Life is about being in time not just on timeNov 15, 2021
Time feels luxurious as we smell the flowers a loved one bought us; time feels urgent as we contemplate the impact of climate breakdown. Time feels spacious as we ‘bathe’ (mindfully walk) in a quiet forest; time feels collapsed as we read an email with bad news.
The difference is palpable after nearly two years of this pandemic. For many of us, our days are filling back up even as time often feels like it is standing still. Even as we resume ‘normal’ activities, they no longer feel quite as normal as before. In this liminal, in-between time, we are creating our future by the choices we make.
One key to our success is to deepen our connection to time as kairos rather than simply return to the treadmill of time as chronos. We don’t need more time as much as we need to create a new relationship with the time they have. More time is one thing that Amazon cannot deliver . . .
The ancient Greeks recognized two concepts of time: Chronos represents linear, orderly, and measured time. Kairos refers to the unique significance of the time and place in which an event occurs. Kairos represents an awakening to what is most imminent, the deeper reality and rhythm, and the potential of here and now.
Kairos is captured exquisitely in the immortal words of William Blake:
To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour
Our outer world of scheduling, contracting, and invoicing is driven by chronos and the rational preferences of our left hemisphere. However, our inner world is instinctually organized around kairos and the relational preferences of our right hemisphere. The pandemic has challenged us on both fronts.
Here are two practices to help you restore a whole sense of time:
- When you feel an urge to consume (perhaps driven by ‘not enough’) — pause to be more conscious of this moment (a recognition of ‘enough’).
- Sit by moving water or in a quiet space — and notice your body and your breath relaxing into the rhythm of your environment.
Living more fully from kairos helps us to step into any moment with clients, loved ones, and others to liberate its potential for growth.