Is it Possible to Live in the Now?

Is it Possible to Live in the Now?

In This Article

Neurons and You

A message on a telegraph wire in the 1800s could travel some 790 miles from Chicago to New York in just .25 of a second – which is a whopping 11 million miles per hour. (1) One might assume that the human nervous system would transport information way faster than some dusty old telegraph wire… but we all know what assumptions make us!

The nerves in our body actually travel at speeds as slow as 1 mile per hour and as fast as 268 miles per hour – yes, that’s it. Pain travels particularly slow, at a speed of just 1.3 miles per hour, and our dopamine reward response is also one of the slower nerve responses in the body. Perhaps this is because we do not have 700 mile-long bodies and we simply do not need super-fast neurons blasting through our inner space.

What if we could speed up these neurons? I mean… only 1 mile per hour?! Can’t we do better than that?

Let’s take the sense of sight for example. It takes about a quarter of a second for our brain to register an apple sitting on a table – about the same amount of time a telegraph went 790 miles.

So if it takes .25 seconds for the brain to register that we are looking at an apple on a table, the apple we are seeing actually already happened about a .25 of a second ago in the past. It also takes about ¼ of a second for us to feel the apple that we may have just picked up from the table.

From this perspective, we actually live in the past. Everything we see, taste, smell, touch and hear has already happened. Even though it only happened a quarter of a second ago – it is still in the past.

In fact, anything we do that requires us to have a thought or engage our brain will involve the firing of neurons that takes time – leaving us in the dust – living in the past.

What if we could actually live in the NOW?

To live or experience real time, in the “now” or in the present would require us to not think thoughts or use our senses because all of our thoughts and senses require neurons to fire. There is one sense, however, that delivers sensory information to the brain 5-10 times faster than the other senses and gets us closer to experiencing our world in real time. It is the sense of hearing. Instead of transporting information to the brain in ¼ or .25 of a second, the sense of hearing can do it in .05 seconds – 5 times faster than the other senses. (2)

In cases of fight-or-flight, humans have what is called a “Startle Response,” which processes sound in a whopping .025 seconds – which is 10 times faster than the other senses. A loud startling sound can directly trigger neurons in the spinal cord to release adrenaline so that you can flee up a tree, bypassing the brain, in order to trigger a time-saving motor response to potentially save your life. (1,2)

It makes sense that we evolved to hear in an instant in order to flee from danger in the dark of night when our other senses were less helpful. This may also explain why music, dance, chanting and singing have played such an important part of our evolutionary history, religions, spiritual practices and cultural sources of rest, relaxation and joy. Today, music therapy has become an effective tool for increased learning, cognition, stress reduction, communication, executive thinking and transformational support for those with learning disabilities and autism. (3)

Researchers at Advanced Brain Technologies have created music and sound therapy programs to help boost brain efficiency, such as listening to specific melodies that have shown to help the brain settle in closer to real time.

What would happen if we lived in Real Time?

Seth Horowitz, an Advanced Brain Technologies researcher, suggests that the only way we can actually experience life in real time and stop living in the past is by accessing the unconscious mind. That means getting beyond or beneath our thoughts. (1) Thoughts, what we see, taste, touch and smell and hear to a lesser extent take time, about a quarter of a second to process – which results in us living life slightly delayed or in the past. The reality is that everything we experience in life has already happened.

The ramifications of this make for great dinner conversations. For example, if I take a sip of wine, the reality is that it actually happened about a quarter of a second ago. If I decide not to take a sip of wine, that also happened about a quarter of a second ago. So, if everything I perceive has already happened, I am living in the past, which means if I am trying to control my life, destiny or those around me, it is a little hard to do if everything I am trying to control has already happened – as it would always be too late.

At the very least, realizing that we are living in the past may be one good reason to stop trying to control the people, events and the world around you – because as soon as you are aware of what you are trying to control or fix – it has already passed you by.

Dipping the Mind in the Dye of Real Time

The science is pretty clear that if we can experience life without thought or through our senses, then we would be living in real time. This idea of transcending thought and going beyond the senses is by no means a modern concept. Prayer and meditation are well-established techniques that claim to do just that.


A deep meditation or prayer is defined by a dramatic slowing of brain waves from waking beta brain waves to alpha and theta waves that signify a deep relaxation meditative state. (4) Sleep also delivers a deep relaxation state but, during sleep, the brain produces predominately theta brain waves rather than the alpha and theta seen in a meditative state. (5)

Sleep, no doubt, offers us a very sophisticated requirement for rest that takes the mind closer to real time, but in each of the 4 stages of sleep and during REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, there are either thoughts or dreams associated with each stage – suggesting that brain neurons are engaged and, thus, we are not actually in real time. (6)

Meditation is defined by a unique set of brain waves not seen in other states of consciousness such as waking or sleeping. (4,5) This suggests that meditation and/or prayer may offer us something closer to real time, as the subjective experience of a deep meditative state is defined by the lack of thoughts and a type of sensory deprivation where one’s awareness is beyond thought and feeling.

To back up our need and desire to get closer to living in real time are our love for music and our need for sleep, both of which slow down our brain waves.

There is an overwhelming amount of science that supports the health and longevity benefits of meditation. In numerous studies, meditation has been shown to decrease cellular aging, extend life, reduce stress, reduce the risk of diabetes, heart disease and lengthen telomeres, which are the chromosomal caps that measure the aging and degenerative process… to name just a few! (7)

Try Real Time Out

I invite you to try my One Minute Meditation practice to quickly let go of many of your unnecessary thoughts. It is very simple, anyone can do it, it only takes a minute and it is free. Here’s how:

  1. Simply sit comfortably in a chair with your eyes closed.
  2. Take 30 deep bellow-like breaths in and out through the nose. This will take about 30 seconds.
  3. As long as you do not get dizzy, try to make each bellows-like nose breath as deep and as fast as possible.
  4. After 30 seconds of this, stop the deep breathing. Keep the eyes closed and be perfectly still for the next 30 seconds.
  5. After about 30 seconds, slowly open your eyes and you will most likely realize that, during that 30 seconds, there were a few spells of no thoughts! Welcome to real time.

Now, it’s time to train the brain to do this regularly… and reap some amazing benefits!

To be sure you are doing this correctly, watch my free video on the One Minute Meditation as part of my Transformational Awareness Technique Meditation eCourse.

Enjoy the first two lessons of my Transformational Awareness Meditation eCourse for free… taste real time and practice living in the now!



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Dr. John

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