I’ve been contemplating time, and trying out some meditations, which I feel are worth sharing.
I’ve asked people in my classes before now ‘in which direction does time travel?’. It’s a kind of koan, as it challenges the mind, but of course the answer is that there is no answer; there is no direction.
If we think of the flow of events as river, time can be seen as the flowing water. This is normally the way we think of it. Alternatively, we can consider that time is the river bed, past which events move. This latter analogy is the one I find interesting.
In this scenario, time does not move; it is the still point past which events move and change. If we now leave the river analogy, time can be seen as a neutral unchanging viewpoint, from which awareness witnesses the ever-changing arising and dissolving of moments of manifestation.
So the meditation is along these lines. You become the still point, from which anything that arises and changes, or dissolves, is witnessed around you. That can be your breathing, a plane flying past, or the sound the fridge makes. You don’t need to get involved, you’re just a neutral observer, with no comment or judgement, and unaffected by all that arises and dissolves.
This is pure mindfulness.
By the way, the arising and dissolving can also mean things moving, because if you take a snapshot of a moving train, for example, then again one second later, it has moved, of course, and all the people inside it have moved, so from a moment-to-moment perspective it’s a new assemblage in space/time of its component atoms. However brief those moments are cut, even if infinitely small, it’s always subtly changing. Nothing stays the same, ever, apart from time itself.
So now take the meditation further. Take ‘you’ out of the equation. Just experience the awareness experiencing all this ever changing manifestation. Rest there. If it gets a bit scary, step back to you, breathe, then drop in again. Short moments of insight are better than holding on for dear life.
Enjoy the meditations.
Then when you’re back at work with an irritating colleague or dealing with the builder who’s just messed up the new bathroom, see if something of this non-reactiveness is useful. It may just give you a moment of clarity to step back and focus on what’s really important, with a bit more patience, and stop you wasting energy on the small stuff.