet eternal Nooow!
How about you? Are you feeling starved for time? Or are you at a banquet, fully tasting, savoring, and relishing each moment, having the time of your life?
Janet Jacobsen is the author of the book Oh No, Not Another ‘Growth’ Opportunity! An Inspirational Cancer Journey With Humor, Heart, and Healing. To read more of Janet’s FREE, uplifting, entertaining, and informative essays, as well as the first 4 chapters of her book, go to http://enlightenink.com/.