The Vagaries of Time

  • Well it has been quite some time since I last blogged on these pages.  No excuse really, apart from the fact I’ve been very busy and it has been difficult to have the time to sit and write a considered piece without taking the time from something else.  Considering this lack of time I seem to be experiencing at the moment got me thinking how vague we can be about it, especially where hypnosis is concerned.

    Perception of TImeOf course, time is a constant.  It is measured in a system thought up long before Christ, based on the Earth’s movement around the sun, the Moon’s movement around us  and refined into the units of measure we know today.  Tick-tock-tick-tock.  Hours, days, minutes, seconds.  All are immovable measurements of time, notwithstanding the four-yearly adjustment known as a leap year and the odd second adjusted by scientists here and there to bring the system back into line.  Time marches on, measured by our systems and there is nothing we can do to make it any other way.

    Except we perceive time in a number of different ways based upon what we are doing and even our mood.  Time distortion is a well known hypnotic phenomenon among hypnotists.  Very often a subject will emerge from hypnosis thinking only 10 minutes has elapsed when 40 minutes to an hour is more likely to be the case.  Less often it goes the other way and the subject believes that hours have gone by when in fact they’ve only been in hypnotic state for 30 minutes.  No matter which way it goes, time distortion is nearly always present in subjects undergoing hypnosis.

    Most people have said to themselves how time goes so quickly when they are doing something they enjoy.  Conversely, how time time drags when they are doing something less palatable.  As I have said many times before, hypnosis is a natural state we all dip in and out of all the time.  So would it follow that someone doing something they enjoy so much that time flies are becoming so focused on that thing that they are in a form of hypnosis?  Of course this wouldn’t fit the common public perception of what hypnosis is (aka subject looking knocked out on stage), but certainly fits the more knowledgeable definition used by practicing hypnotists.

    Even our memories often do not follow a chronological order.  Often you will find two people having experienced the same event arguing over particular timings of the details of that event or even the event itself.  As our minds mature, our memories do start to have some concept of time.  I didn’t know Mr X when that event happened, therefore, it must have happened before that meeting, which was around the time I bought my new car etc. etc.  But, when we were born we had very little concept of time and no concept whatsoever of the alphabet or figures that are used in traditional indexing.  Therefore,  the only way our minds knew how to index our memories is by emotion.  That’s why when you recall a happy time, you will start to smile or even laugh.  Likewise you may become tearful or melancholy when recalling sad times.  Recalling the memory, brings the emotion with it but often the exact timing of an event in your memory can be confused.

    Time is a scientifically proven constant, certainly.  But the way we perceive it, like so many other things, can see it being changed in so many ways.

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