A 2015 New Scientist article titled, “The Time Illusion: How Your Brain Creates Now,” explains that the now of which we are aware is a trick of the mind. The length of a moment, defined by the author, is two to three seconds. With training this window within which your brain fuses what you are experiencing into a “psychological present” can be extended.
Doctors Linn Cooper and Milton Erickson conducted a detailed investigation of the phenomenon in Time Distortion in Hypnosis. After a period of training, subjects were able to enter a deep trance in which the subconscious mind would produce a hallucinatory experience just as real as the waking world and in which the dreamer was quite unaware of surroundings and the passage of real-world time. Time distortion was gradually introduced using a metronome which struck once every second. It was suggested to the hypnotized subjects that the metronome was gradually slowing down and the length of time between each metronome strike was increasing. The subjects were than asked to visualize an activity. Mental activity was found to increase and became consistent with that required by a longer time duration despite the fact that time hadn’t changed—it never does.
One subject, to whom it had been suggested that the times between metronome strokes were one minute apart, responded by executing brain activity that should have required ten minutes when the metronome time showed only ten strokes i.e. ten seconds in real time.
Another subject, in a trance, used creative mental activity to spend an hour designing a dress, when only ten seconds had passed in reality, and a professional violinist showed increased motor learning skills by playing the fiddle in his hallucinated world to practice and rehearse whole compositions while only a short duration of real world time had expired.
None of the subjects were aware of the discrepancy in flow between their experiential passage of time and the real world. To them, activity seemed to pass at a normal rate.
This research into hypnotic temporality opens up several possible psychotherapeutic healing possibilities such as a new approach to the experiential past of an individual, controlled studies of subjective realities, and better understandings of pathological delusions and hallucinations. It also opens up new opportunities for research into learning, memory and conditioning such as how subjective motor activity compares to objective motor functioning during alternative-state learning.
It becomes interesting to look at hypnotic time distortion from the point of view of Burt Goldman’s concept of quantum jumping. If the subject under hypnosis visualizes passing through a tunnel into another world, how much time could she spend there when only a short time has passed in this world? Time slows down likewise at the entrance to a black hole which some people think is how we’ll locate an entrance to a parallel world or even the afterlife.
Modern quantum theory suggests that precepts like space and time may not be part of objective reality. They may be subjective, a product of individual consciousness. What if the induced hallucinatory experience was as real as everyday life and experiential time could be slowed so much that a whole lifetime’s experience could be fit into a tiny interval of actual time?
Maybe our experience in this life is but an moment in a parallel one and the afterlife is where the real waking world begins?