Time flies when you are (safe and) having a good time! But time goes really slowly when your body experiences potential threat (‘flight or fight’), even if your mind thinks this is fun!
I went to an amazing 90 minute trapeze class last week with my son and daughter. We had all done this several times before but this was my first experience for six years since before I broke my arm and snapped off my triceps when I fell 4 metres off a tall structure during a film shoot.
I have been often been obsessed with the ideas of consciousness, and the relationship to our perceptions of time and space. A major concept in both modern physics and eastern mysticism suggests that space and time are both manifestations of consciousness. Time itself is related to memory and your imagination. If you can simply live in the present moment and you don’t dwell on past and future there is no time. Timelessness is considered by many to be essential to the meditative state.
But when we observe time it also seems to pass at different speeds. They say the time flies when you’re having a good time. To me this is an important element of meditation. In a deep state of meditation generally heart rate is low, breathing is low and there is a one-pointed of mental focus.
Recent studies of Johns Hopkins University have shown that people in deep meditation show similar brainwave patterns as people on psychedelic drugs. In both cases a complete part of the brain, called the ‘default centre’ seems to shut down. This is the place that our minds go to when thinking of the past or future. It is also the place where we compare our situation to other people’s and reflect on our position in the world. This place is like the time-travelling and ego centre. It seems therefore that in deep meditative states and under the influence of psychedelic drugs and perhaps at other times in life, you can feel totally connected to all beings and with everything else while living totally in the present moment with no relation to past or future.
The meditative state is also associated with the low heart rate, but increased circulation, low minute ventilation but increased entry of oxygen into cells, and a sense of profound calmness with alertness, plus a one-pointed engagement in the activity that you are engrossed in. Studies suggest that this type of meditative state, which can be achieved in any safe and sustainable activity, seems to be very beneficial for helping you achieve longevity on many levels including at the level of your DNA.
But in this 90 minutes of flying trapeze, where I only had five swings, with each swing lasting no more than 30 seconds, and even though I felt I was reasonably safe and having a great time being in the present moment, each of these 30 second periods seem to last for ages. This is a great activity with lots of musculoskeletal and other benefits, but there are some physical risks doing this however, and my heart rate was definitely elevated. It seems therefore that increased heart rate and perhaps my underlying perception that there was some physical threat to my body changed my perception of time and actually slowed time down for me.
Have you ever had a similar experience?
The other times I’ve experienced such a profound slowing of time has been at times of extreme stress and real danger such as during major car accidents. At those times everything was going in slow motion while the car accident was happening. Many people report this, that at times of extreme stress, correlated with the ‘flight or fight’ response, and often in a life threatening situation, that time appears to slow down. But it can also happen when you are having a good time like flying trapeze, skydiving or other extreme sports.
It is often stated in old yoga texts the yogi counts the life not by the number of years they live but by the number of beats the heart makes and the number of breaths they take. And so I often wonder if activities such as this flying trapeze, even though my conscious mind perceived to be a really exciting and fun activity, might also be perceived as a ‘flight or fight’ situation by the unconscious mind and it is actually shortening your potential life by changing the length of the time you are experiencing, and by fitting more time units into a short period of time, thus making time appear to go very slowly.
These thoughts about time are just interesting to ponder and obviously have an lot of subjectivity to them. But I find it interesting as so many people seek these short-term ‘exciting’ but mildly risky ‘fixes’ for their entertainment and life activities. They can have some great benefits and be really fun of course but I think in the long term it is more beneficial to do activities that totally sustainable and have very low risk and become more meditative. I guess a combination of the two extremes is also good.
Having said all of that, I totally recommend doing some flying trapeze if you have never tried it and you are able to do the basic thing of hanging with your arms on a swing. It gives great traction and mobility for all your joints especially your shoulders, spine and hips. It is also really strengthening for your core, arms and legs.
I also want to say that I really appreciate Circus Arts in Byron Bay and it’s highly trained, skilful and friendly staff. I can recommend this place for sure. Thanks so much also to my kids @a.m.a.l.i.a.h and @ericborgolivier for being such a great inspiration to me in life. They are keeping me young (-ish!)
I have lots of safe, accessible and effective meditative practices for health and longevity that I would love to share with you. If you are interested. Here are some of my forthcoming live and online trainings:
10 – 14 December, 2018
Simon and Master Yang Workshop – “Accessing our Unconscious” 5 day Course
Gold Coast, Australia
3 February – 3 March, 2019
200 hour TT Intensive Training, Goa, India
Try a FREE LECTURE today from any of our online courses.
Advanced Yoga Fundamentals: ‘Essentials for teaching Yoga’
Anatomy & Physiology of Yoga
Yoga Therapy: Therapeutic Applications of Posture, Movement and Breathing
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