Life can be crazy busy at times.
Between work, family, keeping healthy, commuting and socialising we can find ourselves being so busy just going through the motions.
But how often do you take the time outside your daily routine to question what you’re doing?
Or how well you’re doing?
Or more importantly, why you’re doing what you’re doing?
I fell into the busy trap too. I spent much of my twenties on autopilot. Robotically ticking off my to-do list while adding more to it. I spent years trying to climb the career ladder only to realise I hated what I was doing.
You see, I equated being busy with being successful. I thought that the harder I pushed myself, the better I would become. I thought that once I had it all I would be happy. I had everything I thought I wanted: the dream job, the nice house, the overseas holidays… only to end up sick, stressed and miserable.
I was using being busy as a distraction from the deep uneasiness I felt and I kept up this charade for years.
I was asleep at the wheel of my life and heading for a crash.
I never questioned why I was doing what I was doing and living that way. It just seemed like the thing to do. Not only did life feel meaningless, life really hurt. I had a permanent headache and insomnia for two years and didn’t realise that it was due to my busy lifestyle.
So how did I become unbusy and turn my life around?
I’m glad you asked. But first, let me introduce a different perspective on time…
The ancient Greeks had two words for time, Chronos and Kairos. Chronos is like Father Time, counting the seconds, minutes, hours and days with his hourglass. The Chronos concept of time feels like time is running out as we race against the clock.
Where Chronos is quantitative, Kairos is qualitative. Kairos time is when we’re in the zone or the state of flow. In Kairos we can experience the beauty of the moment.
Think of the greatest moments in your life where it felt like time slowed down. Births, deaths and near death experiences are all Kairos moments. Moments of time filled with meaning.
Kairos is when we’re deep in the present moment.
Kairos is the moment within the moment.
Miracles occur in Kairos.
I was living on Chronos and was deprived of Kairos. I was never present, I never really understood what that even meant and my life was robotic and devoid of the meaning I was desperately seeking.
But I found Kairos in the present moment.
I found the present moment when I found my breath.
I found my breath when I committed to yoga. Despite breathing all my life, I wasn’t very good at it, nor did I ever pay any attention to it.
When we become present to our breath, everything slows down. Presence helps us to shift into a lower gear and transition from doing to being.
And we are Human Beings, not Human Doings.
Kairos is being in the moment. Kairos is calm. In Kairos, time slows down. Kairos changed my world.
Where did I find Kairos? In the space between my breaths.
In the Vjnana Bhairava Tantra (ancient Indian text detailing the mysteries of life) the breath is considered a portal to presence (and Kairos). The following translation by Lorin Roche captures this magic beautifully.
The inhalation, the return movement of breath,
The outgoing breath purifies life.
We breathe out the old air, the old thoughts, the old feelings.
These are the two poles
between which respiration goes on unceasingly.
Between them is every quality you could ever desire.
As the breath turns from in to out,
and again as the breath
curves from out to in –
through both these turns, absorb intensity.
Enter these turning points
In the play of respiration and expiration,
Where the rhythms of life transform
Into each other.
Breath flows in, then surrenders to flow out again.
In this moment, drink eternity.
Breath flows out, emptying, emptying,
Offering itself to infinity.
Cherishing these moments,
Mind dissolves into heart,
Heart dissolves into space,
Body becomes a shimmering field
Pulsating between emptiness and fullness…
In any quiet moment when you are breathing,
the breath may flow out and pause of itself,
or flow in and pause of itself.
There, experience opens into an exquisite vastness
with no beginning and no end.
Embrace that infinity without reservation.
Dive into it, drink deeply of it and emerge renewed.
You’ve probably heard the saying that yoga doesn’t take up your time, it creates or gives you more time? This is a referring to trading Chronos for Kairos.
Maybe you catch a glimpse of Kairos with this breathing technique? Let me know how you go.
Yogis have always know that the breath has more than just physical properties. For many traditions, the breath has spiritual properties in that it can help us to access our selves on a deeper level of being. You can learn more about the timeless quality of the breath in our Breath and Meditation Course in June.