Time keeps marching on. When I wrote my previous blog post, "How to make time slow down," I was 59. Now, I'm 61.
Obviously I haven't been able to stop chronological time. Every year, on my birthday, my age meter advances a click. But we all know how time seems to fly sometimes, and drag at other times.
None of us wants life to be a drag.
However, the older I get, the more I want time to slow down. Perceived time, that is, because I know I can't do anything about those damn birthdays coming around every 365 days.
A second way in which we can slow down time is by making a conscious effort to be 'mindful' of our experience… Poets and artists often have this kind of 'child-like' vision – in fact it's this that usually provides the inspiration for their work. They often have a sense of strangeness and wonder about things which most of us take for granted, and feel a need to capture and frame their more intense perceptions.
An article in the October 24-30, 2009 issue of New Scientist, "The Time Machine Inside Your Head," provides some explanations for why mindfulness succeeds in slowing down time for us.
Researchers wondered why we feel that some experiences (such as a frightening one) last longer than others. People who survive a serious car accident, for example, often say "I felt like everything was happening in slow motion." According to the article:
[David] Eagleman now attributes the apparent slowing of time to a trick of memory. An intense experience, with heightened fear or excitement, rivets our attention and evokes the firing of many neurons across the brain, he says, causing us to soak up more sensory details.
Richer memories seem to last longer, he says, because you assume you would have needed more time to record so many details.
...That could explain many other temporal illusions too, such as the "oddball effect." When people see the same thing over and over (a picture of a dog flashed on a computer screen, say) and then suddenly see something different (Margaret Thatcher), the new thing seems to last longer, even if all the pictures are actually shown for the same duration.
So if we see familiar things as if for the first time, this should slow down time for us. The years we have left to live will seem like they take longer to pass.
As Steve Taylor says:
Mindfulness means stopping thinking and starting to be aware, to live in the here and now of your experience instead of the 'there and then' of your thoughts. It stretches time in exactly the same way that new experience does: because we give more attention to our experience, we take in more information from it.
In other words, to some extent we can control time. It doesn't have to speed up as [we] get older. Some of us try to extend our lives by keeping fit and eating healthy food, which is completely sensible. But it's also possible for us to expand time from the inside, by changing the way we experience the moment to moment reality of our lives. We can live for longer not just in terms of years, but also in terms of perception.