How do you experience subjective time?
Does time seem shorter objectively than you thought, or longer? Or does the perception of time passing play no role?
I would say it’s shorter and at the same time there’s a sense of eternity, I couldn’t tell how long I’ve been here.
So the day doesn’t leave a trace in you apparently?
“Where a Buddha walks he leaves no trace”, for me that means that.
And the others? How do you live the time during our meetings? How do you experience it in yourself?
It flows, unless there is a schedule, otherwise…
Yes, otherwise? That’s what’s interesting.
Otherwise, well, there’s no such thing as time for me.
Ha, that’s already a little more precise.
I have the impression of being out of time, here there is no time; that’s what I noticed when I had to create time to be able to address the outside world, it struck me. I realized that I was without time here, so I don’t know if it goes faster or slower. Sometimes I feel like things are going fast and sometimes they’re not, but it’s not related to time, it’s more like an inner speed that gives me a feeling.
When I was working on sanding the boards earlier, there was this quality of the moment, it was pretty amazing, like there was only one moment really. Sanding with the machine or with the little gouge was… I can’t really describe it, what I remember is this depth or flavor of the moment, and it was very strong this afternoon.
Are there people here for whom the subjective notion of time has evolved since the beginning of the work on oneself?
In fact, time for me has changed its frame of reference, before I was aware of the hours more or less.
You mean it’s changed since you’ve been here?
Yes. At present, the reference is the whole day; when I get up in the morning, the unit is the day. So in effect, to echo what O. was saying, speed disappears. It’s a unit that is global, almost like a breath, in the morning I wake up and it’s a bit like taking a deep breath of air, a big inspiration, until the evening.
And in the evening, you breathe out.
Yeah, that’s kind of the idea.
For me it’s like there’s a permanent present moment that I have to artificially cut out by looking at my phone from time to time to know if I have time left before I eat or whatever. It’s like it’s a continuous, permanent present moment.
I feel things in a similar way. In the movement, the days don’t leave any traces; I see it as if I were on a road and every now and then there is a marker that tells me “there is a meal”, and if I don’t pay attention, I miss a meal.
I would say that there is a succession of activities, but it’s as if it was unfolding, it’s not one activity and then another, it’s unfolding, with landmarks. So it’s pretty smooth, even if there are little moments of stress in the kitchen related to meals. But overall it’s like a meter, as if we were unrolling a meter.
For me it’s something that’s not linear, it’s like a tool with periods where there’s more space and other periods where the space gets a little smaller.
For me I’m pretty aware of the time, maybe because of the meals, I don’t know why it’s always on my mind; but when I ask myself how long I’ve been here, I can’t figure it out.
And what is the link between body awareness and time? The way we perceive time.
For me it unifies instead of being fragmented, I feel like it’s stretching and unifying. Every time I look at the painting of the kitchen with the different days, it seems a bit strange; I feel a kind of surprise, as if it was very artificial. Otherwise the cue is that I am sleeping or awake, and when I am awake it is unified, there is no fragmentation.
I can’t connect time with body consciousness, to answer your question.
Do it, link it, and you will see. It’s when space and time come together. Marriage.
I feel something in me, it is the slowness, and it is really impossible for me to go fast, impossible.
Quick in the sense of rushing?
Because sometimes there are tasks that require a certain speed, like reacting to an unexpected situation for example.
Yes, the speed needed to deal with the unexpected remains. But otherwise it’s clear, rushing is impossible for me.
By connecting time with body consciousness, what comes to me is eternity. And the notion of patience disappears, or rather is explained, that is to say that in this eternity there is necessarily patience, but in fact it is not there because there is no impatience either. Whether it happens now or in 10,000 years, in fact it is all at the same time. I don’t know how to explain it, but when you talked about marriage, it became very clear and now I understand what patience is.
Infinite, infinite patience.
Yes, infinite patience, right.
Sometimes it feels like time and space are disappearing, but those are rare moments, so I’m wondering how often I’m in body awareness.
But that doesn’t mean you’re not in body awareness when you’re not experiencing it; it’s an aspect of body awareness, but it’s not “the” body awareness that allows us to perceive this marriage… Or rather to live it, it is not even a perception. R. Does this speak to you?
I also live different levels of time, that is to say that the body has its time, for example hunger, fatigue, and there is also mental time to be able to accomplish tasks, keeping the notion of hourly time, and then there is a third kind of time as we have just mentioned.
What R. just said resonated with me, I just realized that I don’t have a dissociation of the mind and the body, it’s a whole. And I don’t project myself either, even to finish tasks.
Yes, you don’t aim at the goal anymore, you know it’s going to happen.
Yes, and it’s true that before I was aiming for the goal, now it’s different.
And this can only be experienced when one has acquired – in the sense of completely integrated – certain attitudes or values such as non-procrastination, external consideration, the absence of internal consideration, etc. Otherwise one cannot access this. Taking responsibility; when taking responsibility is an acquired right, then one is free for that, one is freed from all the useless consequences of not having taken responsibility. And when you are free from all that, you are open to live the real life. Also daydreaming, and mental rumination, are mechanisms that prevent us from living the real life.
Is there anything else to share about time?
I have the impression that in bodily consciousness I feel this atemporality, or this infinity, and yet I still have this little enigma that remains: how do the three times that R. was talking about function? There is something that is not completely clear to me, it tickles my curiosity, it remains a koan.
But it’s not very important to know “how it works”, it can remain a mystery, the main thing is to become aware of it.
Yes, but I’m a researcher at heart; I don’t make it an objective either, it doesn’t keep me awake at night, it just tickles my curiosity.
I am also a researcher at heart, well I live it, I don’t even look for it.
Fortunately, because there is nothing to find there.
Do you sometimes have intuitions?
It depends on what you call having intuitions.
Flashes, insights that come out of nowhere.
I would say yes. At times there is a kind of bubbling, and suddenly something comes to me. Or rather, when I wonder about something, sometimes there is an intuition that generates this eureka.
That’s it. And second question, do you recognize that when I speak most of the words that come out are neither premeditated nor thought out?
Have you ever wondered how I do it?
No, because most of the time when I speak it’s not thought out either, it just comes out.
You don’t see a difference between you and me now?
Does it come from deeper inside you? I don’t know.
You said that you have hunches from time to time; I say it’s rare that I don’t have them.
Do you call that a hunch?
For me it is, it’s like that… What’s the difference between when you have a real intuition and most of the time when you don’t?
Often I’m shuffling around, things come to me that are in the order of a logical conclusion. I don’t have that kind of intuition.
Okay, most of the time you do that.
Yes, it’s the commentary of observations, there’s a kind of visible cause and effect.
Yes, but do you think I operate like that too?
No. But this is the way I usually operate. When I speak here there is no prior reflection, no premeditation, the exchange comes out as it comes out and I don’t know what I’m going to say the second before, I don’t even know if I’m going to say something or not, it’s completely spontaneous.
There is a difference, as we have just seen; with me it’s almost the totality that comes from there, with you it rarely happens. And it’s not the same thing to not think before speaking and to have an intuition that speaks… most of the time it comes from nowhere. I don’t know myself where it comes from, it’s not a logical conclusion at all, sometimes it’s based on observations I’ve made, but even those observations then shift into something else entirely, a paradigm shift between what I can observe and the insights that come up. I can’t trace that what I said is a conclusion of my various observations.
Do you recognize that you don’t normally have access to that?
I would tend to say that I don’t have access to that.
And this access is blocked by what you usually do, by all the mental conclusions. It also comes from the intellectual center, but it is not the master of the game, it is simply the executor who formulates my intuitions into words. And this is also the genius of Steven Jourdain for example, or others; when the intuitions come, it is the intellectual center that finds the words that are adapted with the intention. It’s another approach and it’s up to you to see how you’re going to access it. Let the nothingness live.
Yes, I understand! I understand… I feel! It’s like I have to take something away that I’m doing, but I’m not aware of what it is.
That’s it! Just take it for now as a working hypothesis and then let it come. A little question mark about how you normally operate.
That said, I would be surprised if there was never any of that in me, I would have to observe, but I don’t know how to spot it.
You know that, I’ve seen you do it before. But you are not centered in the intuitions, it is not yet generalized in you.
Yes, it comes from outside and it goes through me, it’s like life is using me to express certain things, and it surprises me afterwards. I feel like a tool very often.
So do I.
You have to have courage and faith to jump in there, because then you don’t know anymore… I experienced a three-month period where everything fell apart; for example, after I had done the shopping, I was in the car and I didn’t know how to drive anymore, I didn’t know! “what do I do now?” You see these are things that happen sometimes.
I know that too – not about not being able to drive – but it’s getting harder and harder to “act like it” at work. I remember one day in particular when I came back from a week off, and we’re checking in on Monday morning and the guys are asking me how my project is going. And I didn’t know what my project was, or what it was called, I might have just known I was on a project!
This is going in the right direction.
I sometimes come across as a clown, people sometimes have an image of me…
Yes, but you know, you can divert attention, you become very inventive. There was a time when I was a psychotherapist, I had clients, and one day when a client came in, I couldn’t remember anything at all, absolutely nothing. Luckily I had my notes, and as I went through them it came back to me little by little. The day I couldn’t drive, I was at the supermarket, at the cash register, and I had no idea what money was. So I opened my wallet and said “help yourself”. You become very inventive when these mechanisms don’t work anymore, you develop additional strategies, you don’t want to be noticed either.
I often tell my colleagues that I have Alzheimer’s before my time, or else I will try to find people who will help me. For this project, I was paired with someone who knew the environment very well, so I relied on her a lot.
And I find it very interesting that you associate that with intuition, because I didn’t make the connection at all.
These are mechanisms that come up when intuition takes over, it happens in the transitional period. It’s important to welcome this and above all not to panic. I get in the car and I don’t know how to drive… I didn’t panic.
And what did you do?
I waited and after two minutes it came back, but I didn’t know if it would come back, it could have stayed like that the rest of my life. At the moment you live it, you don’t know. That’s where faith comes in. And courage of course, the courage you have to have beforehand, to go for it in spite of everything that can happen.