As humans in the twenty-first century, time is very much a part of our lives. We organise our days around time, using devices that synchronise with the Internet. We remember what we were doing last week, experience what’s happening now and plan for the future. We experience time passing slowly and quickly, run out of and feel the pressure of time. Intuitively, we experience and think about time in a linear way. Time is like an arrow that moves from the past, is experienced in the present, and flows into the future.
Interestingly, physicists tell us that time is not like how we subjectively experience it. Albert Einstein, wrote, “People like us who believe in physics know that the distinction between past, present, and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion.” He was writing about spacetime, the fact that time and space are inextricably linked in the universe. For physicists, spacetime is like a loaf of bread, which is cut through with present-moment slices. So, yesterday, last year, or one hundred years ago, are still there in previous slices of spacetime; the now of the present is similar to the here of space. Given the physics, it’s interesting that one efficient shortcut of evolution is that the same networks in the brain for processing space, also process time. We even use spatial metaphors when we talk about time, for instance, “that was a long meeting”, or “I look forward to meeting you”.
Even with how we normally understand time, we know that the present contains some of the past – like a wave contains the movement of the water behind it that pushes it to the shore. We bring our energy, level of focus, awareness, thoughts, beliefs, past feelings, habits, and behaviours into each new moment.