Monday, February 7, 2011

Experiencing Life As A Dream

Sister Jo and I began our sojourn two months ago. It feels like many more months than that, which got me to thinking. I’ve always known that one’s sense of the passage of time is relative to the experiences within the timeframe being referenced. There’s a very valid reason for the phenomenon.
Back in the 1970’s researchers at either the University of Michigan or Michigan State University did a long term study on time perception. They found that there is both “real” time and “mind” time.
Time Differences
The researchers found profound differences between the two types of time.
“Real” time was defined as the passage of time as recorded by a clock. Such time is a man-made measurement of experience. It’s also considered a measurement related to distance, but still a measurement.
“Mind” time was defined as a person’s individual experiential perception. Each person perceives the passage of time differently according to how fast their mind processes information, as well as the emotional investment used during the experience.
Apparently the research was prompted by someone asking why a person can experience hours or days of time passage within the body of a dream. The brain processes information in nanoseconds, which is infinitely faster than clock time. The researchers decided to look for the truth.
The Experiment
The basic experiment was a simple one. Find subjects who’d always wanted to learn to do one thing specifically—compose music, learn a foreign language, etc. Once the subjects were located [all were mature adults], each one was hypnotized for their instruction.
Example: [Not taken from actual study] During hypnosis a subject—let’s say a civil servant--is told that he’s been given two years to learn how to write music, which he’s always dreamed about. He can stay in his room and learn for that two years. He will be provided with everything he needs to learn. All he has to do was ask.
He’s told that someone will come to tell him when his time is up. He’s left to his own devices to use the resources provided to learn his new field. Whatever he asks for, he receives. He spends his time working on a computer, playing with instruments, and learning.
The Results
Are you concerned? Don’t be. The amount of time he’s in the room, as measured in “real” time, is only a few hours.
The result astounds the researchers. Not only can the man compose music but beautiful music and is ecstatic with the results of his new education. He’s also told that only a few hours have passed since he began.
The ultimate reality is that “mind” time runs and processes information incredibly fast. Learning under this process of mind usage is excellent, takes little “real” time, and has lasting effects. (When rechecked several months later, our civil servant is happily writing music for publication.)
Personal Appreciation of “Mind” Time
You might ask what this has to do with anything. Why is it important? It’s important for a couple of reasons.
When I said that our time on the road seemed to have lasted many months, I meant it literally. It seemed as if the calendar should be pushing toward May instead of February.
The reason for that perception is the number of experiences during that near eight weeks on the road. We’d covered 18 states in that “real” time. Within each of those states were individual experiences that had made an impact on our memories, either good or bad. That’s a mighty load of memories in so short a timeframe.
We’d taken a few notes here and there about most of the major experiences, but not the entirety of the road experience. My poor fingers would never have been still if that was the case. Whether I preferred it or not, my poor old mind had to carry the brunt of the load in memory form with scanty notations along the way.
The good thing about experiential memory is that it doesn’t escape when there are two of us on the drive. Each of us have a slightly different perspective, but that’s why it works so well. We can fill in details better that way. We can use her visuals and my audios. It’s according to who was paying the most attention at the time.
Also, have you ever had one of the days when you’ve worked and worked, gotten tons completed, and then looked at the clock only to see that only a couple of hours have passed? That, my friend, is “mind” time in action. Enjoy it while you have it. It usually accompanies those days when clock time seems to drag along and it seems that the day will never be over. Ever have one of those?
If not, I’m sorry. I used to groan each time until I realized how much I could get written during “MIND TIME.” It’s my writer’s best friend come to call.
I can use it for marketing research, which always seems to take forever. I can use it to draw out a plot or rough out an essay. It’s lovely for poetry. I relish those days now.
Take a minute and think about whether you’re using your mind time to its best advantage. Until we talk again,


  1. That's really interesting Claudsy! I think I use clock time while at work and mind time when I'm writing. However, when I'm writing, the clock time goes so much faster then my mind time. My mind time is so into it that it seems as though only 1 hours has passed, however the clock tells me its been 4 hours!!

    But this was really an interesting article. I enjoyed reading it. And the clock says it only took me a few minutes!

  2. Thanks, Allyn. For me, I never kknow when mind time will kick in and take over. I'm always surprised. I do like it when it happens, though.

    I just wish I could control shen it happened. Then I might get some real work done and more of it.