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On Creating Time Spaciousness


image by Midjourney


I've been reflecting on my two weeks spent on The Road to Zerophoria, a social simulation led by Jane McGonigal over at Urgent Optimists. It was based on a zero-waste world where garbage is illegal. I was initially not going to do that one (Welcome Party starts in two weeks, and the 10-Year Winter starts in March) as I'm what my husband calls "pre-event." In other words, I kind of already live by many of the principles we'd be forced to live under in a zero-waste world that centers the climate-effects of everything we do.


What I noticed in reading the well-over-a-thousand reflections over the two weeks is that . . . if you didn't think as much about what to buy and when, and your habits of consumption were a lot simpler, you'd have what's called time spaciousness. In Imaginable, McGonigal writes . . .


Time spaciousness is the relaxing and empowering feeling that we have enough time to do what really matters—to consider our options, make a plan, and act more confidently to create the future we want. It is almost impossible to create a sense of time spaciousness when we’re thinking in a matter of days or weeks (p 8).

Time Spaciousness and Mindfulness

When you prioritize spending time in solitude, getting to know your own mind and body and how they work together to form your reality, sometimes your values change.


Sometimes, getting to know your . . . self . . . whatever you think that is, becomes so vital to your waking life that you:

  • go out of your way to carve out more time for it

  • spend money on being in solitude with others (at silent retreats)

  • plan your travel around opportunities for retreats or solitude while away from home

  • alter your habits, replacing those that don't serve you with those that do (including more mindfulness practice).

For some people, this means buying fewer things they don't need (here's more on that), spending less money on alcohol and even food they realize don't add value to their lives, and spending less time with people who have habits they're trying to avoid. It's a form of downsizing that comes from clarity of values and a desire to spend your time in support of those values.


Mindfulness can result in time affluence or time spaciousness, where you have the mental time and space to think and reflect, clearly, and into the future. You're not pressed for time, as you're allocating it more intentionally. You have the capacity to imagine and plan for futures (and play with all kinds of new technologies! Here's a bunch more on that as well as the importance of regulating your nervous system). Here's a paper on the connection between increases in time affluence and well-being for those who practice mindfulness-based stress reduction


It's Like The Cathedral Effect

You may have heard the phrase The Cathedral Effect with regards to how it seems like our imagination and creativity can soar when we're outside or in a room with a very high ceiling. You may have heard that if you need to focus on something, you should find a small space for that focus, as the physical tightness facilitates focus. Here's a fascinating look into the connection between cognitive processing and physical spaces.


On Time and Money

What does money mean to you? What does it represent? I was recently asked that, on the Mindful Money podcast (which will air in a week or two), and I quickly said "freedom," but I had just read something with the words Financial Freedom in the title. It's not a big deal, but I wish I had spent a nanosecond considering the question and not being such an advertisement for priming.


Money, for me, means time. The idea of "enough" of it equates to spending my time the way I want. It means I'm not rushed and I don't need to be busy. Before I practiced mindfulness, my answer to what does money mean to you? was very different.


Using your time to learn how to BE you could be the most significant use of your time. What's your time for, anyway? What's your money for? How acquainted are you with . . . you, and where does getting to know you fall in your list of priorities?



May your day bring kindness and gratitude and plenty of opportunities for reflection.

mm

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