Willpower doesn’t grow on trees.
Laurel May Bond makes her home in the desert oasis of Paradise Valley, Arizona with a husband, a bird and a bulldog. Living with metastatic breast cancer since 2012, she looks for (and sometimes actually finds) the humor in her situation at Cancer is the New Black.
Nothing gives a person a fresh perspective on the meaning of time like being diagnosed with an incurable terminal disease.
I found out I had Stage IV metastatic breast cancer back in 2012. While there’s no cure (yet) it is treatable, so I’m still here. Fighting. Fighting cancer is a daily battle, but as a result I also face another, equally formidable enemy: anxiety.
Of course, we all know we have a limited number of days on this planet, but once you’re directed to an actual countdown clock, maximizing each moment takes on a certain gravity. Actually, scratch that—honestly, it’s more like a full-on anxiety surge. Since I got the news, it’s been my nearly constant companion. Making every day matter is a lot of pressure. (Thanks a lot, motivational Pinterest phrases.) In turn, cue the monkey mind madness. If I’m not vigilant, I find myself spooling, projecting, wheel-spinning and obsessing over things, situations and events that not only haven’t happened yet, but may actually never come to pass. Now, I ask, is that the proper use of a resource as precious as time? Nah.
Even if you’re not currently battling some killer disease, learning to savor time like a Brooklyn foodie relishing a batch of artisanal donuts is a skill that will enhance your life in ways you can’t even imagine. I know it has for me. So grab your cape and lets add time bending to your superhero tool belt.
The next time you feel anxiety creeping in, take a minute and check your thoughts. You’ll most likely find you’re thinking about something that hasn’t even actually happened. How crazy is that? Whether it’s as trivial as a terrible test grade or as epic as a natural disaster, the last time I checked, we were just specks on a rock hurtling through space. Unless something’s changed and you’re now controlling the universe, you have no business operating in or speculating on future calamities. Stop. It. Do this instead:
How to Freeze Time in Five Easy Steps
1. What do you see? Look around and name the objects that surround you.
2. What do you hear? Listen.
3. Where are you touching physical matter? The soles of your feet? Your bum in a chair? Put your awareness there.
4. This is where you slow-your-roll like Neo in the Matrix, except Agent Smith is anxiety and you just kicked his ass. Relax and relish the moment.
5. Whip out your digital device and take the next step on your Headspace journey.
It’s really that simple. This superpower will rescue you from almost any jam. Freezing time makes a space to step back and recalibrate and savor, not squander. It’s not only handy in times of distress – you can also use these very same steps to freeze moments of joy! Or utterly mundane, wonderfully ordinary times – which, honestly, are the juiciest parts of our lives here on Earth.
All things considered, I don’t suppose time will ever really be my friend. Anxiety always catches me off guard. But these days, when I am hit by a tsunami of future “what ifs?”, I remember my superpower. I focus my attention on the sensations at hand and it’s as though I’ve been tossed a life preserver. I hit the pause button on the rushing of time. I am here, now. I am alive. Now. And after all, now is all we have, isn’t it? Since I’ve had a bit of practice, I’m able to string a few minutes of time now like pearls onto a necklace. And for me, a little bit of “now” is more effective than any pill. Stopping time is habit forming, in a good way; and the side effects include feelings of calm and gratitude. When I forecast, project or reel out time, I feel it slip through my fingers. Wasted. When I pause and truly tune in to where I am – I freeze the now. I see the moment. I am in it. I turn it around and upon examination, it reflects nothing but beauty. I admire it like a diamond.
Now that’s proper use of time.
The author of this post is an editorial contributor to Headspace. These are their views, experiences and results and theirs alone. This contributor was paid for their writing.