Written by Joy Livingwell, 7 October 2009
How a person structures “now” on their timeline has a big effect on their quality of life. Two important distinctions about now are:
- the degree to which the person is “in time” or “observing time”, and
- the physical size of “now.”
If now is physically small, the person is likely to feel pressured or harassed, as though there is literally not enough time to get things done.
If now is spacious, they are likely to experience of having plenty of time, even when they have a lot to do and not much actual time available.
If now is enormous, the future may seem irrelevant because it is so small and far away. This works well for meditating, but can cause significant problems in day-to-day life.
I do timeline tune-ups with most clients. One of the last steps is adjusting the size of now.
With the client standing in their usual relationship with their timeline, I ask them, “How big is now, physically?” To help them get a clear sense of now’s size, I might have them show me where it is with gestures. Or I may put my hands about where they describe, ask “Here?”, then adjust my hand position according to their instructions.
I then elicit how they feel about “now” right now. What’s their experience of their relationship with time?
Next I have them make “now” smaller. For almost everyone, that’s an unpleasant experience. They feel they have less time. The tasks they want or need to do may look and feel overwhelming.
After they return now to its original size again, I have them make “now” bigger. Virtually everyone visibly relaxes. The tension goes out of their face and shoulders, and they usually sigh. I have them notice how their experience changes as they keep making “now” bigger and bigger.
Having an enormous “now” is great for relaxing, meditating, and zoning out in ecstasy. But when “now” becomes so large that even the immediate future seems distant and unimportant, getting things done can become a problem! (Could that be why so many mystics accomplish little else once they achieve bliss?)
Generally a person has optimum sizes of “now” for doing various activities. I have the client imagine a variety of activities and experiences they’re likely to have in the future, and find the optimum size of “now” for each. This future-paces dynamically adjusting “now,” something I reinforce with conversational suggestions.
One man I worked with had been at least somewhat anxious about 70% of the time for years. We made a lot of changes to his timeline, including an in time/observe time adjustment. But he didn’t really relax until we expanded “now” at the end of his session. I’m pretty sure expanding his now was a lot of why that single session decreased the amount of time he felt anxious from 70% to 10%.
There may be ecology issues with making “now” bigger, especially if the client uses mostly Away From strategies to motivate themselves. Resolve these, and you can send a significantly de-stressed client home with a blissful smile on their face.
Want to experiment?
Investigate how the size of “now” in your own experience relates to bliss, and to getting things done. Report your results in the Comments section below. Thanks for participating!
1. Having “now” spontaneously change size may be an important component in ecstatic states. Recall a time when you were totally “blissed out” — perhaps getting a back rub, lying on a beach, meditating, or totally in the moment while making love. As you re-experience that blissful state, now… notice how big “now” is in that experience… and compare that to your usual size of “now” when you post your results below.
2. Recall times when you got a lot done in a short amount of time. Contrast times when you got a lot done but felt stressed… to times when you worked with ease and flow. What size is “now” in each of these experiences?
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