Timeshifting at UU [#48]

Unitarian Universalists distinguish between sacred time and fleeting time.  We’re in fleeting time when we’re hurrying, rushing to get things done, trying to multi-task, focusing on speed and efficiency.

Sacred time is when we’re paying full attention in the moment, when we’re present enough, for example, to notice a shift of tone in a person’s voice, to ask what’s wrong, and to listen with compassion

Here’s a way to feel the difference:

First, think of a cell phone, then a hamburger, then, a car.

Notice how long it took to shift from one thought to the next—probably a fraction of a second.

Now try this:  First, feel sad, then angry, then joyously in love.

How long did it take to shift between these thoughts?  If this series took noticeably longer, you were momentarily in sacred time.  You were tuned into emotions and sensing deeper within your body.

Unitarians honor our ability to “timeshift,” to alter the kind of time in which we live. We do this by being aware of what’s going on inside as we make our way through our day.  Are we navigating a given moment as fleeting time or as sacred time?

This awareness of timeshifting can be a personal practice, one benefit of which is stress reduction.  As we rush through life, we often try to ignore our feelings, hoping that checking off a list of completed tasks will override what’s going on deeper down.  But that approach can exacerbate stress, rather than relieving it.  Shifting to sacred time allows us to sit quietly in the present moment, experience ourselves more fully, and face into whatever we are trying to resist or avoid through our frenetic activity.

April 7, 2023