The passing of time – we all experience it. It is not something that can be escaped, only acknowledged or denied. But what if the relationship we take up with time could change our experience of it? 

For some of us, we have recently celebrated the beginning of a new “calendar” year: January 1st. I say some, for not all mark the passing of time in the same way. For those cultures more closely connected to the natural world, the passing of time is in sync with the seasons and with cultural and spiritual practices that honour this. 

This year I was drawn to reflect on the season of winter with words surfacing like: Retreat. Reset. Darkness. Suffering. Depth. Space. Questions stirred for me: How do we create space, preserve space, honour space? 

How do we honour time? One way, I believe, is by not putting unnecessary limits on it – allowing it to unfold as it will, without our agendas. At least sometimes. We need to experience pockets of time like this, where we are not squishing it into little places devoid of air, with no way to breathe. Too often, we unwittingly snuff out the potential of what could be. What could be, that is, if there was room for expansiveness, for unhurried conversations, for thoughts and ideas and emotions to move, for playfulness to emerge. 

We also honour time by stepping out of the distractions that pull us out of the present or divide the present into little bits too fragmented to be whole. This fragmentation can leave us scattered and time-starved, for there is never enough room in this space. 

What would it look like to slow things down enough to feel whole? 

…enough to feel the emptiness of what isn’t or won’t be; 

…enough to feel the beauty, the magic, in the smallest of things that might otherwise go unnoticed; 

…enough to feel our connection to the world around us, to feel the pulse of the natural rhythms – and in the pulse, to find our own. 

What would it feel like to tap in, for a spell, to a rhythm, modelled by the natural world? One where time unfolds with its own patterns, outside of and protected from our current time-obsessed, time-centred, time-scattering world. To do this, we would need to give up the illusion of being in control; that we can somehow contort time and bend it to our benefit, making it (and us) more efficient. 

What if we found a different way to be with time? 

When we step out of the over-scheduled rut, if even for a short while, we can find ourselves in the magical space of timelessness. Magic in the sense that time feels suspended – we lose our consciousness of time and instead can be fully present and engaged in the space between. Much like crawling through the wardrobe in the Chronicles of Narnia, one enters a portal into a world where time flows at a different pace, where imagination abounds and where magic is around every corner. 

We are fighting a losing battle if we try to pursue time directly; it can feel fleeting as we desperately cling on and try to make it last. But science has revealed an alternate way – 

one that honours time and expands our experience of it. Surprisingly, this can be found through the timelessness, freedom and rest that play provides. 

This is where science and magic join hands and jump through the portal together. This is where our emotions can come out to play, where we can process the hard things and sit in the depths of the darkness without being consumed by it. There is safety here and room to move. 

We all – children and parents and grandparents alike – need a portal like this in our life. And this is the space I wish for you all: that you and your loved ones may savour a pocket or two of timelessness sometime in your day or your week, where you step into an experience, leaving any expectations, agendas or destinations behind and feel the magic of what can happen in that place. 

© 2024 The Neufeld Institute