My daughter finally turned 10 today. Sitting at the table before the festivities, she showed herself worthy of Olympic clock-watching potential:

“Only 1 hour and forty….THREE minutes ’til my party!”

Of course she gets her talents from me.

I vividly remember a few Pittsburgh Youth Symphony rehearsals where I would STARE at the clock behind the percussion section, waiting in painful anguish for the 3 hours to be done.

Just like my daughter, I wasn’t content to be in the moment. I had to have something to look forward to in the future that would bring me lasting happiness.

10 years later I found myself as Personnel Manager for the Evansville Philharmonic, making sure that we started exactly on the hour and ended not more than two minutes after the duration (as long as the conductor didn’t stop).

I got paid to watch the clock.

But then I discovered that clock-watching is the complete antithesis of flow. Flow is the state where hours can go by in minutes, or a few minutes can stretch out to blissful eternity. Flow is being so caught up in the moment that you don’t even care whether time is or isn’t moving.

Timelessness feels amazing.

Clock-watching can be torture, especially in meditation.

Some of my all-time worst moments of restlessness and frustration have been in meditations that were too long for me to handle. GET ME OUT OF HERE—NOW!!!

After a few of those experiences, I learned not to push myself into tension with unrealistic expectations. Discipline is great, but too much is too much.

Over the years, I lost my fear of huge expanses of time in rehearsal or meditation. I’ve learned to trust that being completely in the moment is the absolute best thing possible. It’s a confidence that builds on itself.

But still there are times when I am horror stricken by what felt like an hour was only 35 minutes, with 2 hours to go.

Here’s what I do whenever I get stuck:

  1. Tense and relax the body.
  2. Focus on the breath.
  3. Offer my whole heart and soul into whatever I am doing.
  4. Turn my awareness within and try to deepen my perception of subtle energies: inner peace, the enjoyment of deep calmness, the thrill of inner joy, the warmth of Love.
  5. Allow whatever tiny glimmer I can perceive to resonate more completely within me. Give it the space and freedom to expand.
  6. Relax as much as possible and focus on whatever presence I am able to feel, whether it manifests in my heart, mind or soul.

My daughter, now resting peacefully, often experiences the joy of being fully in the moment. That is, until she realizes that it’s only 186 days ’til Christmas!

I’m a recovering clock-watcher

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