A Sanskrit poem from Kalidas, an Indian poet during the 4th century, beautifully captures the importance and gravity of our time today:
Look to this day,
for it is life, the very breath of life.
In its brief course lie
all the realities of your existence;
the bliss of growth,
the glory of action,
the splendor of beauty.
For yesterday is only a dream,
and tomorrow is but a vision.
But today, well lived,
makes every yesterday a dream of happiness,
and every tomorrow
a vision of hope.
Look well, therefore, to this day.
In this poem “today” is “the very breath of life”, while “yesterday is only a dream, and tomorrow is but a vision.” This means having time consciousness of “today” will help us live well. I am using the term time consciousness to convey the awareness of our personal time on this planet as a finite resource. While none of us really likes to think that our time today is not unlimited, the consciousness of our personal time as being limited has powerful implications for self-healing and living our best life.
Time consciousness can provide us a useful perspective on our past hurts and wounds. How much of our precious present time should we dedicate to pondering and rehashing the wrongs we feel have been done to us, to the traumas, injustices, rejections, and betrayals we have been through? After thoroughly processing these incidents to our satisfaction, perhaps our energies can be better spent on things that are of greater value to us. What are those things that we would like to focus our time on instead? Is it possible to give ourselves what we need to heal so that we can focus our time today on the things we deeply care about?
Time consciousness is a tremendous source of motivation to be thankful for the time we have been given today and do our best with it. In what ways can we improve the quality of our emotional, mental, physical, spiritual, and social life? What is the bigger picture we have in mind for us?
Time consciousness also gives us the necessary feeling of immediacy and urgency. Using time consciousness, we can appreciate the fact that, regardless of the past or the future, today, the present time, is the best option for living life the way you would like to live, based on your individual values.
Time Consciousness in Self-Healing
To honor life:
Much like Kalidas’ poem, the purpose of bringing time consciousness into the conversation about self-healing is to honor our life today. The idea is to move away from living life in a reactive way to all that has happened to hurt us and to instead begin to move toward living life in a purposive way. When we experience trauma or betrayal, we default to being defined by it. However, we also have the choice to emerge from it (rather than being submerged by it) with greater clarity about ourselves. Time consciousness provides us the essential perspective to make this choice and recalibrate our present time. To honor the finite time we have been given, we owe it to ourselves to self-heal so that we may live by purposeful, intentional design rather than default.
To find the “heal” in health:
Time consciousness means respecting the physical vehicle (body) we have been given. It means listening to the knowledge of our body, beyond satisfying hunger, thirst, desire, and sleep. It means intertwining taking good care of your physical health as well as listening to your heart.
To live from your gift, passion, or legacy:
According to a May 2019 study in JAMA Network Open, a strong life purpose was associated with decreased mortality rates. The implication is that we need to disrupt our own autopilot and take steps to live from the talent, purpose, gift, or passion that is inside us. It is by sharing this precious talent, purpose, gift, or passion that we can connect with ourselves, others and feel the power of the present.
Whether we live by the design of our purpose, gift, passion, or by default, we are currently living/demonstrating by example the legacy by which we will be remembered. If we live from the talent, purpose, gift, or passion we have, we maximize our soul and become a positive force in the community.
Collapsing past or future, the reflection questions below draw your focus on the bigger picture of today. Answers to these are the action steps you can use for time consciousness in Self-Healing.
All else being equal, identify three things on which you would like to spend your present time.
What is one way you can begin to spend your present time on these three things?
Name three things that hold tremendous personal meaning, importance and value.
What is one thing you can give yourself to heal so that you can begin to shift your attention from wounds to what you dearly want?
If you had to summarize your legacy in one word, what would it be? Why?
Does the way you spent today reflect your legacy? Why/Why not?
Based on what you stand for, what is one step you can take today to become a positive force in the local or global community?
Sonia Sharma speaks and writes about self-healing and living one’s best life. She also serves as a University Lecturer at various prestigious institutions such as Stanford, Columbia University, and UC Berkeley. She has been interviewed on radio and television shows, participated and presented at international conferences, and published articles and books.