For many years now, I’ve been curious about time.
It started one day about ten years ago. I had left Yahoo! the previous year, just created my coaching practice, and was new to building a business. I had a number of questions running through my mind, the most prominent being, 'How could I find clients?'
Driven by a bit of anxiety, I slipped back into some very old work patterns and my self-care became almost non-existent. I cut my daily meditations short or skipped them altogether. I didn’t take walks or do any other exercise. I started setting up meetings with anyone I could think of in my LinkedIn profile. I didn’t return my personal emails and almost lost touch with friends. I skipped meals and found myself going to bed at 2am. I was exhausted.
Fast Forward Into the Fast Lane
And all the while my life sped up. And not in that ‘flow’ kind of way where we lose our sense of time and there's a natural ease, but the other kind of speeding up. The one where it feels like you’re hurling through the world and the world is hurling itself back at you.
It all seemed to be going endlessly out of control. The more emails I sent out, the more appeared in my inbox. The more business calls I made, the more people called me out of the blue for what appeared to be random requests. The more meetings I set up, the more scheduling conflicts and cancellations I had.
I was confused. I was ‘getting out there’ and looking for new business. I was doing all of those marketing outreach strategies that I had always been told to do…that I had encouraged my clients to do! Why was everything suddenly exploding on me? Whatever business I was creating turned into busyness. Everything seemed to be going a million miles an hour but nothing seemed to be getting done.
Hitting the Pause Button
At one point I saw in my mind’s eye a massive ball of energy that was starting to spin out of control. I was both the ball of energy and the one spinning it from the outside. Every movement I made, email I sent, meeting I set up, was all part of that spinning ball. The more busyness I created, the faster the ball went, and the more urgent I felt about time.
I paused and for the first time got curious about what was really happening. For a brief moment of what felt like total freedom, I stopped judging myself.
Then it clicked. What if I was actually able to control time, or at least my experience of it? And not only that, but what if the flow of experiences that were happening to me were actually stemming from me?
Anything was better than the state I had gotten myself into. So, I started to experiment.
Creating a Conscious Shift
First, I decided to speed everything up for a few hours, just to see. Sure enough, everything intensified: more emails, more calls, more cancellations. Was I going crazy? Was this really true?
And at that moment I decided I had enough. I finally slowed down.
I got up and went to meditate for an hour. I canceled a bunch of meetings that didn’t feel right. I took the rest of the day off.
At first, it was extremely painful. I felt like I was going through a detox program as I let go of the busyness. However, I stayed connected to my awareness & curiosity and began to ask myself: If I could create an outer world that looked as if ‘random’ events were bombarding me, and time was speeding out of control, then maybe I could adjust my inner world to create a more natural flow of experiences.
So, I kept at it.
I sat down and wrote out my intentions for the next six months. I canceled more meetings, said no to more requests, and said yes to the ones that I felt were more aligned with my intentions. I took a day off from work and spent the time cleaning my place, my car, and giving away stuff I didn’t need. Slowly, I got back to my daily self-practices and exercise routines. I cleaned out my email and called people back who contacted me. I finally attended to my real needs and then put more care into others.
I let go of the fear of what would happen next.
A New World Revealed
For the first time in a while, I experienced more stillness in myself, almost a sense of timelessness. And after a while, it happened: my outer world changed. My email communication returned to normal, the right people were coming into my life, and I was actually getting more things done with less effort. Time no longer felt like an enemy that needed to be managed. I felt more at ease and more rested.
Of course, it took many years for me to experience that level of ease and flow in a more consistent way. It was almost as if I was initially allowed entrance into what felt like a timeless state for the sole purpose of knowing that it was there, and could be accessed at any time if I chose to. The potentiality of it at any moment became very real to me.
To this day, I continue to experiment.
Could it be that the more we attend to our self-care and act from a place of inner guidance on what's most aligned for us in each moment, the more flow and synchronicity we experience in our lives? That's certainly been my experience.
I invite you to start experimenting with your relationship with time.
What does it open up for you?
Ryan Rigoli is a coach, consultant and musician based in northern California. More of his writing and other info on his website.
Embark on a deep exploration of your own relationship to time, success, and meaning on The Integral Path, a 2-day workshop in San Francisco.