Contaminated Time

[ theme music rises ]

I’m constantly amazed at the way good questions lead us so naturally to good answers, and how beautiful questions can lead to even better questions. When we open ourselves to the things we don’t know, we open the doors to wonder and discovery and to greater understanding.

I’m Scott Lennox and you’re listening to The Beautiful Question, a weekly consideration of things that matter every day.

[ brief pause ]

After taking a recent and much-needed step away from my weekly busyness, I’ve been pondering the issue of how we use and often misuse time.

Join me this week as we consider ways of making the best of the time we have. Surely you have time enough for that!

[ brief pause as music fades and clock ticking begins ]


Photo: TeamOne


We have twenty-four hours in each day. That’s it. One thousand four hundred and forty minutes. Not a second more. Not a second less. Yet how often, without being intentional about it, we contaminate parts of that twenty-four hours with what’s been referred to as “activity overlap.” Call it “multi-tasking” if you like, but nobody truly multi-tasks. It’s a cultural myth. We may go quickly back and forth and back and forth through a series of things, but even then, we’re focused on one thing at a time, the same way a juggler rapidly focuses on the objects she has moving through the air, one at a time.

To deepen our consideration this week, let’s look at some of the ways we contaminate our time.

[ brief pause as clock ticking fades ]

Imagine that after being busy all morning, you just sat down to relax and catch your breath for a while. No sooner have you settled when you tell yourself that you’re just going check your emails and perhaps answer a couple of them and then delete some old ones.

After that, you remember that you were going to order something online, and you spend some time chasing up and down the rabbit trails the internet’s algorithms have silently laid out for you based on your search history. They hooked your attention and you unconsciously fell for it.

After placing your order, you answer a couple of text messages and send several more. The next thing you know, more than half an hour has gone by and you haven’t relaxed at all. Not even close. You’ve been too busy crowding out the peace and stillness you wanted with a raft of other things.

You didn’t mean to contaminate the time you set aside to relax with things that could just as easily have waited, but in fairness, you didn’t mean not to. Each of those things robbed you of moments you can’t get back. But you’re far from alone in that. We live in an age of malignant busy-ness and almost constant movement and restlessness and urgency, often setting little traps for our own welfare in the name of… well… what?

Efficiency? Productivity? Keeping up with others? Feeling not good enough? The fear of missing out? Some silent script in our head? How about someone else’s expectations?


[ brief pause ]

But, now let’s hit the pause button and go back and re-imagine that same relaxing moment. In fact, let’s completely decontaminate that moment. It’ll far be easier than you think.

[ brief pause ]

Once again, you’ve been busy all morning and you decide to stop what you’ve been doing and take a few moments to be with yourself—a few moments to rest and restore and recharge as you do nothing at all. To make that easier, and far more possible, you turn off or mute or put away your electronic devices—all at the same time. I know, frightening, right?! Unlike last time, you allow yourself all the time you need to focus only on your slow and steady relaxed breath as you give yourself complete permission to let your mind drift and wander and eventually slow down.

You don’t need to analyze the random thoughts that arise. You don’t have to find out where they came from. You don’t need to know what they mean or why you’re thinking them. You needn’t concern yourself with the fact that they’re showing up. In fact, you don’t even have to pay attention to them.

Instead, you wisely allow yourself to watch them going by like traffic on a roadway or like waves on the ocean or like leaves floating down a quietly moving stream. Eventually, you won’t notice them at all. There’s no reason to. They’re just thoughts.

As you bring yourself back into the moment and give yourself the gift of physical and mental stillness, your mind and body and emotions quietly come back into alignment. You can actually feel yourself relaxing and letting go. You notice it and then you even let that go.

Later, when you choose to return to the things you need or want to do, you’ll get far more accomplished, and you’ll be calmer and more relaxed in the process.

Since you already know that no one else can give it to you, you might think of your time in stillness as the self-bestowed gift of refueling and recharging and restoring, and of unplugging from the rest of the world in a healthy way.

[ brief pause ]

So, as a kind of game this week, it might be interesting to notice the things you engage in that aren’t really necessary or that tug at your attention, silently robbing you of your peace of mind. For example, how many things distract you? How much time do you spend mindlessly searching the web, flipping from page to page or site to site, not really paying attention or noticing your moments draining away?

If that’s what you want to do, I’m not judging it. But I question the ways that interferes with the peace of mind you’ve told yourself you want.

As an alternative, it might be interesting to choose a part of your day—say, ten or fifteen minutes at least—to set everything else aside, including your devices and the thoughts that pull at your awareness. As you consciously allow yourself to stay present in the moment, notice what happens physically, mentally, and emotionally. As you watch from a loving and non-judgmental place, your body relaxes, your mind becomes freer and a bit clearer, and you settle emotionally, releasing everything outside yourself.

Then, when that moment feels complete, quietly notice what’s different. You might just be surprised.

[ brief pause as music fades]

This week’s Beautiful Questions are offered to help you decontaminate your moments and get more out of them. As your answers arise, write and tell me about them. I’ll make time to listen.

Question One: What unnecessary things have you regularly been doing that contaminate or overlap your daily moments, robbing you of time you could have spent more mindfully?

Question Two: In what ways might you choose to keep that from happening?

Question Three: What will most likely change as you honor yourself and honor the time you’ve been given?

[ brief pause ]

I’ll be intrigued to hear your answers and the healthy changes you’ll be making in your well-spent moments. Write and tell me about them.

As I say each week,
My Light with Your Light!

[ theme music & sign-off ]

As always, I’m glad we can engage this way every week as we consider some of the things that matter and what to do about them. If nothing else, I hope you feel inspired to look more deeply at ways of caring for yourself. You deserve that.

You can be further inspired by visiting my friends at Kosmos Journal. That’s K O S M O S Journal. Their mission is to inform, inspire, and engage global transformation in harmony with all life. You can easily find them online at Kosmos Journal dot O R G.

And each week at, you can read the illustrated transcript of each podcast as you listen. We’ve also included an archive of all previous podcasts, including guided relaxation audios that can help you practice letting go on a daily basis.

If you find these podcasts useful, I encourage you to share them and tell others about them. That’s a great way of helping me get a voice of calm and collaboration and balance and encouragement out into the world.

[ brief pause ]

I’m Scott Lennox, and this has been The Beautiful Question.

[ brief pause ]

The Beautiful Question is a One Light production, written, produced, and engineered by Scott Lennox at HeartRock Studios in Fort Worth, Texas, as a way of paying forward to life, being fully present, becoming better engaged with things that truly matter in a complex world, and committing to a healthier future for all of us.

[ theme music swells and fades ]

[ end ]

Subscribe to our newsletter for updates.