Tiny Wisdom: When Time Feels Constricting

“An unhurried sense of time is in itself a form of wealth.” ~Bonnie Friedman

Have you ever felt controlled by time?

This has been a lifelong challenge for me. Sometimes it can be difficult for me to truly immerse myself in the present, because I can feel constricted by imaginary strings, tethered to an invisible clock.

Years back, I always snapped from ease to anxiety at the end of a yoga class, tiptoeing toward the door with an eye on my watch while others melted into bliss in their final relaxation pose.

While I now allow myself to take a full shavasana (and leave my watch at home), I still occasionally find myself being rigid with time.

Just this weekend, I rode my bike from Santa Monica Beach to Venice Beach and back, and planned to walk around for exactly a half-hour between rides.

But I didn’t have a good reason for that arbitrary scheduling; I had other things to do that day, but no need to limit myself to exactly 30 minutes of exploring.

So instead of following my well-laid plan, I chained my bike and then walked along the shore for as long as I felt like doing it—which turned out to be a little shy of an hour.

It almost felt like time stopped, just because I stopped thinking about it. And it didn’t cause any great disruption to my day. If anything, it enhanced it, because that sense of freedom and ease permeated everything else I did.

I realize we can’t always disregard the clock, but we can liberate ourselves by expanding beyond our self-imposed restrictions—even if it only means lingering for just a little longer than usual.

Maybe it’s choosing to sip your coffee while basking in the sunlight for a few minutes, instead of rushing to your car.

Or chatting with someone new at the gym for a bit instead of hightailing it to the showers.

Or simply releasing the urgency that creates haste and stress.

Remember when we were kids, and we tried to do something difficult, like sign our names in cursive? The adults in our lives often told us to take our time—to realize there was no rush, so we could just relax and focus on the task at hand.

Usually that only took a moment or two more than it would otherwise, but those minutes made a huge difference.

Isn’t enjoying our lives just as worthy of that relaxed attention?

We all have places to go and things to do, but we can only enjoy those experiences if we release the tension that binds us. Most often, we put that pressure on ourselves—which means we have the power to release it.

Photo by h.koppdelaney

About Lori Deschene

Lori Deschene is the founder of Tiny Buddha and Recreate Your Life Story, an online course that helps you let go of the past and live a life you love. Her latest bookTiny Buddha’s Gratitude Journal, which includes 15 coloring pages, is now available for purchase. For daily wisdom, follow Tiny Buddha on Twitter, Facebook & Instagram..

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  • Couldn’t agree more on this one. Our parents would tell us to take our time, it’s true; and what happened when we didn’t? Our cursive name was all messed up, or our shoes were tied too loose, or whatever we were doing didn’t turn out so great. We should definitely remember that as adults!

  • Nice post Lori. I’ve been experimenting with all kinds of little ways of letting go of arbitrary things like portions and other things as a way to practice exercising willpower as well as being more flexible and adaptable; less rigid and stuck.

    Letting go of arbitrary time constraints will be a good addition.


    Best regards,


  • Mindful searcher

    Thanks. We all need to reminded not to be a slave to the clock. So often we miss the pleasure of the present because we are focused on the future, a future that is really a figment of our anxious minds.

  • Judy

    I moved from a busy urban life to a very relaxed country town – this post exactly explains the difference between the two places.  It took me a little while to get used to the difference but I love it.  Every one tells me I need a structured life – but the unstructured life is so much more relaxed.  It allows me to take advantage of so many more unforeseen opportunities.  I couldn’t put into words the difference until I read this post and that is exactly what it is.  I am not anxious about where I should be or what I should be doing.  I can stop and enjoy each moment and appreciate it – knowing that things will happen in their own time.  This is not the lifestyle for everyone but it is heaven for me.

  • I know all about that! I need to remind myself often to simply be where I am–or as my friend Erin put, “Freedom is where my feet are.”

  • That sounds like a beautiful life Judy! I love that sense of freedom and ease that comes from being unstructured. I really think that most of what I want in life is simple. It’s only when I start questioning what I want, comparing it to other people’s goals, that things get complicated.

  • That’s a good one, regarding portions. I actually haven’t stopped to appreciate that I’ve made great strides with that. I was an obsessive calorie counter for years, and it’s really since I met my boyfriend that I’ve let go in that regard. He’s a passionate foodie–first thing in the morning, and last thing at night, he’s looking at dishes from restaurants on Yelp on his iPhone! And what’s really amazed me is that I’m the exact same weight that I was when I met him–even now that I’m far less rigid. The greatest part is that I enjoy food much more. I’m so grateful for that!

  • Yes, absolutely! I remember in third grade, a friend of mine called me Speedy Gonzalez because I always did everything so fast. Sometimes that worked out okay for me, with a quiz when I knew the answers, for example. Other times it sucked the joy out of things–like when I was rushing to finish my art project first. I didn’t realize back then that the point wasn’t to finish first–it was to enjoy it so much that I didn’t even think about finishing.

  • frankiegolightly

    Oh how I identify with this post!  I was frustrated with myself about this only a few days ago.  At the end of last year I moved from London to the Maldives where I work 70 hours and get one day off a week.  On that day off I go to the beach if I can, but I find myself lying there constantly checking the time to make sure I stay for the two hours I’ve allocated myself (one hour each ‘side’).  Why two hours?  Why the pressure?  I’ve no idea – purely something I’ve made up!  Thanks for the reminder to make time to enjoy paradise 🙂      

  • Meredith Allison @RockTique

    Thanks for this post, a reminder I desperately needed! I’ve got to add that I too was nicknamed Speedy Gonzalez, very funny! (although not so funny when you consider *why*) Thank you once again for this great post!

  • You’re most welcome, from on Speedy Gonzalez to another. =)

  • You’re most welcome! It’s comforting to know I’m not alone with this struggle. What kind of work do you do there? I’ve always wanted to visit the Maldives!

  • frankiegolightly

     Come see me!!  I work for a company that has 11 spas on different islands.  Even paradise brings it’s own frustrations but I just have to look out the window to appreciate how lucky I am 🙂

  • Oh wow really? That sounds amazing! 

  • Paul_richards63

    Turn off the phones and the tablets/pc’s and just breathe, nothing more nothing less. Breathe, relax, just be. We all seem to be in a rush to achieve something, yet we still yearn for more me time and yet we end up still chasing time achieving nothing.

  • such a breath of fresh air!  Thanks again Lori. 

    I’ve been purging and reorganizing my “To Do List” and “Goal List” for about a month.  Last week I decided to only schedule things that I had to be on time for.  Coaching calls, work, Newsletter etc. Then just have a group of files organized with different Projects I’m working towards achieving.

    Now I wake up in the A.M and think, what would be fun to do today.  I grab it, work on it until it’s not as much fun and go for a walk, come back to the drawing board and grab another folder of things to do….which reminds me. I think it’s time to get my Stand Up Paddle Board out on the Lake……my body needs some movement and Vitamin D.Love your work kiddo!  

  • Thanks Tim! That’s a great idea, allowing spontaneity like that. I’ve never actually gone paddle boarding. That sounds like so much fun! =)

  • If you want to try it out, a friend of mine lives in the Venice Area and is an instructor.  He’s also part of the Marina Del Rey Outrigger Canoe Club.  It’s so much fun to paddle.  

    I used to paddle my one man canoe out of MDR past the Venice Pier up towards Malibu almost every day while I wrote the first 8 drafts of the book.  
    Please stop and say hello to my mother (ocean) for me.  😉

  • Oh very cool! Thanks Tim. I’ll say hello for you. =)

  • Christina

    amazing as always!! 😀

  • Thanks Christina!

  • Klarissa Mae

    Love this blog Lori! I think its easy to get caught up with the hustle and bustle of things, especially living in a city like Los Angeles. I too hit the showers right after yoga when that could be time spent connecting with my fellow yogi’s. Its an underlying anxiety to get things done and not having ‘enough time.’ But the time that I wasn’t giving was enough time for myself. TIme to connect, time to be me, time to relax in fear that I wasn’t where I was supposed to be whether that was in life or a deadline the next day. Thanks for the great reflection Lori!

  • You’re most welcome. I know that anxiety all too well! And I also know the value of me time after resisting it for so long. Hope you having a relaxing weekend. =)

  • Time is a big one. It goes so fast and there is never enough of it. And everyone around seems to be in the same boat. But the reality is that we all have time. That is one thing that we all have equally. We all have 24 hours in a day. But what we choose to do with our time is the hard part. I think too often we set priorities that do not honor what we truly want. So it is important to make time for savasana, make time to talk to a friend, make time to get out in nature and make time to nurture yourself.

  • Samantha Gregory

    Oh my goodness, did you ever hit the nail on the head! Time is a man made commodity that is used as a source of measurement. Now, why i feel so restricted by it? i have no idea! I also arbitrarily schedule myself into things i ‘should’ be doing. By creating those restrictions on myself i usually boycott my own rules and do LESS then what i would have done if i just went about my day doing whatever. So, what is the lesson i have learned from this short little tidbit of information? The only time i have is NOW. I need to enjoy now, because i wont get another opportunity to live this moment. I’m feeling more liberated just typing this!

  • It is quite liberating! Glad this was helpful to you. =)

  • This is a great blog post! Thanks for sharing with us.

    It’s so easy to put time constraints on ourselves even if they’re small or something bigger like thinking you should have achieved something be-time you reach a certain age. Your post has reminded me to take a step back and live in the moment rather than fretting over time.

    Thanks again. =)

    ps. There’s so much wisdom on this site!