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Unusual Experiences, Philosophy,Hinduism, Buddhism, Reincarnation
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Just as our brains limit our ability to perceive other dimensions and the inter-connectivity of our universe, our brains also influence our perception of time. For example, we may have a dream that seemed to last hours, and indeed would have needed hours for all of the events to have occurred. However, we know from dream studies and our own experiences that such dreams can take place in a matter of minutes. This is similar to future memory (ie, during a time period that only lasts a few minutes, the person "remembers" future events that take significantly longer when they actually transpire).

Our internal sense of the passage of time can also vary when awake. In general, the busier and older we are, the faster time appears to go by. People who are highly emotional can experience an even broader variation. Similar to dreaming, heightened emotions cause an increase in our limbic system's activity, altering our perception of time.

Time perception also is altered when we come close to death. Diane Hennacy Powell, M.D. writes:

"I directly observed this (ie, perception of time being different) when I almost drowned at the age of thirteen in a canoe accident. The passage of time seemed to slow down shortly after I stopped struggling against the river's current and resigned myself to dying. At the same time my entire life passed rapidly through my mind."(a)

The same experience has been described by many others who have survived a near-fatal accident. What's intriguing about the phenomenon of a life review is that it appears to be a function of how our brains are wired. It was accidentally induced in several patients during brain surgery in the 1930s when a part of their limbic system, the hypothalamus, was stimulated by electrodes.

Intense fear can make the brain think at superspeed, in contrast with what happens externally. The contrast may be why external events appear to slow down. Charles Darwin experienced the following when he was on one of his solitary walks as a child. He often was so absorbed in thought that he didn't pay close attention to where he was going:

"I walked off and fell to the ground ...... the height was only seven or eight feet. Nevertheless, the number of thoughts which passed through my mind during this very short, but sudden and wholley unexpected fall, was astonishing and seemed hardly compatible with what physiologists have, I believe, proved about each thought requiring quite an appreciable amount of time."(b)

The heightened activity of the limbic system and its effects on the perception of time can also be seen in bipolar disorder, which was formerly called manic-depressive illness. In bipolar disorder one's moods can go to extremes, both up and down. During the manic or up phase, one's thinking is usually sped up. One's speech is often pressured and thoughts can come so fast that speech can't keep up. When this happens, one may sound like a sped-up record that skips over words or larger sections of dialog. Sometimes the manic person doesn't see himself as sped-up, but rather complains that everyone else is slowed down. Depressed people can display the opposite. They often think, talk and move more slowly, while perceiving everything around them as happening too fast.

A theory about our perception of time was presented by Itzhak Bentov, a biomedical engineer turned cosmologist, in "Stalking the Wild Pendulum: On the Mechanics of Consciousness." He described two types of time and space - objective and subjective. Objective time and space are what we measure. We are generally in sync with others because of a consensus about objective time and space. Subjective time and space are products of our unconscious mind and are capable of expansion and contraction. This is why time is experienced so differently in dreams, which occur in the unconscious.

When our conscious and unconscious minds are in communication with each other, this can include a changed perception of time. Increased communication with the unconscious during mystical states leads to what Bentov calls "convergence." The mind appears to be everywhere all at once. In other words, our personal consciousness appears to fill the entire universe instantaneously. Sleep deprivation can put us into this state, which was described by Charles Lindbergh after his twenty-second hour of vigilance at the controls of "The Spirit of St. Louis." His description makes it sound dangerous to fly planes during convergence, but Lindbergh's journey was successful.

"There is no limit to my sight - my skull is one great eye, seeing everywhere at once ...... I'm not conscious of time's direction ..... All sense of substance leaves, there is no longer weight to my body, no longer hardness to the stick. The feeling of flesh is gone ..... I live in the past, present and future, here and in different places all at once .... I'm flying in a plane over the Atlantic Ocean, but I am also living in the years now far away.."(c)

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(a) The ESP Enigma: The Scientific Case for Psychic Phenomena by Diane Hennacy Powell, M.D. [Chapter 11 - The Essence of Time]

(b) The Autobiography of Charles Darwin, Francis Darwin, ed. (New York: Dover, 1958), 8-9.

(c) Charles Lindbergh, The Spirit of St, Louis (New York: Scribner's 1995), 389-91.
Yes, time is a very strange thing. To me its a very weird concept. I used to think nothing of time, i mean, you can't change it so why bother thinking about it?

As I'm getting older i just worry that time will slip by and before I know it, its all over!

I wish I had some plutonium and a flux capacitor.......
Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in awhile, you could miss it.


I wonder if the perception of time would exist in the absence of thought/thinking - that it is a construct of the mind.
Are we perpetuating the perception of time simply by thinking?

Very interesting post - thank you Rey.
Good observation Heidi,
I also think that there are more than one levels of thought. Verbal thought is linear and takes time. Just as it takes time to speak at a given pace, so verbal thoughts take a certain (but variable) amount of time to come to our awareness.
What I notice myself is that, before words are formed, there is awareness and there can be concepts and even complete images I am instantly aware of. Think 'mountain' and, chances are you will see one in your mind's eye even before the word mountain or a specific name comes to mind, whether it be the Alps, the Himalaya, Mt. Fuji or Mt. Rainier etc.
At that level 'pre-verbal' concepts can hit fast and hard making it very difficult to keep up and put them into words. Perhaps this alo accounts for some of the problems NDErs face when trying to put these concepts into words. A flash of vision could take many pages to describe, and that is just its 'physical' aspect. With visions and lucid dreams and especially NDes there are almost always more layers of meaning, like the skins of an onion, which can take years to re-discover.
Interesting angle DennisMe.

I went out with a Frenchman for a few years when I was a teenager years ago. He could not speak a word of English and my French language skills were barely adequate at the time. What was interesting was that we were able to understand each other perfectly. Many times it was like he and I could foresee what the other wanted to communicate and we could have simply uttered sounds and still been able to understand each other. There was a non verbal understanding going on which, today, I shake my head wondering how this was even possible.
"A perceptual experience is a photograph of a moving reality." Chopra
"We are just points of attention within one infinite conscious." Icke
DennisMe wrote: Good observation Heidi,
I also think that there are more than one levels of thought. Verbal thought is linear and takes time. Just as it takes time to speak at a given pace, so verbal thoughts take a certain (but variable) amount of time to come to our awareness.
What I notice myself is that, before words are formed, there is awareness and there can be concepts and even complete images I am instantly aware of. Think 'mountain' and, chances are you will see one in your mind's eye even before the word mountain or a specific name comes to mind, whether it be the Alps, the Himalaya, Mt. Fuji or Mt. Rainier etc.
At that level 'pre-verbal' concepts can hit fast and hard making it very difficult to keep up and put them into words. Perhaps this alo accounts for some of the problems NDErs face when trying to put these concepts into words. A flash of vision could take many pages to describe, and that is just its 'physical' aspect. With visions and lucid dreams and especially NDes there are almost always more layers of meaning, like the skins of an onion, which can take years to re-discover.


I have noticed that too! It's fascinating, isn't, how these images and concepts exist without words, just before the words to describe them appear in the mind. I always try to capture these mini-moments, slow them down or something, to be able to look at them more closely - but had no success so far :D

I have also wondered whether this is how animals think - after all, they don't have any knowledge of words, yet clearly they form thoughts and intentions that leads them to act and react. They must be living in this pre-verbal space all the time. What do you think?
Thanks for bringing up this topic, Rey.

I have an experience to report about the perception of time, which dates back to 23 May, 2008.

I need to add beforehand that I had gone to bed the previous night knowing that I had to translate 14 pages by 7 a.m. the next morning, which - in ordinary waking reality - involved waking up at least 4/5 hours earlier than my deadline. But there was so much more on my mind, in practical terms, including the fact that I had almost burnt my car engine due to a cooling water leak, just a few hours earlier, having been unable to collect my son from his Ju-Jitsu lesson while frantically seeking help on the road at a time (7.00 p.m.) when all shops and workshops were closing down, and other problems, that the translation had really lost its usual sense of priority.

Anyway, I was in a twilight state of consciousness around 4:30 in the morning, when I started experiencing this lucid awareness of being both IN my ordinary TIME and OUT OF TIME at the same time. It would have been almost maddening for me to think about it in an ordinary state of consciousness, only an hour earlier, but here I could hold both notions in my mind at the same time with no effort, and not need to shift from one to the other. Things (anything I set out to achieve) were both YET TO HAPPEN and HAD ALREADY HAPPENED. The reason I did not need to shift from one perspective to the other was because both were true for me at the same time. I lingered in this amazing state of consciousness for quite a while, focusing on various situations and realising that, whatever my goal may be, NO EFFORT was required to attain it, because in the Bigger Time I was immersed in, it HAD ALREADY HAPPENED. Even my 14 pages, the thought of which would have normally caused me to jump out of bed in a state of panic..., they had already been translated with the best possible outcome.

This amazing state of awareness was followed by a dream about very positive things happening, practical things which I could see and examine in great detail, all of them suggesting how important it was to learn and implement the secret I had just found out about.

The feelings that followed on that very challenging morning, and which continued to be powerfully within me for quite a while over the following days, were that the Big Time in which my goals had already been achieved could be accessed at any time, a great sense of relaxation and taking it easy, because no mental effort or struggle was required to achieve things that have already happened, and a renewed wave of LIVING ENERGY coming from the awareness that, once a goal, no matter how farfetched, had been set, it had already manifested in the Big Time, and this small time was only there to give me the notion of achievement.

This was my greatest breakthrough since I had started challenging linear time. I had already experienced a few months earlier the feeling of time slowing down when I was engaged in pleasant activities (which is more or less the opposite of what normally happened to me), but now, with this straightforward, direct experience, I felt I had found a tremendously powerful tool to achieve anything.

Needless to say, my translation that morning did not involve panicky situations. I spoke to my translation agency around 8.30 a.m. and they unexpectedly said that the deadline was not as strict as they had previously thought. So I got my work finished in time for them to see to the editing in the afternoon.

Several years have gone by since 2008, and I must admit it has been very refreshing for me to re-read this report and re-live the excitement I felt about it for quite a long time before it started wearing off.

I had personally experienced how magnificent our creative power is, and for quite a long while after that experience it had been enough for me to click back into THAT awareness, when I set a goal, to KNOW that it had already been achieved. This had caused me to realise that it was extremely important for me to set goals, if I was in a dynamic creative mood, and allow my own power to lead me. I still felt that contemplative states of mind were just as valuable, as long as that was the way I wished to feel, but setting goals seemed to be one of those key skills I had come to learn about in the Here and Now, and now that I had found out, I really wished to make the most of it.

In no way did I feel that this involved that I did not have free will. It was just a plain knowing that, in the Big Time (as I called it at the time), once a goal is set, the outcome is already there, and no struggle is required.

A completely different type of experience occurred to me during a car accident in 1986, when the driver fell asleep and I hit the windscreen with my head: on that occasion, I saw the glass shatter in slow motion. I was reminded of that about 20 years ago, when my husband told me about a NDE-like experience he had had in his early 30s, when his parachute would not work and he started seeing pictures of his life as a child appearing before him as on a roll of film, just as it had happened under similar circumstances when he risked drowning as a kid. Time seemed to stop, even though he was dropping down from the aircraft at tremendous speed: he had all the "time" to think, see people and the ambulance rushing towards the point he was to hit, and then pull the rope for the emergency parachute. Another example of how time can be flexible in the way we perceive it.
Hello from Italy - How I found out about NDERF - A Strange Experience
Martina, yes I suppose animals would 'think' like this and react directly to the images they see in their minds. Perhaps they are even capable of sharing such images among themselves. I've seen groups of animals display some pretty complex coordinated behavior. without any obvious 'discussion' in advance... The hard part is investigating these kinds of animal psychology questions. I have noticed a trend in animal psychology though where scientists are regularly bumping up their assessments of animal intelligence as our tests get better and the bad assumptions underlying the old tests are uncovered...
Totally off topic :::

Understanding the perception of time requires having your innards ripped out of you and then put back together and told your going to be fine

JUST LAY here and watch the clock for a few weeks and you will be fine......

You really start to understand the "Perception Of Time "
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