Finding Time by Dr. Melissa West

Written by Dr. Melissa West
When I asked my yoga students what the biggest challenge they faced in their lives, the answer that came up again and again was time. Finding time to practice, not having enough time, time management, and time pressure. Not only that, but because of the continual pressures of time that many people experience in their lives, many reported it difficult to be present to their practice when they actually do show up to practice.
Apparently 99.5% of people with electricity have televisions. According to the A.C. Nielson Co. the average American watches more than four hours of t.v. a day. Now please don’t check out here, because this is not going to be a slap on the wrist for watching too much television. Quite the contrary.

According to Amadea Morningstar in her book, Ayurvedic Cooking for Westerners, research done at the Australian National University found that t.v. has two paradoxical effects.

  1. Television induces a more passive state of mind
  2. Television trains the brain to become accustomed to much faster changes of sequences than those found in nature

A few weeks ago I joined my daughter to watch a bit of a movie called, Cars 2. The movie was a non-stop barrage to the senses. I began counting the scene/frame changes and found that no scene was longer than five seconds. Not only that, but a lot of the time the scenes/perspective changed at a rate of one scene per second. (And we wonder why our boys are being diagnosed with ADD and ADHD?)

Amadea Morningstar says that “We are being mentally trained to move at a pace much different than nature’s.” This gives us the illusion of not having enough time, of not getting enough done, of not being efficient enough. This illusion is one of the faces of maya.

Take, for example, the home renovation programs that are popular on television. It is not unusual for a home to be completely renovated in a 45-minute television hour. In truth it takes weeks, months, and a lot more human-power than the “star” of the show to get the job done.

Amadea Morningstar asks, “How many of us will have the patience to receive the communication nature offers? How many of us will be able to? How many of us are nature illiterates?”

I would ask, how has our culture and media programed us into beliving that everything is a time panic? That things shouldn’t take that much time?

Let’s take another television example that I enjoy, Cupcake Wars. In the first round of the program, contestants are asked to create a brand new and unique cupcake based on a flavour challenge in only 45-minutes. In the second round, contestants have 75-minutes to make three cupcakes with distinct tastes. Finally in the third round contestants are asked to make 1000 cupcakes in only two hours!!!!! (Even in the original episode they had four hours).

The entire program is based on this ideology of an ongoing “time-crunch.” Contestants run around in a panic for the entire show. The show breaks to interviews with contestants that say they have no idea how they’ll get the cupcakes done on time. Contestants are shown under extreme time pressure, cupcakes often don’t have enough time to cook-through, and the host continually shouts out count-downs of time. Not only that, but one of the main sound-effects of the show is a siren-like alarm-bell loop that plays reminding us of the lack of time left as the camera pans to an actual clock that counts down time like a ticking time-bomb.

The mantra of “I/We don’t have enough time!” is an extremely prevalent one in our culture. No wonder we are in such a panic!

I would suggest that in coming to yoga we need to shift our experience and intention around time. As you come to your yoga mat, to what extent is it possible to rest into an expanded sense of time? How can you use your yoga practice as a way to practice a different pace?

Often times in the Yoga Sutras, aparigraha gets translated as non-hoarding or non-possessiveness. In the context of time, I wonder what it would be like to take on Nischala Joy Devi’s description “awareness of abundance and fulfillment.” Nischala Joy Devi says, “Acknowledging abundance, we recognize the blessings in everything.” To what extent is it possible to begin to recognize the blessing of an abundance in the time available to us each and every day? Now that would be a powerful sadhana (spiritual practice).

Help from the Spirit-World

Fortunately we don’t have to go at this alone. Why not call on help from the spirit world? Staying with the idea of abundance, ask the Goddess of abundance, Lakshmi, to bless you with an abundance of time. Ask Ganesh, the remover of obstacles, to remove all time obstacles for you, especially any obstacles that get in the way of finding time to practice your yoga. Finally Kali, the Goddess of time and transformation can help you as well. Kali will destroy anything that gets in the way of your spiritual development if you ask for her help, I can’t imagine why that wouldn’t include time restraints. Kali also removes all ignorance; the illusions of maya. In truth we have more than enough time for our spiritual practice and she will make it so if we call on her.

Personally I think what is most needed is to remove ourselves from the strong-hold of maya and the illusion that we don’t have enough time. It is time for a new mantra, “I have more than enough time for everything I need and want to do.”

You can visit the website of Dr. Melissa West HERE.

A huge thank you to Melissa for being my guest writer today, and sharing this article and video with us!

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