Mind The Gap, Part IV: Timing, how to get in front of the gap
As you play with creating more and more gaps between your previously known moments of awareness, notice the moment you realize you need to redirect yourself to make the most difference in your activity.
Here are some common timing pitfalls:
Direct yourself before the activity and your habit sneaks back into being before you do your activity.
Direct yourself just before the activity and have a sense that nothing is going to happen -- so you revert to the habit.
Direct yourself just before the activity and in doing so you lose the thread and mental focus of what you were going to do (for example, you forget the words to the song)
Start to direct yourself and somehow you have jumped ahead into the activity before you know it.
Direct yourself after the activity just begins and realize you were too late.
Direct yourself after the activity is over and realize you forgot to think and direct at all - oops.
It may feel, at first, like you have to go into slow motion to observe yourself between previous moments of awareness. It may feel like time expands and in some ways it has. The goal is not necessarily to take more clock time between your actions but to give more time to awareness. It may also seems like there is more space between actions.
Take, for example, the action of saying hello to a friend who has walked into the room.
What happens between the moment you realize your friend has come in and the moment you say hello? Where does your focus go?
One helpful way to find the gap is to recognize and register the moment you decide to do something and take action. Many of us jump into an action without even being aware that we made the decision to do something.
Follow this gap sequence when someone you know enters the room and you say hello to them. The moment:
You see or hear your friend.
You decide to greet your friend.
You look up to observe them - or decide to say hello without visual contact.
You start to take a breath before you speak.
The air turns, suspends and turns around before you speak.
The air moves before you phonate.
The sound starts on the “h”.
“Hello” comes out of your mouth.
Here are some other gaps to explore:
Move your eyes around the room you are in shifting your focus from one fixed point to another and notice your visual habits.
Choose points that are both close and far away.
Choose points that are to your right and left, up and down from each other.
Notice that once you decide to look at an object (pick up a book, open a door, pick up your water bottle), there may be an urge to jump to that object. How does your body prepare for the leap? Notice what part of your body leads the way to the new object?
If there is preparation of any sort? Any contraction in your body? Do your eyes change, does your breathing alter, or does your overall flow change at all?
Go back through the actions above and notice the moment you decide to do them. Then notice what happens next. Once you do that you have created a gap. What do you perceive? More space and more time will be there.
The key is to direct yourself in such a way as to interrupt your habitual response to an activity. It can be fun to play with this and see how long you can elegantly slide your attention and awareness in between things, mostly unnoticed to other people yet so effective in your experience and the outcome of your actions.