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Creating Wellness: Taking Time, Making Time
The Time of Your Life

"Timeshifting is really about creating balance in everyday life," says Dr. Stephan Rechtschaffen, the co-founder of the Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, N.Y. "You learn how to go fast when you need to go fast. But when you don't want to go fast, you slow down. If we want to live life well, we don't run it at the speed of a 100-yard dash the entire time."

Rechtschaffen's book, Timeshifting, is a detailed exploration into our relationship with time. In his book, Rechtschaffen offers a collection of timeshifting exercises that he believes can help us change our perception of the amount of time we have. A few of them are included here.

Timeshifting to be in the Moment

The present moment is where everything happens. Not the future. Not the past. With its constant intrusions, the pace of modern living is very fast. Find your own individual method for slowing it down. In times of anxiety or stress it is especially important to shift the pace of your interaction with the moment. Try focusing on your breathing, recalling a particularly peaceful moment in your life, counting to 10, or contemplating the beauty of a sunset you once enjoyed. What works for each person can be idiosyncratic, and what you do, or how you remind yourself to timeshift, isn't as important as that you recognize it as a conscious tool to counter the effect of stress and anxiety. The beauty of the present moment, says Rechtschaffen, is that it is always fine. There is no stress in the present moment.

Timeshifting to Create Boundaries

There is always more to do. For your job, for your family, for your spouse, for your community. The more you do, the more there is to do. The question is, what have you done for yourself lately? Creating time boundaries means to carve out time for yourself during the day, preferably at the same time everyday, ideally in the morning. It should be no shorter than 15 minutes and a time with no interruptions. It is time for yourself that is not necessarily activity or goal driven. It is a time to not "do" anything, but simply to "be". The trick to creating time boundaries requires the ability to say "no", to create a sacred time with boundaries for others so that friends, family, children, coworkers all know that this time is your time. It will be time for them later.

Timeshifting to Honor the Mundane

Our lives are punctuated by the big events, the things we look forward to as rewards for our hard work or those times that take on a grandeur that eclipse the routine of our daily lives. Yet in living from event to event there are hundreds of lesser, more mundane things that absorb a great deal of our time but to which we give scant attention. Ignoring the mundane means ignoring the present moment, and eventually such behavior can become so habitual that even the extraordinary moments in our lives can go by barely noticed. Stephan Rechtschaffen suggests that you take an ordinary activity such as sweeping the floor or cleaning the dishes, one of those things you have to do on the way to doing something more preferable, and focus your attention on the activity itself rather than its result. He asks that you notice the intricacies of the task rather than the reward of doing it as a way of coming back into the present.

Creating Spontaneous Time

What is more memorable as a kid than the gift of a snow day from school. Completely unexpected, the day unfolds in front of you unplanned, unstructured, unscheduled, and fills in with all kinds of magical activities that in the course of any other more routine day might seem standard fare. Spontaneous time is an adult's snow day. It is unplanned and unscheduled and therefore free from the expectations that we hang on so many of our other planned activities which so often don't live up to their advance billing. The paradox of spontaneous time, says Rechtschaffen, is that you have to plan it. Pick a time several weeks off, write it into your calendar, and when the time comes, follow your whimsy--whatever that may be. In other words, plan for your spontaneous time, just don't plan what to do with it.

Body & Soul is currently airing Monday-Friday at 7:00pm and 8:30pm on PBS YOU.

Program Description
Stephan Rechtschaffen, MD
Reflection and Rediscovery
The Time of Your Life
Tell Me More

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