How to Destroy Time Famine With Meditation

Never think “I don’t have enough time” again.

Time = Life. There’s no getting around that fact, is it? The more time you have, the more you can spend it on the things that matter.

But interestingly enough, we seem to have less and less time on our hands. We can get our food delivered, put on a movie, and reply to messages, without even lifting a finger. Thanks to Alexa and the power of voice recognition.

Yet, even though all our needs (and much more) are being met with the least effort in human history, we starve for time. The reason? We’re addicted to getting things done.

Tell me this. Have you ever felt like there’s not enough time in the day? That if only you had 36 or 48 hours, you can get all your work done?

Then you, my friend, know what time famine feels like. Put simply, it’s the feeling of not having enough time to do everything you want to do.

You might not know the name for this feeling till now, but look around and you’ll find almost everyone afflicted with this disease.

As a society, we’ve come to value *doing something *all the time as a sign of productivity. We’ve forgotten that we’re human beings, not human doings. A major reason behind our addiction to busyness is the link between our self-worth and how busy we appear.

It’s easy to feel satisfied and productive just because you spend 18 hours at the office. I know what that feeling is, and it’s good. But the fact of the matter is, no matter how much time you spend working, there’s always more to do.

In fact, ironically, the people who work the hardest have more things to do than the people who may not work as ‘hard’ (whatever that means).

In the past few decades, many researchers have studied this phenomenon. And why shouldn’t they? When downtime in people’s life ceases to exist and stress levels increase to all-time highs, it’s worth paying attention to.

It’s not that we somehow have a need for distraction greater than the past generations. No. Our need may only be a little higher. But the tools in our hands and pockets make it even easier for that need to express itself at an ever-increasing pace.

Studies show that as a result of working in environments that promote “more is always more”, we instill a reward system in our minds. This reward system makes us peg our value to the amount of time we work for. In such workplaces and cultures, everything is urgent. And when everything is urgent, nothing is.

Thus, workers spend their time focusing on how to reply to every email and IM while barely doing the work they’re being paid for. This leads to a crisis mentality where workers feel “There just isn’t enough time!”

It’s Not a Matter of Fact

I’ve had the feeling of not having enough time in the day for years now.

In high school, I managed my morning classes, extra tuition, double homework, being the head of the commerce club, and going for drama competitions. In college, I ran my startup, learned how to code, went to music competitions, and helped in various social entrepreneurship projects.

And now, more than ever, I’m swamped with work. I’m a marketing guy in an early-stage startup, I run my own writing business, and I help my spiritual community spread their teachings and sell more products.

Yet, I feel more at ease than ever. Why? Because time famine is not an objective truth. It’s not that you need to work a certain number of hours to feel this way.

So time famine is not a fact, it’s a feeling. Meaning, there is enough time in the day to get things done. It’s just that we feel there isn’t.

That’s both good news and bad news. The demons that trouble us, are often inside our head — not just in this problem, but in life.

Circumstances, in other words, are neutral. It’s our reaction that makes them good or bad. Pretty basic right? Well you know what they say, common sense isn’t common.

There are many reasons why we feel starved for time:

  • FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out): Many people keep a tab open with their favorite social media platform just in case there’s an important update. They keep updating their feed lest they miss out on something they want to see. Another facet of FOMO is the feeling of missing out on business opportunities which leads to overwhelm. I’ve struggled with letting good opportunities go in favor of great ones.

  • Blurry Boundaries: Most people (or companies) don’t set the right work boundaries. Small things like disturbing employees on weekends and valuing instant replies over deep work, can quickly lead to a feeling of time famine.

  • Habitual Distraction: Most times, the reason we’re so distracted is we’ve made distraction into a habit. We’re addicted to checking our phones every five minutes, which makes the mind restless all the time.

  • Anxiety To Get Things Done: People like me who want to just get rid of the items on the to-do list can have a hard time stopping. It’s hard to leave something on the next day when you know you can do it today. Yet, it’s often the right thing to do to protect your peace of mind and be productive in the long-term.

It’s clear then, that we need to tackle these issues. Another major reason why we feel starved for time is how we perceive time in reality.

Most of this is feeling anyway, and so it has a lot to do with our perception more than anything else.

When it comes to altering this perception, and simultaneously solving the above issues, meditation can help us a great deal.

When We’re Starved for Time, Meditation Feeds Us

The future is an imagined Now, a projection of the mind. When the future comes, it comes as the Now. When you think about the future, you do it now. Past and future obviously have no reality of their own. Just as the moon has no light of its own, but can only reflect the light of the sun, so are past and future only pale reflections of the light, power, and reality of the eternal present. Their reality is “borrowed” from the Now.” — Eckhart Tolle

Time and Space are actually a delusion. Everything happening is happening in the Eternal Now. Great yogis and saints who’ve transcended the material reality realize this truth.

Yet, you don’t need to be at their level to see this for yourself.

Perception of Time

Think about the last time you stood in the queue. Specifically, think just before you felt the uncomfortable sensation that you avoided by pulling your phone out.

Didn’t time seem to slow down? I bet you were wondering why it’s taking so long. Yet, when you looked at your watch, only 2 minutes had passed. Whereas to you, it felt more like 10 or 20.

The point is this — the more we slow down to focus on the present, the more time slows down for us. The culprit here is awareness. The higher your awareness of the present, the more your subjective perception of time is altered.

Now, I’m not an enlightened being. Yet, I’ve felt moments of timelessness in my meditation practice. Moreover, my perception of time is always altered when I meditate. More often than not, it seems longer than it really is.

The craziest part here is that the perception continues with you when you come out of your meditation as well.

Researchers have found that meditators are able to make a distinction between ‘self-duration’ and ‘world-duration.’ In other words, by meditation, you sever the link between your lower and higher self. Thus, as a result of your altered state of consciousness, your experience of time also shifts.

How Your Heart Affects Your Time Perception

Imagine you’re working remotely on a beach. Every evening you take the time to pause and enjoy the sunset. Believe it or not, you’ll then have more perceived time.

Some of us take charge of the time we have and pause to do things. Others let their environment dictate how they spend their time. The more control you have over your time, the more you’ll feel time affluent.

Moreover, spending your time to collect moments of awe:

  • Reduces stress

  • Increases feeling of awe and happiness in your life

And study after study shows that people who have more of such experiences are:

  • Less impatient

  • More willing to volunteer to help others

  • More strongly preferred experiences over material products, and

  • Experienced greater life satisfaction.

It all ties in beautifully since “awe-full” experiences expand our awareness of the present and fill our hearts with joy. And counterintuitively, your heart may guide your time more than your mind.

What Can You Do About It?

As is already clear, the solution is to integrate some form of meditation in your life. The good news is that it can be any type of meditation you like.

I don’t know if the Buddha said this or it just floats around in Zen circles,

“Meditate for 15 minutes. But if you don’t have time, meditate for 1 hour.”

…but it’s true.

I talked a few paragraphs ago about how I’m swamped with work but still feel better than when I had less work. Why is that possible?

Because of meditation. Even though I’m handling so much work that my friends are concerned, I don’t feel so.

The credit goes to my habit of prioritizing meditation every day — two non-negotiable sessions of 1 hour each. Everyone in my family and my office knows I can’t work or live without meditating every day.

But why does it work? You see, with all that we’ve learned above, if you take out the time to meditate, you’re subconsciously affirming time affluence.

Most people say they don’t have the time to meditate. And the way to get more time *is *to meditate.

When you take out time from your hectic life to meditate every day, it’s like you’re saying to your mind, “Hey, don’t worry. We have enough time to get things done.”

This little subconscious affirmation slowly turns into a belief. It takes away all your feelings of not having enough time. Gradually, you’ll start to feel that time is abundant.

So, yes, go and meditate.

Apart from that, there are other small things that can help you in your journey:

  • [Take micro-mindfulness breaks]( Schedule alarms on your phone to remind you to take a moment off every now and then to center yourself. You can take a walk, breathe, stretch, and do tons of other things to slow down and experience awe.

  • Don’t rush: People have a habit of getting up and rushing on autopilot. Yet, it’s bad to start your day by affirming that you’re busy — that’s what you do when you rush. Instead, read for a few minutes, close your eyes, and take your time. The world isn’t going anywhere.

  • Set boundaries: Let people know when you’ll be offline and treat it like any other appointment. Your peace of mind is not only important for you but also for the people you work with. Gradually, you’ll also inspire others to take their peace seriously. This will inevitably lead to more happiness, and most importantly, a feeling of time abundance.

The Takeaway

Time famine is real. And with the world moving faster than ever, more and more people will struggle with it.

Yet, contrary to what you might think, it’s easy to go from feeling restless all the time to feeling in control of your life.

If I could do it, you can too. And once you start to work on it, you’ll find an inner peace that no one can take away from you. Whether you work for 2 hours or 16 hours, doesn’t matter — because your inner life is in control.

So the time to rein in your life is right now. The only question is, will you?

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Written on December 22, 2020