What does your life taste like?
What did you have for breakfast this morning?
Was it the same as always?
Did you notice what it tasted like or were you too busy with your morning routine to pay it any attention?
The older you get the faster time flies, right? Christmas only seems like five minutes ago and Monday rolls around again with frightening speed.
If you think back to when you were a child the school summer holidays seemed to go on for EVER didn’t they? But now, as an adult six weeks disappears in the blink of an eye.
I once read a theory that our perception of time changes as we get older because we have fewer new experiences each day.
When we were children, every day held the promise of learning, seeing or doing something we had never done before. Processing these new experiences required our brains to work hard to assimilate all the new knowledge we had gained that day.
Fast forward to adult life.
Get up. Have a shower. Get dressed. Gobble breakfast. Commute to work. Work. Gobble lunch. Work. Commute home. Eat dinner. Slump in front of the TV. Go to bed.
Nothing to see here, nothing new to report.
When our brains have to work hard to make sense of new experiences this manifests itself in a feeling that time is stretched out. Sure, it’s the same physical length of time, it just feeeeels longer.
When we’re on automatic pilot, doing things that are so familiar that we don’t even have to think about what we’re doing, there’s not much brain processing required. Time feels like it has collapsed in on itself and before you know it it’s the end of the week. Again.
If we challenge ourselves to experience the mundane in different ways, taking a different route to work for example, it may well be possible to put the brakes on and slow time down.
So, back to your breakfast.
I bet you didn’t notice how good that first sip of tea tasted. How the steam tickled your nose as you put the mug to your lips. How the hot liquid stimulated your tongue and how you could feel the heat in your throat as you swallowed.
You don’t necessarily need to slow down to pay attention to these details, you just have to remember to be mindful of them. Being more present and properly noticing these sensations will give your brain something to think about, some work to do.
Mindfulness is a buzzword at the moment. Those in the know evangelise about feeling more fulfilled, satisfied and generally calmer and less frazzled. Their lives aren’t any less busy than those the rest of us lead, they are just experiencing them with more attention.
I’m going to try and really savour my tea in the morning. I’ll notice all the different browns and golds of my toast, the slick of margarine and the glossiness of the marmalade. I’ll be aware of how all these flavours meld together.
And when Friday comes, today will seem like ages ago.
(Previously published on alittlebitofpeaceandquiet.com Feb 16, 2015.)