Perceptions of Time
The reality of time never changes; but the perception of time does change. Gradually, as the mind processes the experiences of living in the world, an emotional body of past is formed. When emotional attachments to past experience are discarded, an individual moves that much closer to the optimum point of the present; this is registered as a broadening of the perception and clarity of mind. This can happen naturally whenever immersed in a creative activity, and time can seem to fly. The opposite happens when bored or fed up; time then slows to a crawl and living becomes a trudge in time.
The perception of time is recognised by many people as being different as a child to that of an adult. In a young child, the concept of time has yet to be formulated in a way that happens with the experience of the years of living. Because there’s no sense of any beginning or end as a defining line, there are no conclusions in the child’s mind. Life simply unfolds as whatever is presented to the senses. Young children exist mostly as beings of the present and respond to life with a spontaneity and freedom that only becomes stifled as they become self-conscious of themselves and of the emotional reaction of others. It’s to have the experience of an adult but also the spontaneity and freedom that children express – hence the saying, ‘to be innocent is to be like a little child again’.
As the person matures, the progression of life, together with the anticipatory emotional energy to events, anniversaries, and everyday affairs such as a favourite meal or TV programme, generates a speeding up of the time frame between sequences of existence. But this is merely an artificially induced effect of time speeding up. When we go to sleep and enter the dream state, there’s a natural shift to a swifter time gradient. Freed of the cumbersome physical form, the conservation of energy enables things to happen much more quickly and with far greater freedom of movement. The next level is deep dreamless sleep, where we are never more content. At this level of mind we are as close to the present as is possible until death of the physical form. Sometimes on waking up, for a split second we are conscious of the appearance of the room without any reference to the past. Only what is being perceived is real in the immediacy of the moment; this is similar to the perception of the child and of the realised state of consciousness.
Delving deeper into the nature of time and the living process, we can observe that in the mature adult there’s usually a natural slowing down of the busyness that was characteristic of the drive of youth into the world of experience. As someone approaches death in older age they are energetically preparing for the death process, although mostly at an unconscious level of mind. As the life essence gradually withdraws deeper into the abstract levels of the psyche, the comprehension of time speeds up; and the person willingly, and with a deepening knowledge of peace, surrenders the burden of the world.