I think it finally happened after Labor Day this year. I spent all day Wednesday believing it was Friday, positive on Saturday the weekend was over and Monday had arrived. Days seemed to flow as rivers into weeks, the rivers spreading into a delta of months. It was an experience similar to jet lag. I checked my phone to be sure about the day, more than once.
I decided to cross out each date on the calendar as the last task before bed. Then first thing in the morning I would clearly see the day and date. This worked well until the night I just went to bed.
Then there was the morning when I set my timer for one minute intending to go outside and simply follow my breath while watching the sunrise. Distracted by the cats on my way down the stairs, I remembered the laundry that needed to be moved from washer to dryer, took a detour, and heard the timer beep halfway through transferring wet clothing.
I realized my awareness of time itself had shifted since February. Cliché or not, being in a pandemic changed everything.
I needed to recalibrate my internal sense of rhythm and time to my current experience. I experimented with timing simple daily tasks to reorient to now. I discovered brushing my teeth takes almost two minutes, getting dressed normally about five, setting up the coffee for the morning three. I felt the difference between one minute and three, found it easier to recall and duplicate the sensations of mindful breathing for just one minute.
I started walking outside, creating a deliberate automatic pattern of movement by choosing the same path around the park every day. When I finally looked up and my eyes saw the incredible beauty of a clear blue fall sky, I observed I had been walking for fifteen minutes.
I started to play with fifteen minutes, noticing how many distinct sounds my ears heard, how the slope of grass felt different from the firmness of concrete. The next day I spent the time feeling the movement of walking in my ankles, the length of my stride, and the sensation of impact with each step. Thus each day’s walk became a new adventure, part of the re-set of my internal clock.
Recalibrate your internal sense of rhythm and time to your reality of now.
- Choose two or three regular daily tasks to study. (Examples can be brushing your teeth, putting your shoes on, setting up morning coffee/tea, ordering and picking up morning coffee/tea.)
- Imagine how many minutes each task usually takes.
- Set a stopwatch to determine the actual number of minutes for each task you study.
- Write the information down in some format for yourself. (You might want to repeat this exercise at some point in the future and compare)
- What did you notice?
- How does this number of minutes feel compared to just one minute?
- Choose to be walking in a familiar location, and set your time for one minute.
- Focus on breathing until the timer beeps.
- Exhale completely and feel the automatic deep inhale that follows.
- What did you notice?