Rebecca Elia's Blog

All about Feminine Health, Healing, and Greece

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Lost and Found in Linear Time, Revisited

I shared a conversation with two dear friends tonight about linear time, or, rather, the absence of. We hadn’t glanced at the time once, and in the blink of an eye, more than four hours had passed. I remembered a previous blog post I had written about stepping out of linear time; they requested that I repost it. I wrote the original within a few days of hearing Caroline Myss talk about stepping out of linear time and of watching the season finale of Lost. Here’s a slightly updated version:

I recently realized that midlife has much more in common with adolescence than just hormones. Sure, my face has been breaking out, and it’s the first time in thirty years that I’ve had to watch my weight. But, I also find my mind drifting back to my younger years. As a child I had (the illusion of) huge blocks of unscheduled time. I would read for days, often staying up all night to finish dime store romances. My family spent three months each summer at our mountain cabin. I played the piano for hours on end. I lost track of time; I seemed to have all the time in the world. My mother was careful not to fill our childhood days. My heart and breath constrict when my friends list the activity-packed lives of their children. “More is better--structure is better” has hit even our preschools. Little three and four-year old lives are filled with organized controlled stations forcing them to “play” in socially-specified ways.

Linear time monopolized my life from medical school onward. To be honest, for eight years, I didn’t have a life. After I completed my residency, I attempted to re-create what I had as a child--three months off annually. I worked part-time and traveled to Greece, but eventually ended up in a high-powered full-time position that almost ended me. As soon as I completed my board exams and paid back my student loans (which took only two highly-motivated years) I moved to Maine. There, I worked part-time and, with the help of the four seasons, slowed down. Once again I was reading, practically every night. I was meditating, shamanic journeying, learning from mystics, immersing myself in nature, and living the hermetic life. I loved it. I was reminded of something…me! Then I moved to Greece and became a hermit of a different sort, surrounded by community.

When I returned to California, four years later, linear time once again took over my life. It wasn’t until I hit forty-nine that I suddenly yearned to travel backwards. At midlife, my life once again stood still.

The Greeks have different words for different types of time. Leslie Keenan discusses these in her wonderful book, It’s About Time. Many Americans are aware of only one type of time, the linear kind. There are unaware of the space between time, that of deep stillness and silence.

I love stillness. I love quiet. It may make me a difficult neighbor, but it feeds my soul. If you are running non-stop, if you fall asleep before you can complete your prayers, if quiet and stillness make you uncomfortable, if you are one of the people who asked me what I did for eighteen months when I lived in Greece, or if I was bored or lonely when I lived in Maine, then you may be missing out on important gifts from non-linear time—regenerative capabilities, intuitive and archetypal wisdom, spiritual guidance, creative birthing, lightening-speed change--just to name a few.

Consider, for one non-linear moment, time as multidimensional, collapsing on itself. Think circles rather than straight lines; then think multi-dimensional. Think folds, like genetic structures. Think past lives, archetypal experiences, different times cycling back on each other. Think the TV show Lost during its last season—and if you did to see it, remember what happened to the characters that were passing through time too rapidly? That’s right--bloody noses and headaches followed by death! Packing more and more into linear time has the same devastating effects as jumping rapidly from point to point in time. Both result in our being lost in time. If all we get are bloody noses or headaches, then we’re getting off easy.

If you happen to be lost in linear time, the following are a few places where you may be found:

1. Become aware of your breath (never seems to work for me, but that doesn’t mean that it won’t work for you!).
2. Focus on your senses (Come to your senses!).
3. Focus on now—not past, not future.
4. Immerse yourself in something you love, something you’re passionate about, or in someone you love or are passionate about.
5. Connect with nature.
6. Receive body work—massage, acupuncture, or other forms of energy work.
7. Practice regression hypnotherapy.
8. Create a meditation or prayer practice.
9. Be still; be quiet.
10. Create rituals.

My favorite ways to step out of linear time (not in any particular order):

1.Taking a walk
2. Prayer, stillness, quiet
3. Regression meditation
4. Listening to music
5. Playing the piano
6. Reading a good book
7. Traveling to Greece
8. Writing
9. Creating jewelry
10. Spending time with special friends and family (especially children!)

What are your favorite ways? I invite you to step out of linear time and find yourself again!

Recommended Resources:

1. Caroline Myss’ book Defy Gravity and Hay House Radio talks
2. Leslie Keenan’s book It’s About Time
3. Eckhart Tolle’s book The Power of Now
4. The last season of Lost
5. Brian Weiss’ books, such as Many Lives Many Masters, and his regression CDs, such as Spiritual Progress Through Regression


  1. Beautiful images, especially thinking of time "folds, like genetic structures." Thank you for all your action and thought suggestions about time, as well as the readings and sharing your experience. Was directed to your post by @juliedaley

  2. Thank you, Garrett, for your lovely comments. So glad you found your way here through beautiful Julie.