Last month The Times reported that people who are too busy to listen to relaxation podcasts can try playing them twice as fast. “If you’re too busy to squeeze in a 20-minute session, listen at double speed. That’s the strategy Jacob Reyes, a 35-year-old web developer, used when his doctor urged him to meditate.” -The Times, July 18, 2017.
For most of us time is scarce – so scarce that even when medical advisors prescribe techniques for reducing stress to prevent disease, we look for efficiencies and short cuts.
In our book Slammed, Randy and I share evidence that shows when time is scarce, we start to engage in all sorts of crazy behaviors like counting the seconds it takes to do every single thing in our day. It took almost two minutes for your computer to load this morning! There was a line at the dry cleaner drop-off costing you at least 30 seconds! This hyper-focus becomes so strong we even apply methods of tight monitoring to our relaxation efforts.
It’s not like this everywhere.
Time is perceived, measured, managed, saved and spent based on where we live, what we do, our culture, and even the language we speak. There are plenty of anthropological examples of languages that don’t include references to past and future. And anyone who has ever found relaxation on an island – in the Caribbean, or the Pacific – knows that New York time and Hawaiian time are very different.
I have been thinking about this a lot lately. I am about to go on vacation for 12 days. I have never done this before. My previous personal record was 9 days—which felt truly decadent (and came with that accompanying twinge of guilt that I was being selfish). In Slammed we advise that people take vacation. Research confirms that all of us need sustained stretches of time to “disconnect”. Ever notice how much easier it is to give advice than to take it?
Disconnecting is critical. It helps us to establish a more healthy relationship with time. Changing our relationship with time means using our values to direct our time, instead of the other way around. Disconnecting from the dominant culture of time that we live in—whether on a long vacation, or with a 20-minute relaxation podcast, or through an hour of meditation—allows us to reconnect with our core values and recalibrate our lives to align how we relate to time with what we value most. Take the time to disconnect. This is the one area where we have to avoid the temptation to streamline, increase efficiencies, condense and systematize.
As podcast producer John Lagomarcino pleads in his rant against double-time listening, “give real time a chance.”