The Art of Slowing Down Time:
How to Create More Spaciousness and Freedom in Your Life
BY DR.PEDRAM SHOJAI
time is, in a sense, not real, meaning it bends to your perception. this means that we entirely have the ability to slow down and stop time at will.
To the ancient monks of the East and West, time has always been considered one of life’s great mysteries. What we consider “conventional time” is a linear and sequential construct that is very different from the slowed down “no time” of the monks.
We track conventional time on our watches. It is tied to the movement of the Earth around the sun, the rotation of the Earth, the phase of the moon, and our place in the solar system. It helps us have a common language and convention around how and when to assemble. This societal time helps airports run and schools operate. It works and is a wonderful tool we have to know “when” we stand in the Universe.
This conception of conventional time does not, however, speak to the quality of the time we experience. Time dilates. It goes faster or slower depending on the state of being or consciousness in which we are parked. When we’re frantically engaged in our daily burn, time seems to fly and there’s never enough of it. On a 2-week vacation in Hawaii, however, we allow time to slow down and stretch and find ourselves feeling restless, looking down at our watches and amazed that it’s only 11:00 a.m. How does this seeming stopping of time happen?
Time is relative. It is also infinite.
The Universe knows no time. Outside of our narrow band of self-conscious identity, time does what it likes—it speeds up or slows down accordingly. We recall events from our childhood that can make us moody by suddenly flooding our bloodstream with molecules, sparking emotions, and elevating our heart rate. We dream of an event sometime in the future and are carried away to a fantasy realm where we happily reside and ponder things until the phone rings and brings us back to our present time at our desk.
We time travel all the time.
Our consciousness has access to things all over the timeline and often takes us out of the present moment of slowed down time. It pulls us into some “other time” where we can spend much of our energy. It can pull us away from “now” and keep us fixated on a traumatic event “then” or an anticipated event “soon.”
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We can tap into the place of slowed down “no time” and “drink from Infinity” when we learn how to access certain parts of our consciousness that have the ability to slow down and stop time. This is the flow state of athletes and the Zen mind of meditators. It effectively puts us back into the driver’s seat and gives us the personal power to choose where we allocate our time. It also makes us much more efficient, so we can do more (and do it better) while staying calm in a space of slowed down time.
Taking Control of How We Engage with Time
We can slow the quality of time with our breath, with our mind, and by controlling our biorhythms.
Taking time for ourselves is the most important thing we could do for our personal development and mental health. Our ability to choose wisely and spend our valuable time on our goals is the real sign of mastery.
Most people actively take on dozens of items at a time and wonder why they mostly falter. Each of these tasks takes mental time and energy. Most of us exhaust our vitality and willpower trying to feed too many ideas, gigs, social commitments, and projects because we’ve never really stopped time and taken a proper accounting of where we stand.
Change is the only constant in the Universe.
The key to overcoming time compression and moving into slowed down time expansion is to live in the now and embrace change. When an Urban Monk notices that things do not feel right, he moves back into the now. Why? That is where our power lies. That is where we can tap into the vast energy currents that can flow through us, and that is where peace and wisdom reside. In the present moment, we have the clarity and insight to have agency in our lives and make better decisions. We control and stop time and slow down our perception of it. We allow things into our lives and disallow the rest. We establish appropriate boundaries in our life and curate the events we elect to keep on our calendars. Do things go wrong, and do people have emergencies? Sure. We control what’s in our hands and therefore have enough agency to move things around if big items surprise us.
The Master moves with time and adjusts constantly as a good surfer makes microadjustments in order to stay on a wave that is moving and crashing all around him.
Being rigid makes us fall. Being afraid of change paralyzes us.
Thus the great paradox: To remain still means to move with time, to move with the Universe. Stillness is actually the state of moving with the Universe in unison.
In nature, things move with the sunlight and with the seasons. In society, none of that seems to matter anymore. In a world filled with artificial constructs and compressed time, the only way to stay sane is to take control of our personal time and slow it down. Tapping into timelessness connects us with all Life around us and helps us feel a part of the fabric of the Universe. We are in stride with the life flowing around us and don’t get knocked off our perch every time someone else’s frequency or “time stamp” invades our space. An Urban Monk stays anchored in her own slowed down time and remains immune to any infiltrating frequencies that don’t serve her.
This is an essential mindfulness meditation practice—seasoned masters practice this daily, so don’t let its simplicity fool you. Tapping into Universal slowed down time can be achieved by first tapping into your breath. You can effectively practice time dilation once you learn to control and understand your breathing. Over time, it helps calm the mind, decrease reactivity, and power the frontal lobes of the brain, which will help you think before you commit to items on your calendar.
1. Sit in a comfortable position with your spine straight.
2. Touch the tip of your tongue to the roof of your mouth.
3. Gently start breathing in and out through your nose with your mouth closed.
4. Breathe to a spot about 3 inches below your navel called the lower dantian. (It is three fingers below the navel, deep in the center of your body.)
5. Inflate (on inhale) and deflate (on exhale) this area with each passing breath.
6. On your next inhale, slowly breathe down to your lower abdomen for a count of 4, counting slowly and evenly.
7. Hold your breath when full for a count of 2.
8. Slowly exhale for a count of 4; be fully empty by the end of it, and time it so you can do so.
9. Hold your breath for a count of 2.
10. Back to the inhale for 4 . . .
11. Keep following this basic pattern for as long as is comfortable (or desired).
12. Make sure your in and out breaths keep the same cadence with the count. Be particularly aware of the space at the top of the in breath and bottom of the out breath.
I recommend doing this practice for at least 10 minutes a day in order to master the art of slowing down time. Balancing the breath is key, so make sure the inhale and exhale are the same duration.
This exercise is designed to help break our fixation on time and shift our consciousness. Doing this for a few minutes can really cause a pattern interrupt, help the mind break free from the drudgery of compressed time, and help us jump out into the living, breathing, present moment of stopped time, which is full of potential and energy.
1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your arms at your sides.
2. Breathe in and out of your nose with your tongue touching the roof of your mouth.
3. Slowly breathe down to your lower abdomen (to the area known as the lower dantian, the location is described in the previous exercise).
4. Once you’ve connected with your breath and slowed it, move your palms to touch the front of your thighs on the next EXHALE.
5. From here, slowly lift your arms, shoulder-width apart, up in front of you to the height of your shoulders ON THE INHALE.
6. Then slowly let your arms coast back down to where your palms touch the top of your thighs ON THE EXHALE.
7. Gently repeat this practice for about 10 repetitions, going nice and slowly.
8. Look at the space between your hands with a soft gaze.
9. Now keep the breath going at the same pace and DISCONNECT the arm movements from it by picking up the pace of your arms to 2 times the speed.
10. Do this for about 10 to 20 repetitions and notice how you feel.
11. Now start moving your arms at 4 times the speed while keeping your breath slow and low (and disconnected from the arm movements).
12. Do this about another 10 to 20 times and see how you feel.
13. Go back to the original pace where your arm movements and your breath are connected
14. Go back to a basic standing posture and slowly breathe to the lower dantian for 10 to 20 more breaths, feeling the slowed down time you’ve just dropped into.
This article on slowing down and stopping time is reprinted from The Urban Monk by Pedram Shojai, OMD. Copyright (c) 2016 by Pedram Shojai, OMD. By permission of Rodale Books. Available wherever books are sold.
About The Author
Dr. Pedram Shojai studied biology at UCLA until he had a series of profound mystical experiences that drew him to the Eastern esoteric arts. Since then, he has studied Kung Fu, Tai Chi, Qi Gong, Yoga, Meditation, and Medicine diligently for the past 20 years. He is a doctor of Oriental Medicine. His passion is to travel the world and meet inspiring people who are making a difference in their communities. Over the past two years, Pedram has written his first book, Rise and Shine: Awaken Your Energy Body Taoist Alchemy and Qi Gong, and has produced two documentary movies. He’s gotten far more involved in philanthropy and is now working with amazing people all over the world. Waking up to our full potential is the key and Pedram is passionate about teaching the skills that he’s learned over the years, helping people wake up and live their lives fully. Visit his website: theurbanmonk.com.