Time seems to be a topic of conversation in many circles these days. Lack of time, the acceleration of time, and the myriad of ways we keep track of each hour of the day, all of these issues create interference to finding inner peace. How does one attain a state of spiritual centeredness while in the midst of schedules, clock-watching, and the daily demands of life? Perhaps the ancient Greeks offer us a possible starting point.
The Greeks had two ways of expressing time, kairos (pronounced ky-ros) and kronos. Clock time, the way we measure linear time in our “real” world is kronos. Kronos is the name of the Greek God who swallowed his children. This is the time of the father/masculine world. Father Time departs at the end of each year as the old bearded man. Kronos time is time we are aware of, the way anxious children are aware of the hands of the clock as they move minute by minute towards 3:30 p.m., the magic hour when the bell signals the end of the school day. Kronos time is left-brained, analytical, real time.
Kairos time is the dimension of time we are absorbed into. This is the time of the mother/feminine. Whenever you engage in activities, both passive and active that nourish your soul, you are in kairos time. Experiencing your passion for something or someone leads you out of ordinary (kronos) time into the dimension of expansive or non-time (kairos). This is where you find yourself when you are engaged in heart to heart conversation with a dear friend or lost in the pages of a good book. Time passes without awareness or concern.
Stepping beyond the limiting and anxiety producing boundaries of kronos time into the wide-open expansiveness and freedom of kairos time is the first step towards finding inner peace. The engagement with the kairos dimension is paramount to establishing practices that will ultimately allow you to make the internal shift, no matter the immediate circumstances, to the still place within.
The rational world engages your mind, which keeps you on track. This kind of linear approach is necessary to accomplish the multitude of tasks required every day. However, you also need periods when the mind is stilled from its clock-watching, detail tending, and schedule making. There is a need to slip the bounds of kronos into kairos. The way one crawls over a fence from the speeding traffic of a highway, to step into a meadow of wildflowers, and onto a path leading to a quiet sheltered place for rest.
To signal the mind that you desire to shift from kronos to kairos time, try creating visual reminders and rituals to stimulate the intended physical, mental, and spiritual response. The quest for inner peace requires places that offer sanctuary and haven from the whirlwind of everyday life. Creating a place at home that incorporates beauty and sacredness, a nurturing and replenishing respite, provides the setting for inviting inner peace.
Look around your environment with soft focus, as though you’re experiencing a waking dream. What do you see? Are there dust bunnies playing on the floors, old newspapers piled on the chair in the corner, or plants dying of thirst on the kitchen windowsill? Clearing clutter, washing the windows, sweeping the floors, guarantees an elimination of visual distraction. “Cleanliness is next to Godliness,” is not an empty platitude. Bringing order to your surroundings is a way to begin to pave the road to inner peace.
In her book, Feng Shui for the Soul, author Denise Linn says, “Because objects are invested with symbolism, clearing things out of your home has a direct effect on your psyche. You are shifting the energy of your environment, which will in turn have an effect on your life. In other words, sooner or later you will experience the consequences of clearing the debris out of your life.”
The initial step towards finding inner peace is the creation of peace in one’s outer world. When clutter has been cleared and order has been made from chaos, spaces are transformed into portals leading to kairos time…….leading to inner peace. When the kitchen table is cleared of old bills, newspapers, and empty coffee cups, there’s room for a small vase of fresh flowers, a basket of touchstones, and a place for journaling. What was simply a table moments ago becomes a sacred altar for creativity. Sweeping the corner of your bedroom and arranging pillows against the wall, creating an altar from a box covered with a favorite scarf, adding candles, incense, and flowers, offers your mind a place to rest and invites your spirit to refreshment in the field of kairos. Your bedroom becomes a temple for your soul.
Finding peace within is a journey. Creating order and harmony in your surroundings illumines the path. Having a sacred space, a special place in your environment for quieting the mind, for journaling, meditation, reading sacred texts, or just being still, is an important provision as you seek inner peace. Naturally, you can’t sit on a futon all day or never leave the confines of where you live. How then is it possible to find peace within during the endless distractions of work, carpools, phone calls, and e-mail?
Visual reminders given various assignments as prompts and cues to call you back to your center, to kairos time, to inner peace, are needed throughout the day to help maintain the calm interior you experience in your haven/sanctuary at home. Everyday objects and seemingly numerous interruptions can be transformed into planks, that one by one create a bridge from the world of kronos to kairos.
Near my computer in my workspace I have created an altar of images and touchstones representing various saints who inspire my writing and other creative endeavors. Each time my eyes fall on these sacred icons, I am reminded to STOP and b r e a t h e I’m invited to go within to the deep resources of my soul for renewed energy, creativity, and guidance for my work.
Photographs of family and friends are carefully arranged on my desk. As I shuffle papers and turn to my calendar the faces of these loved ones remind me to STOP and b r e a t h e, and to dive into my heart to embrace gratitude for the precious people in my life. Peace washes over me. I have slipped the confining bounds from kronos to the open potentiality of kairos for an instant. That singular moment expands to encompass another dimension just a breath away from the world of ringing phones and unopened e-mails. Each time I embrace one of these interludes, I return to the task at hand, renewed, energized, and centered.
Finding inner peace is a journey and the vehicle is time….kairos time. The invitation today is to STOP and b r e a t h e in order to recognize how it feels to your body, mind, and spirit when you shift from kronos to kairos time. Remember this is only a starting place. Reach beyond habitual limiting boundaries and contemplate the countless creative ways you can begin to embrace the spiritual peace within your own soul.