Dawn is a glorious time to be awake! The sky heralds the soon arrival of the visible sun with splashes of color and light from a palette of singular beauty. Twilight- the time of day when there is visible light in the sky, but the sun is below the horizon, occurs slightly less or more than an hour before sunrise. There is some variation based on location and season, as well as who is doing the measuring!
For example, the Talmud is read by many to say that seventy two minutes is the timeframe for this light to be visible prior to sunrise. Civil twilight is based on the sun being six degrees below the horizon. Nautical twilight ranges from six to twelve degrees below the horizon for the visible sun’s location (so you’d see the outlines of large objects in this instance). Astronomical twilight ranges from twelve to eighteen degrees below the horizon for the sun’s position and light here is so faint that it’s illuminance is meaningless.
It’s easier to move around in dawn’s light or civil twilight than in the relative darkness of nautical or astronomical twilight. Earth’s rotation brings the image of the sun from the east every morning, an existential rhythm that has inspired art, faith, industry and every form of production in living memory. The simple presence of light so deeply regulated our activities that life’s work happened between sunrise and sunset. It wasn’t practical or even possible for millennia to engage in field work, craftsmanship or business in the absence of light by which to travel, see the lands or care for crops, flocks and workspaces.
Dawn calls us to prepare for the sunrise in some manner, the ritual of honoring the return of daylight has dominated our engaged imagination through the centuries. Art, faith, focus and the routines of our individual and collective lives are still shaped by it. Old sundials fire the mind with curiosity about these long forgotten times and the customs of the peoples who lived without many of our modern conveniences. Temples that referenced sunlight during the summer or winter solstice such as Machu Picchu built in the fifteenth century by the Incas and located high in the Andes weren’t uncommon.
India’s Konark and Modhera sun temples were built in the thirteen and eleventh centuries, respectively and keep company with many others. Egypt’s fifth dynasty produced a number of sun temples beginning in the twenty fifth century BC (or BCE), Karnak was an Egypian temple complex in use for between seventeen and twenty centuries (2000 to 1700 BC and 300 to 35 BC approximate range) whose principal deities were Amun (later Amun-Ra, as he became fused with the sun god Ra), his consort mother-goddess Mut and moon-god son Khonsu.
The disposition to worship or to celebrate light in some form is an intrinsic part of the human experience. In faith today, it might be considered more a matter of spirit than of astronomy, but the impulse is enduring. Even in an era of abundant light through all the hours of the day and night, we still prefer to start our days early and end them within a couple of hours of sunset insofar as work norms for school, employment and government.
In circles where personal work is a topic of discussion, inner light comes up as a common thread. We all want to see our way forward clearly and we all aspire to possess that spark of divine light that can be kindled to full flame through focus and through flow. We aren’t so different from our human ancestors, even if the world and all of our opinions about it seem much changed. We’re less likely to bow before the sunrise, but we try to salute the sacred light in ourselves and in others.
We define it differently. Whether the guiding light is God, Christ, the Higher Self, Wisdom or something altogether different, we need a star to steer our ships by, and landmarks to measure our progress by. Our maps of the spiritual night sky and topography may vary, but forward motion requires some comparative points that allow us to measure direction, speed, distance and elapsed time.
What happens when we have no points of reference? Our motion may be circuitous, lateral or regressive. Essentially, we’ve wasted our resources of time, motivation, focus and energy. Disappointing, certainly. It’s important to maintain momentum in order to maintain movement: it’s equally important, however, to be able to see where you are going and measure your forward progress.
Otherwise, you may find, with Solomon that: “The sun rises and the sun sets… and hurries back to where it rises. The wind blows to the south and turns to the north; round and round it goes, ever returning on its course. All streams flow into the sea, yet the seas is never full.” (Eccl 1:5-7a NIV) This is the price of living without consciously accounting for the light. There might be a lot of motion, even a great many achievements, but the questions of intention, motivation and significance are missing from the scene.
If you’ve lost momentum, motion or even movement due to a lack of meaningful clarity and insight, you might be tempted to just drift along. Your outer life is moving along with its rhythms and routines, but somehow your inner life is unable to move along with it. Ever gotten the sense that you’re well and truly STUCK? You feel frozen, unable to progress towards your goals. You’re experiencing inner STASIS and you’re not going anywhere! What happened? We live outside of the constraints of time. But when our focus goes off to engage with other stories, it means that the PRESENT is on HOLD.
You know how this goes sometimes- you call in to your doctor’s office to make an appointment. You’re just about to finalize the date and time, and the receptionist says- “please hold”. And there you are, stuck! You’re not getting that appointment until she gets back on the line. Did she have to deal with a patient? Did somebody stop by the desk with some juicy gossip about those two lab techs that are dating? Did she spill coffee on her laptop?
We may never know, because her FOCUS is elsewhere and WE are here in the moment, stuck. When your attention is elsewhere than the ideal center of focus for the current context, it’s behaving exactly like that receptionist! Your wandering, distracted and anxious mind has divided its faculties and your perceptive and reflective acuity are going to suffer. Can you even tell where you’re going and how much, if any, progress you’re making towards your vision through the achieving of your goals?
So, what is the mechanism that makes up focus and how is it divided? Well, through our FOCUS, we travel to the PAST, PRESENT and FUTURE and places of DISTRACTION. Although we experience our physicality as bounded by the present, our BEING can be said to exist in these other spaces of the past, present, future and places of distraction. The more fragmented our focus due to fatigue, anxiety or inadequate self-regulation, the worse our performance will become. And, let’s be honest, performance matters! An embodied life is the only whole life than any of us has, so what we do is tied to where we expend the majority of our focus, energy and time.
What if I said that my goal is to lose twenty pounds between now and the end of the year? It’s a relevant goal! It’s specific and it’s measurable and it’s time bounded. Now- what if- in order to fulfill that goal, I began reading all of the recipes online I could find that matched with my diet? Good start, right? Okay, now- what if I went out, bought the groceries, cooked some meals ahead for the week and packaged them up? Great! Now, what if I start obsessing over the fact that I can’t eat bread, drink beer or pile up the dinner plate with my favorite casserole? I get stuck on that loop and start getting frustrated.
See what I’m doing? The story has somehow changed from “let’s lose some weight and I can really DO this” to “drat, this sucks…”. Before you know it, my motivation begins to ebb, my attention is less on that goal and more on the costs to be paid along the way and I’m now in the danger zone! I can either take steps to recover my focus and engagement… OR I can drift along on the current of my distraction until I’ve forgotten why I ever wanted to do this project in the first place. The year ends with the goal still undone and I’m now less likely to reengage the goal because I don’t want to risk failing again.
In terms of our energetic output- the places that we choose to engage and focus as opposed to the ones we don’t-there’s ALWAYS some kind of a storyline. We’re always reworking our stories in light of the information on hand. Back to the receptionist with too many things going on simultaneously, how does that divided focus affect the patient waiting on the line? Well, it depends on the story that comes up when the receptionist comes back on line. You’ll be at least a little sympathetic if she was attending to another patient. Or if she spilled coffee on her laptop.
But if she had a mini gossip session? Or FORGOT about you while you were on hold? Yeah, then the sympathy might be a little lower. Of course, you’re only going to know if you get the information and you’ll react or respond based on that narrative. Our focus acts on the tension between these stories from the past, the present and the future and any incoming information that changes them.
You’ll get off the phone with the doctor’s office with one kind of impression if the receptionist told you what happened and apologized for the delay. It’s likely to be favorable. Or at least neutral. But you’ll get off the phone with the doctor’s office with a very different view if you were taken off “hold” and hear laughter and joking in the background. Plus no apology. Plus her finishing her chat with the office tech about that hot couple of lab techs.
Even if you’ve always thought that this doctor’s office was just fine until today, now you’re irritated. Suddenly, you remember that they billed you twice for that copay… yeah, that sucked. You’re reworking your narrative about the doctor’s office in your PAST, PRESENT and FUTURE based on the information in hand and how you feel about it. Your internal FACULTIES are able to move to other points along the timeline, even though the physical you is always HERE, in the present. When our focus is elsewhere, we’re stuck.
Okay- let’s look at what happens when we’re in STASIS because our focus is specifically aimed at the past: BUBBLES- we live in one place at a time. One set of circumstances, relationships, beliefs and emotions. One point on the Time Line. Our present BUBBLE. Think about how many intervals you’ve lived through: who your family was in your earliest years… school… first date… first job… first car… These can be very special memories. Mostly good. Some bad, too! All of these events were transitions. They helped to change something significant about how you did life every day. You may have popped the old BUBBLE and moved to a new one.
Even though a circumstantial BUBBLE pops, its influence and impacts live on. Its influence and impacts live on in MEMORY. You remember how things happened, including some key details about the places, people and other pieces of those distant times. ts influence and impacts live on in VISION. You remember how you FELT about how things happened. What you DID think about how it would affect you in the future.
Now, that STORY may have shifted. New information changes how we FEEL about old memories. A BUBBLE happened. Once. THAT bubble NEVER came your way again. BECAUSE- a BUBBLE is a singular confluence of elements operating within time. When they POP, we sometimes resist acknowledging it. Pieces degrade. Deteriorate. Rot. But we’re still living in an Old Narrative. A shroud.
Sometimes the bubble wasn’t wholly popped. It was wounded. Leaking emotion. Leeching energy from the process of sustaining the new bubble. The new bubble has formed. It’s inevitable. But we’re dragging bits of the old one along for the ride. Some of these narratives are about powerful regrets. Stories whose impacts are still active, resonating and vibrating in the present time. Long after the transition has happened. Because we didn’t fully process the transition.
The new bubble is life giving. Life sustaining. But it can be infected by attachments to pieces of the old one. Time- unfolds only WITHIN the current bubble. Our internal FACULTIES unfold BOTH INSIDE of the BUBBLE… and OUTSIDE of the BUBBLE. So- they OPERATE in TIME. And NOT-TIME. (Because our BEING can be said to exist in the PAST, PRESENT and FUTURE.)
It’s our Spiritual, Intuitive and Imaginative faculties that operate throughout all of the INTERVALS that we experience. The BUBBLES? They STILL exist in the view of these internal faculties.
Because we still feel the impacts of what we HAVE experienced, And IMAGINE how we felt.
Because we feel the impacts of what we DO experience. And INTUIT how we feel.
Because we expect to feel the impacts of what we WILL experience. And ENVISION how we will feel.
The THREE NARRATIVES are always operating… Collaboratively… Interrelating… Interpreting… Themselves… In light of the information on hand.
AND in light of how we INTUIT that we DO FEEL about the information ON HAND.
AND in light of how we IMAGINE that we FELT about it in the past.
AND in light of how we ENVISION that we WILL FEEL about it in the future.
Okay- we’ve established that our INTERNAL FACULTIES interact with the PAST, PRESENT and FUTURE.
We rework the stories that we tell ourselves about these BUBBLES or INTERVALS whenever we have new INFORMATION ON HAND.
We get STUCK- go into STASIS in the PRESENT TIME when our FOCUS is directed elsewhere. STASIS is most likely to occur when the ELSEWHERE is at some point in our past.
These intervals that we experience through our internal faculties are NOT-TIME. They are psychic or energetic manifestations of things that we have experienced, and the meanings that we have made, do make and will continue to make out of them. Our narratives write themselves out of our reactions, unless we mediate them through a response.
We can only DWELL in ONE BUBBLE at a time…
BUT, we may be haunted or inspired by the energetic and psychic echoes of OTHER bubbles. We’re still ENGAGED with, PREOCCUPIED by and ATTACHD to the WRONG bubble.
It exists, but only in Not-Time. It’s only accessible through our internal faculties. Regaining your freedom from stasis is a critical first step in shifting your life towards the rhythms and routines that support your goals and your vision of the ideal life. A skilled coach can show you how. Call us, we’re here to help!