Focus, Aging and Time Distortion
(an NLP Perspective)
by Karen Nelson, M.A., CHt

In experiencing the world, as we grow up and evolve, we each build
models of the world as we see it. This originally was a survival mechanism designed to protect us from known and unknown foes or from enemies that our elders perceived. We often forget that “the map is not the territory” and that our model comes from generalizations, distortions and deletions (Bandler and Grinder).

If you have a software program on your computer that is designed to help you with grammar and spelling, you might consider that your subconscious mind works in a similar way: your computer program underlines any suspect word (a word it does not recognize) or a phrase it believes is grammatically incorrect. Now, your subconscious mind (that part of you that responds to the world automatically) does the same thing only it goes one step further: it attempts to generalize the unknown to fit the model, throws out the unknown altogether or distorts it to fit the model. Many people have seen the exercise of reading a paragraph of seemingly nonsense words:
Aoccdrnig to rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoatnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be at the rghit pclae. The rset can be a toatl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit a porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe.
And we are able to read it because our subconscious mind creates sense out of it. You can raed tihs becuase yuor brian has seltced out the msitekas. It has generalized the unknown to the known. Or there is the exercise of saying the color of a word when the word represents a different color: Green, Red, Blue, Yellow, Blue, Black, etc. In this exercise, unless one can compartementalize easily, clearly our mind distorts what we see with what we hear in our mind’s ear. Finally, we have the exercise where one is asked to count the number of Fs in a sentence:
Now count the F's in that sentence.
Count them ONLY ONCE; do not go back and count them again.
How many are there?
Because our brain pronounces the F in the word OF as a V, we tend to delete the F in that word. We simply do not see it. There are six Fs.

When we depend on these models made up by our subconscious minds we are led into living a life where our time moves very fast and faster with each year, where we are out of touch with who we are most of the time because our subconscious minds (brilliant as they are) are designed to protect us at all costs by making a map of our world. When you drive the same route to and from work or the grocery store each time, the drive seems to go very fast. Occasionally, it can go so fast that its hard to recollect the drive. You went on “automatic pilot.” The cost of this automation is the sense of self. The subconscious mind does this automatically without our conscious attention. We forget and think that the map is the territory, causing us to lose focus on what is truly important for our physical and emotional health: that which gives us juice in our life, the things that give us joy and pleasure, a purpose in life, the journey!

Of course, our subconscious minds do many more things without our conscious knowledge or permission. It can keep us awake all night worrying about something we cannot effect right away. It can distort our perception of time. Remember the last time you took a trip to a new place or somewhere you haven’t been for a long time? Going there probably felt like a long time, but returning, time seems to fly by even though it was the same distance. Certainly, time itself is an invention of our minds, isn’t it? It truly does not exist outside of our minds though we love to think so! On January 17, 1994, Northridge, California and the surrounding areas experienced a large earthquake. Exactly one year later, January 17, 1995, Kobe, Japan experienced a large earthquake. Of course, we in Los Angeles at the exact time of the Kobe earthquake, experienced the date as January 16, 1995! So, where does time exist?

Now, many of us, as we grow older, experience time speeding up, quickening so to speak. Why is that? Is it because any unit of time represents a smaller portion of our total experience? When I was three years old, I remember feeling that the two weeks before Christmas was like forever! Now three and a half months seems like two weeks! Can you believe its already 2011? I believe this ratio idea is part of the explanation. Here is the other part: when one feels time passing very quickly, it has more to do with one’s lack of connection with one’s higher self and purpose, with living in the map. [With the exception of when you’re having fun and time seems to pass very quickly. This is a misnomer. Time doesn’t pass quickly in that instance, it is simply outside of your awareness.]

It is said that a watched pot doesn’t boil. This can easily be translated to a watched clock doesn’t move! If we are bored, time doesn’t move at all, it seems. So, our perception of time passing is dependent on what we are doing. Aside from those times when we are having fun and time is outside of our awareness, our brains look for evidence of our beliefs or values or for the map we have manufactured, and the focus, then, is on the past or on the future in a misguided attempt to protect us. If the subconscious mind can identify the “map,” it goes on “automatic pilot.” However, in those moments when you are in touch with your mission, with your goals, with your purpose, with the journey, time slows down to normal. This is when you are in touch with NOW.

Here is one way to consciousness of Now (paraphrased from Echart Tolle):

Focus first on your breathing. Take three deep in the belly breaths. Then, while you continue breathing normally, focus on the inside of your body parts: the muscles in your shoulders,
your arms,
your hands and fingers,
your chest,
your thighs,
your shins,
your ankles,
your feet.

Next become the observer of your own thoughts. Say to yourself
in your mind now, “I wonder what my next thought will be.”
And listen for it.
Listen for any emotions associated with those thoughts without labeling or judgment.
Hold onto this moment as long as you can,
focus on what thought will come to you and do not judge that one doesn’t.

Finally, observe the transformation inside of you,
the decrease in tension,
the fact that time has slowed down but does not crawl,
and imagine experiencing this every day as you go about the business of being the best you,
enjoying the life and freedom you were meant to enjoy.
Ten minutes a day
will give you a minimum of 59 hours a year of real time.
Real time in which you will find your mission, your purpose if you have not yet done so.
Time to hold the space for it to grow and mature.

This is the purview of hypnotherapy.

In hypnosis, you will experience this kind of NOWness as well as when you meditate in a way similar to what I've shown you here today. The difference is this: hypnotherapy is focused on helping you make the changes you specify to those models you have formed through identifications, associations and habit. It works with both consciousness and sub-consciousness to modify the associations you have built up over the years. And as you work through those associations, you will find it easier and easier to connect with your higher self.

Author's Bio: 

Karen Nelson, M.A., CHt is a Certified Hypnotherapist in Los Angeles, California and surrounding areas. Karen is also a member of Business Networking International. This article was written as a 10 Minute presentation for the Glendale Chapter of BNI, Business Advantage Network. Karen is the owner of Transesse Coaching. The term, transesse, was coined by Karen and refers to the process of elevating the self beyond a prior state of being.