Monday 18th October 2021

Unusual*. Here’s Time Part 2* Instead. 38/51. #LifeThisWeek. 115/2021.

Unusual*. Here’s Time Part 2* Instead. 38/51. #LifeThisWeek. 115/2021.

Rather than go with the word ‘unusual’ for the optional prompt, it’s Part Two: Time…and this is a post from my husband Bernard who recently wrote ‘on prompt’ Time here. 

For those who may need a refresher about Bernard, his first post for the blog is found here. 

Thank you Bernard for offering more of your thoughts, experiences and wisdom.

Can you believe how much TIME had passed since we did this trip back to Tamworth? No, me neither. Enough chit-chat.

Bit early…Celebrating 50 years since we met: October 2020.

 

Part 2: The Time Is NOW

 Thanks for re-joining me in this moment of time.

Time has many metaphors. Lydia talked about the very interesting wheel of time. I like the metaphor that sees time as a never-ending and continual flow of water such as the surf. At any point, by dipping your hand in the water, you experience the drops of water at that time. Those drops represent the moments that you have available to you at that time; the only moments. You notice that they can be very difficult to hold onto and how quickly the water flows on never to be experienced again. They symbolise the ‘ah-hah’ moments in our lives.

 

This experience sets of a “ah-hah’ moment as you realise just how precious and limited your time is.

This really impresses you. It is a lightning strike moment. It is the NOW effect (Goldstein)!

 

Well-known holocaust survivor and psychiatrist Dr Victor Frankl  talked of the space that exists between stimulus and response.

In that space you have the power to choose your response. This enables our personal growth and freedom.

Elisha Goldstein, PhD., talks of this as our NOW time, sometimes described as ‘ah-hah’ moments that can change our lives.

For example, you may hear of a friend’s death.

At this time you are reminded of the love you feel for family.

Or hear that your part of the world is to be shut down because of nasty viral pandemic.

Whatever the stimulus, the NOW space turns our minds and hearts to what we really value in life.

There’s the argument that, in the fullness of time, we will come to realise how it has had the Now Effect of re-focussing us on what we really value.

 

So, what are the possible outcomes of this ‘ah-hah’ moment. Hopefully that:

 

  • You understand your life is a constant stream of stimuli and responses.
  • You realise that, by attending to the present you can take full advantage of the space to change what is not currently working for you in your life.
  • You understand that the significance of your life is not tied to the acquisition of material things and social status. That it is totally about the quality of the relationships you have with other human beings, especially those closest to you.
  • You realise that attending too much to past events is detracting from the present with the added deficit of possibly sending you down those old rabbit holes and causing distress.
  • You realise that, what is now history, is NOW, no longer within your control.
  • You are aware that worrying about what’s going to happen in the future sucks as you cannot control it either.
  • You understand the only moments you can control, albeit, with varying degrees of difficulty, are those that you are living in right NOW.

 

Views on time.

William Penn (founder of Pennsylvania) believed that “ time was what we most want and yet, use worst”.

While I tend to agree, I also believe that it doesn’t have to be that way.

In fact, it’s fair to say that there are many people who would feel a little offended by the statement.

People, such as those who have taken the conscious decision to organise their present moments with a view to living their lives most efficiently and effectively. In so doing, they maximise their feeling of contentment.

 

In all likelihood, these people will tick most of the following boxes:

 

  • They understand and welcome full ownership of their allocation of time.
  • They accept that those moments will contain ups and downs but are happy to take what’s on offer.
  • They also understand that that time is THEIRS to control as they see fit.
  • They look forward to the opportunity to spend more time in the NOW space.
  • When triggers occur they take advantage of that space to respond thoughtfully with generosity of spirit and kindness of heart, rather that react with negative emotion.
  • They understand that the pressure time can create is minimised commensurately by their level of efficiency in the use of their time.
  • They understand the need to take time away from their ‘doing selves’ to just ‘be’. After all, we are, first and foremost, human beings!
  • They understand that their quality of life is enhanced by paying attention to every moment with curiosity, openness and flexibility.
  • They understand that living mindfully in the present is key to enhancing quality of life.

These realisations – ‘ah-hah’ moments – emanate from being present and engaged. They come from seeing ‘doing’ and ‘being’ as mutually important in their lives. Living mindfully in the present is not difficult. However, like learning to play a musical instrument, it requires practice!  Try the exercises below. They just may help.

Being present and engaged exercise …

 

  1. Take thirty seconds to sit back, relax and simply notice all that you can hear. Firstly, focus on your own breathing and any of your movements. Then, expand your awareness to sounds around you appreciating them as a musician appreciates music noticing differences in volume, pitch, rhythms, harmonies, diminuendos and crescendos.

 

  1. Now, take thirty seconds to look around and notice five things that you can see. Notice each image’s shape, colour, texture, shading, shadows, reflections and highlights. Look at each with the curiosity of never having seen it before.

 

  1. Now, sit up straight and notice the position of your body. Push down firmly on the floor, straighten your spine and relax your shoulders. Take thirty seconds to scan your body from head to toe noticing the feeling in each part. Do this with curiosity of a radiologist looking at an x-ray.

 

  1. Finally, take another thirty seconds to flexibly focus your attention, moving from your body to what you can see and then to what you can hear.

 

 Reflect: What did you notice happen? Did you become more present; more aware of your body and surroundings?

 

Some Simple Ways to Be Present

Strategies to practise daily that centre you and connect you with the world around you; especially when you find yourself hooked by thoughts and feelings.

  1. Take Ten Breaths
  • Take ten slow, deep breaths. Focus on completely emptying your lungs as slowly as possible. The, allow them to refill by themselves.
  • Notice the emptying and refilling sensations of your lungs. Notice what happens with your rib cage and shoulders.
  • Try to allow any thoughts to float down the stream or come and go as passing cars.
  • Expand your awareness to simultaneously noticing your breathing and body movements. The, observe all that you can hear, see, smell, touch and feel.
  1. Dropping Anchor
  • Plant your feet into the floor.
  • Push them down noticing the feel of the supportive floor beneath you.
  • Notice the muscle tension in your legs as you push down.
  • Notice what is happening in your whole body.
  • Look around and take in what you can see, hear, where you are and what you’re doing.
  1. Notice Five Things
  • Pause for a moment
  • Look around and note five things you can see.
  • Listen carefully to hear five
  • Note five things that you can feel in contact with your body, e.g. watch against your wrist, trousers against your legs, air touching your face, back against the chair, feet on the floor, etc.
  • Now, do all the above simultaneously.

 

A final offering from one of the very wise Buddhas.

‘Do not dwell in the past, nor to dream of the future but, to concentrate the mind on the present moment’.

What better way to illustrate this than an image from Bernard’s daily practice of adding to a challenging jigsaw puzzle.

Thank you once again for a post which is of great interest to us all. I know I needed that refresher and I promise fewer questions and sharing from my social media while you are mindfully engaged in your jigsaw.

Denyse.

Link Up #258.

Life This Week. Link Up #258.

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Comments

  1. Thank you, Bernard, for your wise Time insights. I really like the metaphor of continual flow of water. I’ve read a few of Vicktor Frankl quotes and made a note to borrow his book from the library. Your suggestions of exercises and strategies to be present are very good ones. I do some of them in my daily meditation and when I go outside to be with nature. Thank you Denyse for hosting #LifeThisWeek.

    • Glad you have found this post of interest too Natalie.

      Thank you for linking up.

      Bernard will be replying during the week ahead.

      Take care,

      Denyse.

    • G’day Natalie,

      Thanks for your response. I find water, especially moving water, such a calming medium. The stresses flow out and into the sea when I stand in the surf.
      Glad you found the strategies helpful.

      Kind regards,
      Bernard.

  2. This is a truly thought provoking post Bernard. The paragraph “You realise that attending too much to past events…..” really made me stop and think. Thanks Denyse for handing over to Bernard again

    • I am glad you found this post of interest Jennifer.

      Bernard will be replying in the week ahead.

      Take care,

      Denyse.

    • Hi Jennifer,

      Thanks for taking the MOMENT to read the post. I appreciated the opportunity to write it. Being too invested in past events can certainly make the present more challenging.

      Kind regards,

      Bernard.

  3. Oh yes – the space between stimulus and response……or in my case thinking about it and doing it.
    Really interesting post today Bernard. You’ve given us much to read and absorb so I’m coming back to read again as I’m sure I haven’t taken it all in this time
    Take care
    Cathy

    • I am someone who needs to read, then re-read these days too.

      I am glad it resonated….

      Bernard will be replying during the week.

      Take care,

      Denyse.

    • Hi Cathy,

      Thanks for your generous comment. I don’t know how it is for you, Cathy, but I find it difficult to stop in that space immediately after the trigger so I can respond rather than. Like most behavioural changes, it requires practice.

      Kind regards,

      Bernard

  4. Interesting. I’m an existentialist so I have an uneasy relationship with time – I panic about missing out (on doing all the stuff I want to do in my life – lockdon has exacerbated this a bit). However, in the normal world, it makes me really make the most of my time.
    The see 5 things is an anxiety technique to ground you – my youngest was taought that to stop her thoughts running away with her.
    Time is a very fascinating intangible that we have a relationship with throughout out lives, and most people don’t even consider it beyond ‘age’. It’s funny.
    Good post. I like your wave analogy about not being able to get the moment back.

    • Lots to read in your comment Lydia and I know Bernard is planning to reply during the week.

      Thanks for sharing!

      Take care,

      Denyse.

    • Hi Lydia,

      Thanks for you very thoughtful comment. You would be a most interesting person to have a philosophical chat with!

      That FOMO can be a real challenge for some. Do you think lockdown may have contributed to a greater focus on what really matters is NOW?

      Kind regards,

      Bernard.

  5. Hi Bernard – another thought provoking post. I enjoyed Viktor Frankel’s thoughts when I read his book – how we choose to respond to what life serves us is definitely a huge factor in how we perceive whether we’re happy or content or okay with life. I’ve also come to appreciate the idea of living in the present and letting the past and future take care of themselves. It reduces my worrying significantly and makes me a lot more grateful for what I have each day. On top of that I keep eternity in mind – I don’t believe we live and die for no reason – having a bigger picture and an eternal perspective helps it all make more sense to me.

    • Oh Leanne, yes to much of what you write about here!

      Bernard will be replying during the week.

      Take care,

      Denyse.

    • Hello Leanne,

      Thanks for your very encouraging response. It sounds to me like you have really found the living mindfully state. More power to you! What a wonderful example you are to those who are creating so much social havoc with their selfish and destructive ways during this time when our global focus needs to be fixed steadfastly on doing all we can to collaborate and reap some positive outcomes that will encourage feelings of hope and gratitude.
      Super dooper stuff, Leanne!

      Kind regards,

      Bernard.

  6. Hello Bernard, lately I’ve been contemplating time and that there are not as many sunsets ahead of my husband and I compared to those that have passed. We are currently going through a difficult period as my husband endeavours to finalise his Mother’s estate which has now been contested. At 73, I feel he doesn’t need this as his quality time is now more important for him to use wisely but alas that is not to be at the moment. I enjoyed your Drop the Anchor exercise and like you my daughter who works from home, has a jigsaw in her office and tries to complete a few pieces as a stress release during her busy day. Thanks for your insight. Take care. #lifethisweek

    • Very thought-filled response Sue. Thank you so much.

      Bernard will be replying during the week.

      Take care,

      Denyse.

      • Hi Sue,

        Thank you for jumping on board with this! While it is true that you cannot expect to see the sun set as many times as was the case say ten years ago, the focus needs be on ‘playing’ each and every one of those sunsets. The question is not around the number you have left but how much you can experience and enjoy each one, especially as the come around more and more quickly as we grow older. This is experiencing the NOW and embracing its effect.
        I really hope the current difficulties don’t compromise your enjoyment of life too much. There’s nothing like money issues to cause relationship dysfunction. Stay focused on what really matters for you and your husband.

        Kind regards,

        Bernard.

  7. Can I just say a massive thank you to Bernard for this fabulous (& dare I say it) timely post.

    • You can…and you did!

      Thank you Jo.

      Bernard will be replying during the week.

      Take care,

      Denyse.

    • Hi Joanne,

      What a timely comment! I readily give you permission to say a massive thank you to Bernard. It is gratefully accepted and, in response, he says “right back at ya!’ I’m really pleased you found it worked for you.

      Kind regards,

      Bernard.

  8. I enjoyed reading this post. Thank you and that puzzle looks like a long tale of perseverance.

    • That’s good to know Shiju. Thank you.

      The man doing this post has interests like these and I do not have any skills at all.

      Bernard will be replying during the week.

      Take care,

      Denyse.

    • Hello Shiju,

      Thank you for taking the time to read the post. Glad you enjoyed it.

      Perseverance is certainly the key word, as is the case with many of our challenges.

      Kind regards,

      Bernard.

  9. I continually work on being in the now. I was a huge second guesser, reliving past moments with “if I only” thinking. I am still a huge planner, thinking through all iterations of what-if to make sure things go smoothly. So being in the now is a WIP! I just started (again) a daily meditation program. So will see if that helps! It’s started with the breath and anchoring… just like you mention. I love when serendipity shares the same things with me from multiple sources!

    • Oh I love that too Patricia, when you get those kinds of messages from different sources.

      I too do that pulling back from the what ifs better than I used to..definitely a WIP as well.

      Bernard will be replying during the week.

      Take care,

      Denyse.

    • Hello Patricia,

      Thanks for taking the time to read the post. One of our biggest challenges in life as we seek a state of contented living, is to minimise the amount of uncertainty that surrounds us. So, the best way to do that is to remain fixated in the present, focusing on doing what works for us. It’s not easy and requires a lot of attention. Meditating is an excellent way to do this. Both serendipity and synchronicity are cool, if not a little spooky!
      Seems like your work in this work is progressing well, Patricia. More power to you. It will ultimately become automatic with great benefits.

      Kind regards,

      Bernard.

  10. I love working on puzzles! I try to have one set up on our dining table through the fall and winter when we spend more time inside due to the ice and snow. I often try to embrace the now though I am still one to fret over the future even though I do realize that my worry does nothing to change it. I try to breathe and let those worries go as much as I can.

    • Snap to puzzles being a great way to distract and be mindful, Joanne.

      I am so “not into them” because I am more interested in art but I admire those who are, and my husband’s skills at doing these because you need to “imagine” what the scene is. It’s called a WASGIJ : opposite of jigsaw!

      Bernard will be replying during the week.

      Take care,

      Denyse.

    • Hi Joanne,

      Doing puzzles is for me the equivalent of meditating with similar benefits. Mediation is wonderful practice for remaining fixed in the present. In so doing, you reduce the amount of uncertainty in your life. This impacts very positively on the quality of that life. What happens in the future will be largely determined by how well you live in the present. I like your focus on breathing. Our breath is a remote control for the brain. Also, don’t forget the value of exercising in one of mother nature’s abundant parks. Keep on keeping on!

      Kind regards,

      Bernard.

  11. Wow Denyse, what a wise man your Bernard is! This post is one to be savoured over several sittings I think as there is so much to absorb. From my first reading I like the wave analogy, the anchoring and activities to be in the present and seeing that by attending too much to past events detracts from the present…so very true. Living in the now is something we should never take for granted but unfortunately we seem to do that all too often. I am one who worries about the future and know I have no control over what happens but I also know that i can control how I deal with that angst, but it’s hard!

    So much wisdom and I have to tell you, my wise man also has a difficult jigsaw on the go whoch helps keep him grounded at times. Thanks again Bernard and Denyse!

    • I am glad the post is one to dip in and out of. Its that kind of help we all need reminders in most days if not all.

      I am better at getting too concerned about what I cannot change but it sure is a struggle at times.

      Like you, as I imagine, not being able to connect in person with those we love is a huge area of uncertainty.

      Yet, here we are, doing and being what we can “now” the only time we have…as we know!

      Bernard will be replying during the week…and here’s the our men and their challenging jigsaws.

      Take care,

      Denyse.

    • Hey Debbie,

      Would you be so kind as to say that introductory line of yours again, only much louder this time! You are really too generous and thank you!
      You are absolutely correct, Debbie, when you say it’s hard. It can be very difficult in the early stages of shifting your focus from the past or the future, especially if you’ve had health or relationship or financial challenges to deal with. It’s like learning to play a musical instrument – practice, practice, practice! Up there near the top of the difficulty tree is a branch called, “Just Be”. Now, that is hard, especially if you’ve been a doer all your life, and demands much practice. Meditating is a very good strategy for just being.

      Stay tuned, Debbie. There’s another post coming in about a month.

      Kind regards,

      Bernard.

  12. I don’t have a comment but feel I have to comment for linky politeness. These type of posts marinate for me so I’ll have thoughts in the future probably!

    • Thank you for your good manners Vanessa and on the day that it’s the last ep of Rosehaven, I understand 100%.

      Denyse.

    • Hi Vanessa,

      I love that you’re allowing the post to ‘marinate’, Vanessa; an excellent word in this context. I’ll be very interested to see what this marinating process reveals. I hope it’s helpful and works for you.

      Kind regards,

      Bernard.

  13. Thanks Bernard for your post and insights. I agree that time us something we value very highly and yet waste so much of it. Well I’m guilty as charged though really do try to be in the moment and enjoy what’s going on around me. Enjoy your time !!

    • Hi Christine,

      Thanks for spending time reading the post and commenting. I wonder whether the wasting comes from the perception that there’s always ‘plenty of time’! When you get to my age the harsh reality that there is not comes crashing home. So, perhaps it’s a case of ‘waste not, want not’!

      May you also enjoy your moments!

      Kind regards,

      Bernard.

    • Thanks so much for your comment…time is such a thing…and right now, as I have heard latest Covid news, more TIME to wait till I can visit Dad in Sydney from the Central Coast.

      Take care,

      Denyse.

  14. Thanks Bernard! Given that I tell my clients a lot of this, I try and practise it myself too. I struggle with mindful meditation but I find it easier to be present with something concrete. Just yesterday, I had a client ask me if jigsaw puzzles were a mindful activity – and I love how it can be. Thanks for your insights – I’ve read Frankl and took a lot from his book years ago. Need to find Goldstein’s book now.

    • Hello Sanch,

      It’s great to finally talk with you – albeit virtually – after all these years of hearing Sanch stories from Denyse.
      Thank you for taking time to read and comment on the post. Staying focused in the “now” can certainly be challenging. I think like many suggestions and therapies, you use what works for you and enhances your quality of life your life. I’m sure you’d agree, Sanch, that visualising and reflecting play an important role in a healthy life.
      Jigsaw and crossword puzzling, gardening, any activity that engages our minds fully, is great.
      Elijah Goldstein’s book is called The Now Effect. You’d be more than welcome to borrow mine if you’re ever in the area when we become “unrestricted”. Or, mailing it would be another option. If you prefer the latter, just let Denyse know and I’ll make it happen.

      Kind regards,

      Bernard.

    • Just read Bernard’s comment and was going to suggest this book for you…when/if you would like it.

      Elijah also has podcasts and his own versions of meditation as I recall. He was very helpful for me back in 2016 -2017 times…staying in the NOW being so hard.

      Take care,

      Denyse.

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