How would you feel if you found out your most precious asset is being stolen from you on a daily basis?
I’m being just a wee bit presumptious here, assuming I know what your most valued asset is. Maybe it’s money. Maybe it’s your house or other possessions. Or your career and recognition in your field. More than likely it’s your family, kids, relationships. And on a personal level, health or mental well-being perhaps?
What you value most in your life could be one, several, or all of these things and more. But these are highly individual sentiments and depend on your unique personal situation. There is, however, one thing that remains essential to all human beings on a soul level, and that is sacred time.
What’s sacred time?
In the West (North), everything we do and the way we think is based on a linear conception of time. This is what the Maya call “ordinary time.” Running from one stage of life to another, from one appointment to the next, we live in a straight line, forgetting about the sacred geometries of cyclical, organic, nourishing time. Linear time makes us productive: it governs our careers, gets us to our appointments on time, balances our budgets, and ensures structure in our day so we don’t end up having dinner at dawn. And that’s all well and good.
There is another kind of time the Maya call “sacred time.” This is the time outside of time, whose energies cycle instead of flow. This is the very essence of being, the timeless existence of all things. Sacred time makes us whole: it keeps our relationships healthy and vibrant, profoundly attunes us to the world we live in and the influences that shape us, enables us to read, reflect, and fall in love, and soothes and enriches our mind, body, and spirit.
I write about this in greater detail in my book “The Serpent and the Jaguar,” but in short, we need both. We need ordinary time to get things done, and sacred time to enjoy life and understand ourselves and our purpose. It’s the age-old concept of complementary duality, of yin and yang. Too much productivity without rest and enjoyment causes stress and disease; too much enjoyment and reflection don’t pay the bills.
Most of us would probably agree it’s ideal to achieve balance in our lives. Yet, mercilessly, consistently, continually, on a daily basis, like water leaking from a garden hose drop by drop, our sacred time is being stolen. But by whom?
Everyone, including us.
When your boss or client asks you to work late or over the weekend, and you do, you are enabling them to steal your sacred time.
When you watch hours and hours of mindless TV, spend your evenings trawling the Internet and your weekends shopping, you’re letting the cable networks, media companies, and retailers steal your sacred time.
When you deny yourself the pleasure of a hot bath, an afternoon run in the park, a cuddle with your kids or loved one, or coffee with friends after work, you are stealing your own sacred time.
The good news is that as soon as you decide to take it back, you can. Just like that. It may require a few lifestyle adjustments, like setting aside a few hours a day at home or in a special place, or, in extreme cases, significant career or personal life changes. You can use your sacred time to meditate, daydream, rest, write, paint, listen to music, whatever makes you whole and genuinely happy to be alive. But the power to embody your sacred time really is in your hands. You just need to decide for yourself how to invite it back into your life, and honor that decision on a daily basis. Like any new practice or habit, it will take—ironically!—time, especially if you’re used to rushing from deadline to deadline to the next thing on your to-do list. So go easy on yourself; sacred time isn’t about hitting a deadline!
Yes, you’ll likely shock a few people who are used to taking your sacred time, but remember most are not doing it on purpose and most are not aware they’re taking something away from you. They’re living in the same conception of time you have been.
One of the best ways to start living with sacred time is to read a little about it, or talk to a few trusted friends (who won’t give you that “you need to get out more” look). The very process of reading, or engaging in a conversation with someone, pulls you out of the rat race mindframe. There are a few books about sacred time, such as “Sacred Time and the Search for Meaning” by Gary Eberle, and mine of course, “The Serpent and the Jaguar: Living in Sacred Time,” which may be the only book to explicitly align the Maya conception of sacred time to modern society.
Even if you’ve never heard of the Mayan Calendar or have no interest in it, you may be surprised just how relevant the Mayan conception of sacred time is to our frenetic modern society. In fact, it may be the one thing we didn’t know we need.
p.s. How do you spend your sacred time? Tell me about it in the comments!