Living In The Moment: A Guide To Stepping Out of Psychological Time

“The only reason for time is so that everything doesn’t happen at once.” Albert Einstein

In Search of The Miraculous

I have been asked several times by my friends as to what are the major signposts to let one know that one is progressing on the journey of self (spiritual) development. Aside from a sublime sense of inner peace, I would like to talk about a topic that has intrigued me since I was a young boy.

All of my life the concept of time, of the 4th dimension has always captivated me. I would spend hours contemplating the inexplicable mystery of it.

Logically I understood that my life was always happening in the ‘now’, that the only ‘moment’ is always just now. But I thought that has to mean that the past, present, and future must simultaneously exist in the now. So theoretically It should be possible to access any dimension of time. However, existentially in this world of matter life’s events seemed to pass successively like a movie strip— let’s say on a horizontal line. Yet, I always felt that something in me was changeless and beyond my subjective point of observation.

As Einstein said, our experience of time is relative. No scientist has ever been able to fully explain: What is time? And although we can’t hold time in our hands we each have our own sense of time passing.

As I got older I began to understand that how we each perceive and experience events largely depended on our interpretation through our five senses. Consequently, I began to experiment in altering my body’s perceptions through breathing exercises, Raja Yoga, controlling attention, etc. Slowly my perception of time in my day-to-day life began to change.

Stopping Time

As a little experiment take an object such as a candle and focus your eyes completely on the flame. Don’t blink, bring your full awareness to it and don’t let your mind wander. The eyes play a huge role in our sense of time. Our eyes are constantly scanning the environment. The pure movement of them gives you the sense that time is passing at a certain rate. But what happens when you keep your eyes from moving and force them to freeze? Well, you may find out that it is extremely hard to do, because our eyes have been conditioned to not stand still.

If you can keep your eyes completely still and without blinking you should be able to subtlety sense that your sense of time has slowed down. If you have perfect one pointed concentration to the exclusion of everything you will see that psychological time stops for you.

You can make this a daily practice by watching the second hand of a clock. Time yourself to see how long you can keep your attention focused on it without your mind wandering off. As soon as a thought comes in and you catch your self starting to wander, gradually bring your self back and start over. At the beginning you may only make it 20 to 40 seconds before your mind starts to wander. Take your best time and multiply it by 3, this will be your target until eventually you can reach 10 minutes of perfect undisturbed conscious concentration. I know this is extremely difficult, but amazing benefits will be revealed to you in due time. Having the ability to  focus your attention like a laser will improve all areas of your life.

Expanding The Present Moment

If you have ever been in a car accident you also know how time can be perceived radically different. At really high speeds our perception of a moving object is deformed in such a way that we can only glimpse the trail of its movement. And in even faster movements such as a bullet, the object completely vanishes.

In a head on car accident right before impact for a split second time seems to radically slow down. Why is it? Well what can happen in a situation like this, is that our organism is momentarily shocked and instead of our consciousness being focused in our thinking mind (intellectual center), it makes contact with our instinctive/motor center which can perceive higher rates of vibration.

The mystic Gurdjieff taught that our human organism possessed three centers or brains: intellectual, emotional, and moving/instinctive center. With each possessing its own independent intelligence. Each center was even further divided into its own intellectual, emotional, and moving/instinctive parts. Our feelings and instincts are hundreds, if not thousands of times faster than thought (thinking).

When you run you don’t need to think about it. If you had to you would stumble and fall. Thought can’t keep up with fast movements. Once an athlete trains his muscle memory, he no longer requires conscious thought to direct his movements. So when your consciousness is momentarily functioning through your instinctive/motor center it is able to expand our perception of the present moment.  Time appears to radically slow down, then a split second later as we come to our senses so to speak, our awareness shifts back to our mind and in hindsight everything happened in a flash. We couldn’t avoid the accident even though It felt as if we had an eternity to do something. If you had trained yourself to remain calm and maintain that level of awareness you could have acted quick enough to possibly avoid the accident.

Freeing Your Body and Mind

Later on as I came to experience that my body was just an instrument, I began to separate my attention, my consciousness from it. By breaking my identification with my body it became objective to me.

Just imagine if you were born blind and deaf…where would your world be? What would you identify as your identity? A person like this would easily be more in tune with his inner silence, his inner reality.

A daily ritual of meditation will yield tremendous benefits. Ideally once in the early morning and then again late in the evening. You will be cultivating an immovable inner silence. This silence will permeate all areas of your life.

As you begin to become dis-identified from your body, thoughts, and emotions you begin to step out of psychological time, which can be represented as a vertical movement of moving deeper into consciousness. When you are in a state of identification it simply means that you are ‘that’. There is no separation, you take your self to be your thoughts, emotions, and body. Without having this direct realization you will never wake up to reality. You will not try to evolve into a conscious human being, because you already believe you possess it. You will not look for something you think you already have.

When we are identified to our body’s, thoughts, and emotions our energy is primarily going out into the world. When you begin to meditate in addition to constantly observing your emotions and thought process in a passively attentive manner (with no judgment), a reversal happens where you sense your energy turn away from your material senses and move inwardly to your inner psychic senses. Watchfulness becomes your way of life. Your nervous system starts changing and is able to hold your inner silence amidst the busyness of life.  Depending on your intensity and sincerity it could be months or even years before you make significant progress.

In time you begin to create space around your thoughts. Having a space or a gap in your thought process means you no longer believe in all your thoughts. You begin to question and separate from your thoughts. You no longer take them to be who you are. The gap is who you really are.

The mind is faithful servant but a terrible master. The problem with humanity is that this position is reversed and as a result we live in a certain type of self-hypnosis. Don’t believe me? Try to remain present to your self, most people can’t remain self-aware for even a minute before another train of thought, mood, or emotion hijacks their attention along with their simple sense of existing in the moment.

Years of real conscious self-observation will help you realize that most of your day is spent inattentively.  This realization is a major milestone and of incredible significance, as you realize that for most of your day you don’t remember your self. You’re asleep. Self-remembrance is just the simple and natural feeling of your acknowledgement that you are existing in this very moment.

You now begin to understand that you are not really a conscious individual with real will power. By observing yourself while simultaneously remembering your “self” you begin to develop a special kind of memory that takes accurate mental pictures of your behavior. In time these mental photographs help you see yourself as you really are. You see that you are not who you ‘thought’ you were. This can be very painful, but can be extremely liberating if you let go of these false self images that define you.

To practice real self-observation you need to learn to divide your attention in a special way. Read about it here: How To Really “Pay” Attention: Learning To Divide Your Attention

As your attention frees itself from compulsive thinking that energy is then transformed into increased consciousness. You begin to feel a more solid inner presence, it’s an actual tangible feeling. This is the meaning of feeling grounded. Then in your day-to-day life you start to look out into the world from this deep inwardly grounded place.

At this point you may have many sublime and mystical experiences. Moments will come where your presence feels so grounded, so intensely alive, that your presence feels solid. Or you may feel that the boundaries between you and the world melt and you feel your presence in everything. In the external world things are happening all around you, movement is happening, but your sense of  psychological time is not there. A paradoxical feeling of no movement, within the apparent dimension of objects moving in space/time. It’s kind of like your so glued to the Present that your sense of time can’t exist because each passing moment you can only sense your self as being ‘here’. In other words, you are life.

Enigmatic things can occur as a result of your awareness being  focused only on the Now. Your perception of the Now may be enlarged, expanding to the point where your point of awareness can catch glimpses of the future dipping in the present. It’s incredibly difficult to put into words, so please forgive me, but if you stay disciplined in your spiritual practice you will know what I was trying to convey. These premonitions of the future could come as a sudden flash in the form of a vivid mental picture of a probable future event. This happens to be me all the time that it is no longer strange to me. All possible events exist on the space/time continuum. Deja vu and coincidences will take on a whole new meaning to you. Life then becomes your teacher full of beautiful hidden meaning.

What’s also interesting is you see why if you’re always thinking or daydreaming about something in the future, if it actually does happen in your life, you experience it as the past, therefore the experience doesn’t fulfill you because in a way you have already lived it. We take the juice out of something before we even live it. It doesn’t live up to our expectations. Just by thinking about it now, you make it the past, because psychologically you are already defining it.

So you begin to understand that your consciousness, your essence, the most essential aspect of your nature is outside of the time dimension. It’s as if in each life time our lives are already written like a DVD disk and our consciousness can scan and read any area of the disk.

When you are identified to your mind, to your thoughts, only the world of matter exists for you and your perception of time passing depends greatly on your mood’s, your emotions, attention, and amount of thoughts in your inner space.

It’s like if you are boat floating down a stream, the more thoughts you have, the faster the outer stream (life) seems to move, the more rushed you feel, the more life seems to overwhelm you. The less thoughts the slower time moves.

Now when you are no longer as strongly identified to your thoughts, when you no longer derive your sense of self from them, it’s as if your on the shore, just observing the stream. It doesn’t matter if it is moving fast or slow, your perceiving from another dimension that isn’t affected by it. You don’t ‘mind’ time anymore, you reject it, it’s psychologically irrelevant to you. Sure you still use chronological time for it’s utility value, but your life is no longer dominated by it. You don’t feel it’s constant pressure. Thoughts will still be there but you don’t mind them. You use the mind when it’s needed and put it aside when it’s not. When you’re enjoying your meal thinking is not required, it only interferes with your primarily physical experience. Just eat, it’s a marvelous thing.

When your in ‘time’, you live a reactionary life, when your out of time you respond to life’s events as they pop up. Life after all is just a constant flow of events. You experience less anxiety as a result of not developing expectations from future events.

Being means to be in the Present. When you derive your sense of self from your mind, from your personality (mind) you are either in the past or projecting your past onto your future. The personality has no Present, it only appears as an evanescent demarcation line. In the real Present there is no room for thought. To the personality created through thought, the future is continuously transformed into the Past and the Present slips through our fingers. It is for this reason that the Present moment has a sense of unreality. We’re lagging right behind it. We live so long in the past or future that the eternal Present feels unreal. What in our current language we call the Present is actually the more or less recent Past, containing our conjectures about the very near future.

Living in the now is living in the future, because chronologically these moments will create your future because you are living in a timeless space. You did not allow yourself to be in bondage. So when the future shows up as the Now you live it fully and you don’t cling to it. You can only truly change your Self in the Now. This is why its so hard for people to change—they are stuck in time. They desperately want to change yet at the same time remain the same and we know that’s impossible.

You can only create your future by taking action now. If you want to really change you need to leave behind all the mental pictures that currently define you. Remember the memory is not the thing. But we love our mental images, they give us a sense of comfort, but they are an illusion. We are blind to ourselves. Just remember you can only lose what’s false, what’s true and intrinsic to your nature can never be lost. We live our lives mainly in a unconscious manner because we live through our habits. The habits go on by themselves—our conscious will is not present.

Your Present Moment Equals Breath

The duration of an individuals present moment can also be equated to the length of one breath. In an average person, who is in a relatively calm state is roughly three seconds.

So the breath is deeply connected with how an individual experiences the Present. So depending on your emotional and physical state your breathing may be accelerated and therefore your present moment is shortened. If you can maintain a calm and steady breathing rhythm in emotional and stressful situations, obviously you will be able to handle the situation much better. You will have a calm detachment that will allow you to make rational decisions.

If you can slow the rhythm of your breath your individual present moment will be enlarged. The present moment itself can’t be measured as it is outside of time, but in a way we can say that we can measure the slit of our observation of the Present as it moves along the horizontal axis of time. As many experienced meditators can attest, in moments of deep contemplation ‘samadhi’ the breath is almost imperceptible and time is not sensed.

“That ye, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, the length, the depth and the height.” St Paul’s Epistle to the Ephesians 3: 17, 18

We as humans live in three dimensions of space , but we are mono-dimensional in Time. Therefore we live on a straight line, and can’t perceive outside that line. It can be represented as in my sketch below. But if you can free your awareness from the line we live in, we can have a different point of awareness, we then rip away from our fixed point in time to a second dimension in time. From this point you realize you can observe the point ‘here’, but simultaneously able to observe the other two points. This puts you in the real present. This is seeing life unfolding in real time. Where space and time are inseparable as time-space.

To understand how a four-dimensional world is perceived through a three-dimensional body,  let us conceive how a three-dimensional event is seen in a two-dimensional world.

Suppose you lived in a two-dimensional world, this is a world of planes and surfaces. Your perception would be limited to a plane like a vertical wall. Now, imagine a wheel with each of its spokes painted in a different color is rotating perpendicular to the plane in which you live.

In your two dimension world how would you perceive the motion of the wheel? Only when a spoke of the wheel intersects the plane, would you be able to see a line of a certain color manifest in your reality.

After one spoke continues its movement and passes there will be a gap when you will not see anything, then the next spoke of a different color will pass through the plane. So you will perceive the motion of the wheel as lines of different colors happening at regular intervals of time.

Since you can see only two of the three dimensions of space, you see the third dimension only when it becomes manifest on your plane over time. Thus, you see it as unrelated to your two dimensions of space and you call it a phenomenon in time.

Essentially what this means is that to understand the three-dimensional world, you cannot be in a two-dimensional consciousness. Accordingly, to understand the four-dimensional world that we inhabit, time being the 4th dimension of space, we have to acquire four-dimensional consciousness capable of ‘Space-sense’.

Our body’s physical senses can only give us a three-dimensional view. Can we actually see reality instead of mere glimpses of reality as phenomena in time? If you want to find out meditation will be your key. In moments of deep contemplation your awareness is withdrawn from your physical senses.

“But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” Matthew 7:14

This is why three seconds, which signifies the present moment, is so important…this is the slot of “time” where you can slip out of time. The precious ‘straight gate’. As Jesus exclaimed, “it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God”. Every sacred teaching must be understood from a psychological point of view. A rich man meant someone with excessive pride, vanity, ego, etc. Ego can be equated to someone who thinks too much. You will find that people who think too much tend to be overly materialistic.

To enter into the Kingdom, we must become innocent like children, which means to empty our selves of all the rubbish we have accumulated. We came into this world ‘tabula rasa’, a blank slate, but as we started to acquire labels and form a psychological identity we lost touch with our pure essence. It is a matter of rediscovering what has always been there, but has been covered over by the hard shell of false personality. It’s time for all of us to come home.

So I would say that ‘timelessness’ is a definite signpost that you are moving away from the material world and into to the world of spirit.

I know this article may sound like nonsense to most people. Most will not be able to relate. Please don’t try to understand it logically with the mind, try to intuit the meaning, try to really feel it.

Jesus says that in heaven… “time shall be no more”. Heaven is not a geographical location but a psychological one. When you break the duality that the mind creates, you will be able understand this truth existentially, you will know that heaven is and will always be in the here and now. How miraculous is that?

Thank you so much for taking the time 🙂 to read my post, hopefully I was able to give you a taste of  timelessness.

If you enjoyed my post, please help me out by passing it along to a friend or sharing your own insights in the comments section. Namaste.

31 Responses to Living In The Moment: A Guide To Stepping Out of Psychological Time

  1. Dear Ivan, I need to read again that is a lot to digest :))) Well done, excellent topic. Something to let be absorbed. I feel blessed with not having an over analytical mind which automatically means as an intuitive, my mind is not clogged with vast data, I can empty it out quite easily (yeah insert the jokes here). This helps with timelessness too. I feel one needs to be able to let go off stuffies and data in order to touch the unspoken, to create and leave space for something else other then the daily gurgle to absorb. Entering that domain of quiet understanding draws to that which is timeless. All in that frame is then indeed, timeless and so is the experience of being.

  2. There is so much good information in this post Ivan. I totally agree that we are in an unconscious mode 99% of our waking life.

    It’s as if we are here, but we are not here. Learning present awareness is key to really experiencing our life in a “whole” way.

    It’s also true about the mind being a much better servant than master, even though the majority of us are taught to be mind people once we start school.

  3. Wow!!! Great read. I feel like you have retained information from your last journey lol. Keep shining love and light bro 🙂

  4. Great post. I can relate with a lot of what you are saying. You seem to be right up my alley 🙂

    I especially enjoyed your wheel analogy and it really drove home the point that time can be considered one dimension of space.

    I need to read more of your stuff to get back in the groove. Life (Maya) keeps me distracted from more important stuff like this. I get immersed in personal stories.

    Once again, great stuff. Aaa, I just remembered that I had written something about time a couple of months ago. Here it is: Would love to know what you think about it.

    • Hello Ka, thanks so much for contributing. I read your piece. I can relate. I am also fascinated by dreams and I like to induce lucid dreams to explore them consciously. You should read my posts on using natural supplements to increase the vividness and intensity of your dreams.

      My view is this. We can’t really say which one is more real. When your in the dream world,it’s totally real and the waking reality falls away and doesn’t exist for you.It’s only when you wake up that you have contrast to compare and then the dream world doesn’t exist. The point is that neither is the ultimate reality because they are both dependent on something to manifest. At night when your body starts shutting down if you can train your awareness, you can remain aware and observe the transition from waking reality to the dream world. The realization that you have will be of that of the unchanging reality that is neither the dream world nor this world of matter which i see as the collective dream.

  5. Dear Ivan
    Thank you so much for taking the time to write and share this beautiful piece with the world.
    Your words certainly resonate within, and I am left feeling deeply inspired 🙂

  6. Dear Ivan,
    Thank you so much for taking the time to write and share this beautiful piece with the world.
    Your words certainly resonate within, and I am left feeling deeply inspired 🙂

  7. Excellent Ivan. Thank you. Krishnamurti (J, not UG) says that when you concentrate fully and completely on something the doer disappears. You merge with the infinite like ice melting in a glass, as Mooji describes it or like you say…you become life. I haven’t practiced nearly as much as you have but I have witnessed the spontaneity of the infinite and the ability to manifest, which is delightfully playful. Keep tapping that well of miracles to inspire and guide us!

  8. Thanks Ivan, for such a wonderful insight 🙂 I really appreciate your patience in making it so easy to understand!

  9. Lovely article Ivan. May I make a request please? Would you consider writing about the three layers of the mind – conscious, sub-conscious and the unconscious. How do they become “one” just prior to entering “Silence” and the role of the three layers during dream sleep and deep sleep.

  10. Time is often perceived in the context of past and future. It make senses when we say yesterday was past, and tomorrow is future. It still make sense with a minute ago and a minute later. However, if this were to be condensed to mini-second, micro-second and nano-second, it becomes hard to distinguish past form the future. This illustrate that time, in essence, is non-existent. It is just a convenient way for people to communicate in a shared perspective of the finite space.

  11. synchronicity 🙂 i was just thinking of Gurdjieff when i was on the “rewind” post just now.
    you have some very interesting and thought provoking posts..thanks so much!

  12. hey ivan..back again 🙂 i was wondering if you know of this website?:
    the reason i ask is because of the concept (and the ‘connectedness’ of all i am being led to read)) of “being in the NOW” or “PRESENT MOMENT”
    “The Cosmic Turtle Moon of Presence..As the “Tone of Presence” this Cosmic Tone 13 calls us to commit ever-more deeply to learn how to reside in The Now; to learn to be alert and attuned to the ever-changing Present Moment;’
    thanks for being a part of my awakening! namaste

  13. Hi Ivan.
    I just found your site today. I’ve been having problems with focus and concentration doing my job (from home), having to put in a lot of hours due to drastic pay cut and feel like time has become my enemy and that it controls me. It’s been driving me nuts and depressed. I blame a lot of this on my mind wandering, thinking maybe I have adult ADD?. I just read your blog on enthusiasm and i think that can help me, but feel like I was really being spoken to in this writing on living in the moment. Some of the things that really hit home are:
    “It’s like you are boat floating down a stream, the more thoughts you have, the faster the outer stream (life) seems to move, the more rushed you feel, the more life seems to overwhelm you.

    Then where you mention “To the personality created through thought, the future is continuously transformed into the Past and the Present slips through our fingers. It is for this reason that the Present moment has a sense of unreality. Were lagging right behind it. We live so long in the past or future that the eternal Present feels unreal.” Well suffice it to say I was blown away because for a long while, last 2-3 years or more I have felt that “unreality” so prevalent in my daily life. I attributed this feeling of unreality to getting older, time passing faster, just so unsure but this is a lot to digest and it kinda gave me a headache because it is a lot to understand but I get that it is crucial for me to understand so I can be happier in the “now.” I know, I’m a work in progress 🙂 Thanks for this!

  14. I have had this same experience of the psychological/christ consiousness, time space, past future and the only time is NOW. But it only lasted a few months. So I can actually say that I’ve been stuck back “in time” for the last 15 years of my life I’ve been trying to get it back. What is it I’m doing wrong? I’ve emptied my mind, released my false identity but still stuck in time. Help!!

  15. I’m totally speechless and unable to say how miraculous this article was and how it did give me a ouch of timelessness . . .

  16. Wow, thank you so much for this article – it’s incredible. For so many years I’ve been searching for this perspective on meditation.

    I’m a prisoner of my mind. As long as I meditate I feel calm. But the second I stop and open my eyes I feel overwhelmed with my existence. As you mentioned, I barely breath and my boyfriend always catches my holding my breath entirely for a few seconds throughout the day. Also, although I work only a few hours per day, the time always seems to fly by and I hate it.
    I hate it how time flies quickly even if I’m just sitting there on the couch doing nothing. I’m fed up with my accelerated perception of time. Although I know that time flies quickier the more I hold on to each second and the more I refuse to simply accept the fact that time… well… passes.

    Since 2015 I want to change my attitude towards life (and my life itself) so badly, but I just couldn’t start and take even the first step. I’ve been searching for a catalyst (that’s why I landed here), for something, someone or anything that would somehow affect me, maybe just an inspiration, that would give me some kind of direction, an impulse…

    Recently I found Teal Swan and she is already a huge help, I started to meditate daily and am now “working” on self acceptance and selflove. But only through reading this article something in my head ringed.

    The universe, different dimensions, multiverses and relative time perception are topics I’ve always been interested in. I think this perspective on meditation was the last puzzle piece, so that I finally can deeply believe in meditation being the means to transform myself and my life fundamentally.

    Thank you!

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