Dear Restless Self,
For many of us, time is a great source of anxiety and stress. Our days are filled with plans, tasks, and errands. We aim to be productive, meet our deadlines, and show up when we’re supposed to. At times when we feel more expansive, we may add some aspirations among the obligations, but even then there hardly seems to be a moment to rest.
Time is valuable and apparently in short supply, so it’s natural to look for ways to manage it. But in truth, time simply flows like water. We don't manage time; we learn to manage ourselves in the flow of time. Paradoxically, this is more about going with the flow than about optimizing productivity.
How do we accomplish this? How do we learn to swim gracefully in the river of time rather than placing ourselves immovably in its path like a boulder? The key is to understand both your inner nature and your spiritual context.
Life is about getting things done, but it’s also about simply being. Being and doing reflect two of the major needs of the soul. First, each soul seeks ways of being its fullest self. These ways may include things like freedom, compassion, and serenity. Each soul comes with a unique blend of these states, which define its distinct essence. To thrive, you must identify and cultivate your intended ways of being. For example, if your soul desires to be in contemplation, then you know that time for yourself is necessary for your well-being.
The second major need of the soul is to find ways of fulfilling its unique beauty and purpose. This is the mode of action. Here we express our gifts, talents, abilities, and our deepest desires for ourselves and the world. For instance, you may discover that you have a special talent for teaching and are meant to express it by helping others learn.
Sometimes, we get so caught up in doing that we forget the importance of being. This imbalance leads us to neglect our soul’s deep need to find and experience our intended states. We may also forget to ask ourselves whether things we are doing are really an expression of our soul’s purpose or simply reactions to external distractions the expectations of others.
We can be and do our best only when we are in balance and consciously present. As young children, we have no notion of past and future. We are always present to what’s in front of us, and we naturally seek equilibrium between being and doing. When we grow up, our consciousness shifts because life demands that we take responsibility and make things happen.
There are many practical benefits to such a shift. However, when we become overly focused on being productive and preparing for an anticipated future, we destroy our own peace of mind. We dismiss the current moment, abandoning our presence there. We are meant to balance being and doing, to know when to use our awareness of the future and when to let go and be as we are meant to be, here and now.
Surrendering your struggle with time is about finding balance between taking action and allowing the Divine plan to unfold. I don’t mean to suggest that you give up making plans or setting intentions, but rather that you plan and intend while allowing the “how” to emerge into your experience. Surrendering your anxiety and stress, your to-do list, your feeling that there isn’t enough time, and your attachment to timelines and outcomes will help you be more present and engaged in your life.
Time, attention, and energy are the most valuable resources we have. The constant flow of time, from the beginning of our lives to the end, reminds us of the importance of finding meaning in life. Awareness of our own mortality need not add to our anxiety as long as we are aware of our purpose. We are not on this earth to be mentally assaulted by endless inputs, nor to be distracted by things that are meaningless or depleting. Rather, we are here to flow into our spiritual destiny of finding, knowing, and aligning with the Divine.
All that’s required is that we yield the illusion of control and give ourselves and our time over to the Divine. To practice surrendering time, say the following prayer as you wake up in the morning or before you go to bed at night:
“Dear God, I feel [anxiety, stress, or whatever your current emotion] about time. I am willing to release it. I am willing to allow your plan to unfold in my life. I am willing to let go of my attachment to time and have your guidance take over instead. I am open and receptive to your guidance and your wish for me, to your plans to bring me what’s best for my growth, learning, peace of mind, and well-being. Thank you.”
We humans are meant to swim in the river of time, not to drown in it or try to push upstream. True happiness and well-being come when we acknowledge and fulfill the deepest needs of the soul. These include the need to let go of “doing” and allow ourselves to simply be in our intended states. And it’s essential to remember that the highest purpose of our “doing” is not to cross items off the list but to express the intention of our creation. By surrendering our time to the Divine, we can finally learn to flow into life.
Action item: Today for two hours, set aside your to-do list and whatever you have planned for the day and just decide to be. Feel into your body: what state do you crave internally? Do you need a hug so that you feel loved? Do you need to walk in nature so that you are in a state of contemplation? Do you need a chat with a friend so that you are supported? Whatever your well-being indicates, try to leave room for it in your schedule. Tuning into your body is an essential skill for your survival.