All my life, I’ve waged a war against time.
It has felt like an enemy when I was in the depths of my depression. It also has felt like an enemy when I’ve been the most fulfilled. This is how I know that time itself is not playing unfairly. It’s an equal opportunist.
Which means that the true opponent in this battle of not feeling good enough is me.
I recently saw the film “About Time,” which follows a young man who learns the men in his family can travel through time, but only back to the events of their own lives. Main character Tim decides to use this power to find love.
So when he’s talking with a girl and makes an absolute goof of himself, he simply ducks out and rewinds time to try the conversation again — this time with new information to help him say the right things.
How many times have you wanted to “open mouth insert foot” on a conversation you’ve had with someone else?
But we can’t time travel. We can’t start over as if certain things were never said.
Or can we?
If I could turn back time
Forgiveness of others, and yourself, can turn back time.
Its energetic center rests in the Heart Chakra, Anahata. When we forgive, we release our love back into a person or situation. And when we find that compassionate connection once more, it can truly feel as if the hurt never happened.
But that means sometimes our lives need to get ugly. We can’t cleanly rewind the tape and start over like in “About Time,” but we can confront someone or be confronted because of hurt feelings. If you never confront — if you only avoid — those feelings will stay frozen in time in your heart. This habit of avoiding becomes a samskara, an impressionable mark left in the body for much longer than the incident that caused it.
Let’s break this yogic concept of samskaras down. Sam means “complete or joined together” and kara means “action, cause, or doing.” Samskaras drive your actions in the world. You can think of it as your conditioning.
Here’s a physical example. For years and years, you’re used to having a sweet dessert after dinner, and then one day there is no dessert available. Your body will crave sweetness. It will feel like something is missing and it needs to get ahold of that dessert immediately. You can’t concentrate. Eating something else doesn’t help. Drinking water doesn’t help. You get stuck on needing that dessert.
Samskaras aren’t only physiological, though. They’re mental and emotional. They lead to having all your intimate relationships end in a similar way, even though you were with completely different partners.
Samskaras are usually the patterns and habits that are ingrained when we are young, and that we reinforce without even thinking about it as we grow up. They simply become the lens through which we see our lives, which is problematic because they hinder our ability to change and evolve and feel our enoughness.
A brand new life
The way to heal — to “win” your battle with time — is through the heart. It’s the heart that forgives and lets go and tells your brain, “It’s okay, we don’t need to think like that anymore.”
At the end of “About Time,” Tim’s father is dying from cancer and can’t go back to change it. He tells Tim the key to happiness:
Live each day as if you had a brand new life.
So Tim tries it out. He lives one day as usual, then relives that day as if he had a brand new life with no worries or concerns from the past. The same mundane things happen each day — grabbing lunch, being at work — but because he shows up with enthusiasm rather than going through the motions, he is more content with what is. He’s happy.
If that isn’t a yogic message, I don’t know what is.
What would change in your life if you stopped battling with the past and instead gave yourself permission to enjoy the present?
Practice: Ashtanga Namaskara, Eight-Limbed Pose
In the yogic tradition, the back body is believed to represent our past. Find strength despite past events in Eight-Limbed Pose, also referred to as Eight-Limbed Salute. It’s a reminder that before we move forward with flexibility, we must heal what is holding us back. This posture physically strengthens your arms and legs and trains the back of the heart between the shoulder blades.
- From Downward Facing Dog, exhale and drop your knees, chest and chin to the mat. Keep your abdomen strong by lifting the navel up.
- Engage the tops of the shoulders by pressing into the palms and drawing the elbows energetically back and towards one another. Press gently into the toes to find length through the back of the legs.
- Stay for three rounds of breath, feeling the heart and chin lightly supported on the ground. To come out, exhale and press forward between your hands, hips and legs flat on the mat. A natural continuation from here is Cobra Pose, or bring your hands forward and rest your forehead on the backs of the hands. Press into Reverse Plank or Child’s Pose to Downward Facing Dog to practice again.