One day, I took the day off work to experiment on myself and it ended up working even better than I expected. I liked it so much, I've now done this multiple times and plan to do it again. The purpose was to *induce a prolonged state of time dilation* by only allowing myself to engage in specific kinds of activities for the entire working day and only in a specific kind of environment. ^c26c92 ![]( I am someone who suffers from ADHD. And I mean that. I don't just have it. I suffer from it. I work as a project manager in the Silicon Valley. And every day is a struggle to battle with my own mind in order to do my job well. I have tried everything under the sun to combat it ranging from full on denial to medication and accommodations. While I am only here to tell my story, I can attest that when I do time dilation, my mood becomes more stable. My mind is sharper. My thoughts are clearer. I become less impulsive. When I first tried this, the following day was back at work and I felt like I was going into meetings with a new brain. The parts of my cognition that felt laborious to use were still there but felt like they were massaged and relaxed, able to operate at a capacity I didn't know was possible. > [!info] What is time dilation? > Dilating time is nothing more than a natural psychological phenomenon where your perception of time passing is either slower or faster than it actually is. I use the term here to mean the latter: What feels like an hour was only five minutes. And so on. Most of us have experienced time dilation under unpleasant circumstances, like being bored with nothing to do. Usually it works against our interest. At a boring job, the hours seem to drag on. When we're having fun, as the saying goes, time flies. So in planning to do this "inattentive day," there was a challenge to reaping the benefits of this while also making it pleasant. # Preparing Planning and preparing to kind of do nothing is harder than it sounds because there is a difference between *solitude* an *solitary confinement*. Not only should this experience not feel like punishment, it should just feel wonderful at the end of the day. The key is to stick to "inattentive" activities that prevent as much as possible any pull on your attention span. To keep it simple, I use a litmus test to determine if an activity qualifies as inattentive: > [!question] Litmus Test for Inattentiveness: Can I read at the same time? I can sit and have lunch while reading. I can even hike in the woods provided I keep a steady pace on a simple trail and occasionally monitor what's around me. I would even say swimming counts because the test is about what you can do with your mind. If text somehow printed in front of me, I could read it in the pool. This also answered the question for me of whether I should allow for music: It depends on the music. Inattentive is not a synonym for "good" or "healthy." They are just activities which keep your attention span on ultra low power mode. I can't read while reading so I did not bring a book. I also did not strike up conversation with anyone. Here is my prep list for planning an inattentive day: 1. **Secure social time on the day before and after**: This is a solitary activity, so I try to fill my cup beforehand and know I have something to look forward to afterwards. This also helps to relax the mind a bit to have something pleasant happen beforehand. 2. **Really take the day off**: I found it was really important to get the full effects when I give myself a large amount of continuous time as possible. I think even one day is barely adequate. Even so, giving myself the full work day allowed me to structure my typical day the same way as I would if I had just gone into work and I really tried not interrupt it with anything but lunch. 3. **Fully power down the phone**: Print off any admission tickets, send whatever texts you need to send the day before. I decided to allow myself just 15 minutes over lunch to use my phone mainly to check in that there were no emergencies. Other than that, it got completely powered down again and stashed in my backpack. I also did not bring any other technology with me, especially any that paired with my phone. 4. **Prepare for a hike**: Even if I don't plan on hiking, most of the tactical stuff is the same as what you would do when preparing for a hike like bringing water and transitional clothing. 5. **Go alone**: Being with people is nice, but it is challenging for me to allow my attention span to plummet as low with the pull of wanting to check in with someone else. 6. **Find a single supportive environment**: Traveling by anything but a leisurely inattentive walk destroys the effect so I wanted to stay put somewhere that offers a variety of different inattentive stimuli. It's also important to detach from home because just being in the building pulls at the attention. I chose Filoli in Woodside, California (shown on an overcast day below) which is a wealthy estate later donated to the National Historical Trust. It offers gardens, a little cafe, a hiking trail and a variety show of different open seating arrangements across the estate to change my environment just a little within walking distance every so often. A park may work just as well, but I found this option was a good coupling of keeping nature around me free of distractions while also having modern amenities to get out of the heat or cold or use the restroom. ![One of the many beautiful gardenscapes at Filoli](IMG_5228.jpg) ![As I wasn't using my phone during my inattentive day, all of the Filoli photos here are from a previous visit. Here is a view from the rose garden](IMG_5242.jpeg) # Why Inattentive? When we spend too much time standing, we find a chair to sit down and rest. We are pretty good at meeting our bodies' needs for rest but we neglect the same principle for our minds. When our attention span and mental resources deplete, it's all too easy to push through the fatigue instead of pausing. But what does the equivalent of "sitting down" look like for our exhausted attention spans? We think we do this already because we often do things to give our minds a rest. But what we give our minds a rest *from* in these cases is not necessarily attention. It may be rest from constantly making decisions or concentrating on a work project. It is easy to overlook the fatigue of our attention span when rest looks like playing a video game, reading a book, or anything else that is fine and leisurely, but is not light on the attention span. So time dilation is the result, not the cause. When we have little to use up our attention span, we end up attending to the time itself. # Inducing time dilation ![Quail Café at Filoli](IMG_5214.jpeg) Starting the day was hard because transitioning to being idle isn't easy. I liken this to the momentum of coming to an abrupt stop in a fast moving car. It's not being stopped that feels unpleasant. It is the thrust of changing from moving to not moving. When I began to stop, the background noise of anxiety I am always carrying around felt more pronounced. I felt the pull of what to do next, of preparing for things, of being on time for whatever the next thing was. When I really stop everything I'm doing and try to hold there, I soon become unsettled in the feeling that I am wasting time, only because I have made some time available. Working through that transition is what needs to happen before I can induce myself into a state of time dilation. Simply put, the more idle I am, the more time dilates. This can feel a little abrupt at first but my mind eventually calms down to the point where idleness doesn't feel so uncomfortable. # How a spa-treated attention span feels When I stay in the dilation for long enough and come to peace with stillness, I get to reap the benefits of having a sense of attention that is ready to receive stimuli. I realize that there are things around me that invoke joy that have been there all along. It's kind of like something that glows in the dark, but it's a very subtle glow. With the lights completely off in pitch black, you see the glow clearly with no effort at all. But even with just a little bit of healthy ambient light, you wouldn't even know it glows. When I dilated for longer periods (about a week), I felt connected to people in a way that was totally alien to who I thought I was or was capable of being. I listened to people so intensely, it wasn't just a matter of getting all the information—I felt like I could *camp out* in their thoughts. My impulsivity waned to the point that I had no interest in threading in my own inputs. My selfhood dissolved from the conversation. Instead I wanted to probe and ask gently leading questions to "co-think" in a kind of thinking partnership in the conversation. I realized what it was like to not need the ADHD accommodations when information lives securely in deep empathic wells of connectedness with other people. I honestly wonder if this is what people without ADHD feel like all the time. I don't know, I've only ever had my brain. # Waiting is a luxury After sitting with the idleness and becoming comfortable in it, it makes me reflect on why we are so uncomfortable with waiting. I always complain about not having enough time. I feel I am rushed to make decisions all the time. I fantasize about really giving different ideas that come to mind some serious unmetered thought. Yet when the opportunity arrives, I can only stab it with the insatiable need to be in an endless state of productivity. Why am I so uncomfortable with even just a little bit of stillness? Why does it matter to me so much that someone is driving just a little slower than I would like in front of me? I have learned from these intentional spans of deliberate inattentiveness to see the luxury in waiting. It takes some reflection to understand how I am constantly tormenting my mind to chase after the almighty cause of constant productivity. I reflected on what it meant that I felt more relaxation in this single day experience than I did on most actual planned vacations. I wonder why with a single deduction from my paid time off bank at work, I fear the prospect of waiting. When we are made to wait, I think we are unwittingly receiving a gift of something we all subconsciously are longing for. [[The Little Table and Chairs]] prove this to me. They are projections for who we aspire to become. We dream of the end of the hedonic treadmill. We think it looks like a state of heightened enjoyment of just stopping and sitting and being in a place. They reflect a fantasy we tell ourselves that all of this rushing and moving around will lead to a future moment where satisfaction earned from no longer needing to do those things will get the last word. It will translate into the finishing point of finally being able to stop and enjoy the moment. Yet, we get early releases of those moments all the time. ![[Partials#^eaec46]]