In my years of meditation practice, I have both experienced time contracting (appearing to pass at great speed) or dilating and seeming to come to a near standstill.

I begin my meditation practice by relaxing and following the breath. As this settles, respiration becomes very slow. During this slowing of breath, the awareness of the heartbeat becomes more prominent, and it also appears to slow down to where the heart's contraction seems to occur in slow motion. I can feel/witness the contraction and sense (or imagine I am sensing) the opening and closing of heart valves. There is no striving or effort to do this, it is occurring along with the awareness of the rest of the body.

What I find unusual and have not been able to explain is that I am wearing an iWatch during this to record my mediation, and it shows that during these super relaxed periods when I am consciousness and experiencing a slowing of time and heartbeat, the iWatch is measuring an increase in heart rate! The HRV can get rather wonky and large as well.

This perception of space and time becoming distorted (I meditate mostly with eyes open) seems to occur more often the more I practice. After deep retreats, the phenomena can lead to strange occurrences around feeling or seeing future and past events as converging or simultaneously occurring.

This recent article https://boingboing.net/2022/08/17/is-precognition-real.html aligns with what I have experienced about these time distortions. The characteristics and phenomena that enhance precognition seem to relate to deep meditative practice.

What have you experienced in your practice around time and space distortion, and has this led to any precognition experiences, as mentioned in this article?

What does the Buddhist philosophy in different traditions say about time itself?

Does time exist? If so, how do we experientially know this? There appears just to be a never-ending change of state. Here and now seems always to be here and now, although how spacious that here and now "feels" does change.


5 Answers 5


In Theravada terms, time and space refer to the fetter known as 'aruparaga'. It is the 7th fetter, which has been built over many decades of exposure to the world culture regarding all formless concepts - time, space, borders and ideas about 'other worlds' traditionally referenced as an attachment to the formless realms. However, in its fundaments, it refers to the most intimate, and direct experience - the domesticated reality of the six-sense experience - rather than ideas about 'other beings' in another plane of reality.

This fetter can break permanently in one single swoop, or, as in the case of your meditation session, it can break in fragments. The fragmentation method is the most common, as it is a belief structure that has been worked into the psyche over a long period of time, but that 'time' is a creation of itself and thus holds itself captive through cause and effect, which takes 'time'. As such, the experience of time is merely a belief imposed upon you by the collective. More importantly, it is a belief that can be seen through and eradicated along with other formless beliefs like the experience that one 'thinks' there is a border between the inner subjective world and the outer objective world.

What you therefore term 'consciousness' is typically known in Theravada as the six-sense consciousnesses: eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body and mind - and these are the primary components that allow something of a conditioned experience to take place alongside something called an 'external world'; the external world and the subjective reflection of that world both arise together. Within that conditioned experience, one cognizes the passage of time.

Now, here's the question which attempts to reason with your enquiry... from where does my awareness occur if not at the six-sense doors? I've never been able to answer that question simply because I don't see there to be a relationship between what one might call 'form' and what one might call 'consciousness', let me try to explain...

The six-sense experience and consciousness could be said to be the same thing, (I didn't enjoy writing that part, but anyway!) and therefore what the sense organs perceive are also not considered relatable objects. When there is somebody there that lays claim to the six sense organs, perceptions arise and then a world with all its relatable objects. There are no relationships, but only the appearance of manifold objects seemingly complementing each other. Does the flower have a relationship with the sun? Not at all. They both simply work in unison as a single unit and the onlooker who admires the sun shining upon the flower is the same unifying phenomena somehow cognizing itself. There was never any disconnect, therefore nothing needed to be re-connected. This is a way of writing about Sunyata or emptiness. The idea of being disconnected or separate is a belief we hold in the mind. Interestingly, the idea that we are seperate is also one of the manifold ways in which this fundamental connection gives an expression of itself, but that condition is rather a pain in the arse, which forced me to discover the bigger picture.

In terms of resources, one might think of Indras net, where every dew drop in the net reflects every other dew drop. I think some sub-cultures of the Mahayana schools played around with the Idra's Net concept. There isn't a relationship happening there, anything considered in a relatable sense is imparted in the form of language, stories and those kinds of whatnots - that is when form comes into being, through the belief in language. This is not to say we must walk around in some stupefied Zen state; No. Language has a very simple functional role, and that's about it.

In summary, what I'm describing is the neurotic tendencies of the mind, which keep one running around in maddening circles... like a clown on a unicycle.

The fetter model is largely dynamic for most people, so one can begin to break higher fetters while some lower fetters remain intact.

Good luck, my friend!

  • Thank you, Max. This is extremely helpful! And I must say, your description of this is right on point. I have not heard of the fetter model before and I will look into it. Do you have a resource you recommend? > I don't see there to be a relationship between what one might call 'form' and what one might call 'consciousness'. Commented Aug 27, 2022 at 7:02
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    @Christopher Sunyata - I'm largely drawing upon my own vocabulary in a poor attempt to describe a non-experience, but where that points is actually outside of the vocabulary; outside of sentences & words, and thus the dualitues they create. Incidentally, it is also around the 6-7 fetter where the reality of words loose their solidity, as these too are largely formless concepts. However, I will try to update the answer to include a resource regarding form and consciousness.
    – user17652
    Commented Aug 28, 2022 at 8:37
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    @Chistopher Sunyata - updated to address the form/consciousness query. I see you haven't been around long - have you tried up-voting or down-voting answers, yet? You can also accept an answer as being the correct one: See here
    – user17652
    Commented Aug 29, 2022 at 7:53

All six dhātus (elements) aren't real, lasting, a refuge, good householder. Earth, water, wind, fire, "time/space", consciousness, are subject to change, decay and not for sure. Not reallt possible to control, regard it as own.

One seeing that clear, having found refuge into the Gems, is headed for beyond, cut off of ways down.

But good, how ever, to penetrate form first, as one easy get's lost in time and space while consuming on sensuality, using off precious possibilities, space and time, seldom to arise for one. Time and space, possibility, conditions are running out fast.


Does consciousness, or wakefulness, have any relationship to space or time?

Space and time are concepts. They don't exist in an ultimate sense making the question unanswerable.

I think the basis of the question is wrong due to time and space being concepts. Instead one should be mindful of the thinking process when reflecting on such questions. Diving deeper into concepts is not beneficial or useful.


No, to reach the oneness state, time, space are distractions.


My master, my teacher is Lord Buddha and I follow Dhamma which Buddha preached and asked us to follow. If we want to completely remove ego and be free from rebirth.

He asked us not to waste our time by experimenting or searching some words like time, space, galaxy, universal stars etc.

While we are meditating we are facing these kind of questions then we keep our main purpose aside and going after the question. That is where we need to have "sathi"[ keep the mind or consciousness on one purpose.

In your question I feel while meditating you raised with the question. Then you kept aside your main targeted meditation quote or concept you now going with your question about the relationship with the consciousness and time space which is completely away from your targeted aim. This process avoiding your consciousness upgrading to the next level.

Let the body have all these changes leave it then and there. Concentrate directly to your meditaion quote or the target. One's One Bikku followed "Anapana Sathi meditation" and attained to "Sothapaththi Pala" The First State of mind asked lord Buddha what he should do next. Lord Buddha advice the monk to do the same again and again until he attain Nibbana.

The stage where you wer is nearing the understanding or the awareness of matters. knowledge of body organs and it's structure. But because of you take the mind away and start searching something else your concentration to the point was broken.

Once you realize that the mind takes another purpose you need to bring it back and reinstate to the point. This is very natural and that is where we need "Sathi" mindfulness or awareness to bring back and reinstate the mind to the meditaion point.

Further instructions read this article carefully: SathiPattana Lord Buddha Words. It will clear your question.

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