The subjective perception of Time is a well-known phenomenon studied by neuroscientists and psychologists. They have discovered that as people get older, the years seem to be fly by much quickly . Time slows down amidst a crisis or accident when we become painfully aware of every thought and feeling . It slows down when we are exasperated and eagerly waiting for something to happen (“Are we there yet...?”) but, in sharp constrast, it zips by when we are engrossed in study. Scientists have also discovered the Kappa effect by which a faster journey over more distance appears more time-consuming than a slower journey over less distance. Psychedelic drugs like LSD are said to drastically impair the linear conception of time, making time go backwards and even out of sequence. Centuries earlier, St Augustine of Hippo commented that when we measure time, we are actually measuring the mental memory of the past event or interval of time .
When you sit with a nice girl for two hours, it seems like two minutes. When you sit on a hot stove for two minutes, it seems like two hours. That’s relativity.
Scientists are presently engaged in disentangling the human brain to discover the neural substrates of subjective time dilation [7, 8, 11]. In this article, we will explore the subjectivity of Time from the standpoint of the Spirit.
The Mother Mirra Alfassa made the simple observation that the perception of Time changes with the concentration of consciousness. As long as our consciousness is sense-bound, we remain restless and perceive a perpetual friction with Time but as our being begins to soak in the vaster and deeper ocean of consciousness, our perception of Time also begins to alter. As we regain sense of the greater consciousness that we are, we may find ourselves arriving in a state where the clamour of life begins to recede, the events in our life start to naturally organize themselves, and some uncanny power of intuition brings us the answers to our problems before the question even arises.
In the following excerpt, she discusses how a person on the spiritual path must begin living with a certain intensity of aspiration – an intensity which is above haste and lethargy.
Instead of pushing events to happen, one must learn to wait
The Mother Mirra: “One must learn how to wait. Sri Aurobindo said that he who has learned how to wait puts time on his side . Aspire intensely, but without impatience. The difference between intensity and impatience is very subtle – it is all a difference in vibration. It is subtle, but it makes all the difference.
And for a very long time, a very long time, one must be satisfied with inner results, that is, results in one’s personal and individual reactions, one’s inner contact with the rest of the world – one must not expect or be premature in wanting things to materialise. Because our hastiness usually delays things.
People live harassed lives. It is a kind of half-awareness of the shortness of their lives; they do not think of it, but they feel it half-consciously. And so they are always wanting – quick, quick, quick – to rush from one thing to another, to do one thing quickly and move on to the next one, instead of letting each thing live in its own eternity. They are always wanting: forward, forward, forward… And the work is spoilt.
That is why some people have preached: the only moment that matters is the present moment. In practice it is not true, but from the psychological point of view it ought to be true. That is to say, to live to the utmost of one’s capacities at every minute, without planning or wanting, waiting or preparing for the next. Because you are always hurrying, hurrying, hurrying… And nothing you do is good. You are in a state of inner tension which is completely false – completely false.
All those who have tried to be wise have always said it – the Chinese preached it, the Indians preached it – to live in the awareness of Eternity. In Europe also they said that one should contemplate the sky and the stars and identify oneself with their infinitude – all things that widen you and give you peace. These are means, but they are indispensable.
And I have observed this in the cells of the body; they always seem to be in a hurry to do what they have to do, lest they have no time to do it. So they do nothing properly. Muddled people – some people turn everything upside down, their movements are jerky and confused – have this to a high degree, this kind of haste – quick, quick, quick… Yesterday, someone was complaining of rheumatic pains and he was saying, “Oh, it is such a waste of time. I do things so slowly!” I said (Mother smiles), “So what!” He didn’t like it. You see, for someone to complain when he is in pain means that he is soft, that is all; but to say, “I am wasting so much time, I do things so slowly!” It gave a very clear picture of the haste in which men live. You go hurtling through life… to go where?… You end with a crash! ” 
The perception of Time after Enlightenment
(After Enlightenment, the subconscious gets purged of past memories and one lives from day to day carrying no psychological memory of past traumas or excitements. In this awakened condition, the flow of Time is radically altered. In these excerpts, the Mother expatiates on how she perceives Time.)
The Mother Mirra: “The more quiet and still you are within yourself and the more you have eliminated that haste I was talking about, the faster time goes by. And the more you are in that precipitousness, the longer time is, the more it drags on and on. Years and months are going by with dizzying speed – and without leaving any trace. So, if you look at it, you begin to understand how you can live almost indefinitely – because there no longer is that friction of time. ” 
The Mother Mirra: “The whole, entire universe moves forward with fantastic speed and in perfect immobility. Words seem idiotic, but you can feel this – you can feel it, see it, live it. A luminous immobility moving forward with fantastic speed. In that immobility there is perfect transparency … and the problem does not exist: the solution comes ahead of the problem. That is to say, things organize themselves (gesture showing the movement of universal forces) in such a way that they can change positions or take a different place in order to express the new thing that must be expressed: something new constantly enters the manifestation (as if emerging from the Nonmanifest), it enters the manifestation and transforms. And it takes place automatically. A vast, immense movement … (Mother smiles with her eyes closed) in which one can participate only if one is perfectly peaceful and calm and translucent. ” 
A poem on Time
Time is endless in thy hands, my lord.
There is none to count thy minutes.
Days and nights pass
and ages bloom and fade like flowers.
Thou knowest how to wait.
Thy centuries follow each other
perfecting a small wild flower.
We have no time to lose,
and having no time
we must scramble for a chances.
We are too poor to be late.
And thus it is that time goes by
while I give it
to every querulous man who claims it,
and thine altar is empty
of all offerings to the last.
At the end of the day I hasten in fear
lest thy gate to be shut;
but I find that yet there is time.
(Rabindranath Tagore, Gitanjali)
- Spacetime in occult worlds
- The brain is not the mind as per Yoga psychology
- The existence of vital signs during sleep or coma
- The action of subliminal memory
- Distinguishing between stilling the mind and dynamizing meditation
- Epistemology of perception
- Similarity between Neurological and Yogic models of human memory
- The Mother. Collected Works, vol 10, On Thoughts and Aphorisms, p 201.
- Mother’s Agenda, Sept 18, 1964.
- Mother’s Agenda Mar 15, 1967.
- Mother’s Agenda, August 29, 1964.
- The Experience and Perception of Time. Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy. Accessed Nov 21, 2010. http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/time-experience/
- Sense of Time. Accessed Nov 21, 2010 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sense_of_time
- Lynds, Peter Subjective Perception of Time and a Progressive Present Moment: The Neurobiological Key to Unlocking Consciousness Preprint 2003.
- Eagleman, David et al. Time and the Brain: How Subjective Time Relates to Neural Time, The Journal of Neuroscience, November 9, 2005, 25(45):10369-10371.
- Adler, Robert. Look how time flies. New Scientist, 25 December 1999. http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg16422180.900-look-how-time-flies
- Mo. Does time dilate during a threatening situation? Science Blog, January 23, 2010.
- Wittman, Mark et al. The experience of time: neural mechanisms and the interplay of emotion, cognition and embodiment, Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B 12 July 2009 vol. 364 no. 1525, pp 1809-1813.