Who’s Controlling Your Inner Clock?
Why not speak of “my time” and “your time”? A clock on the shelf mindlessly taps out its seconds and minutes, but our inner clock possesses as much intelligence as the brain that houses it.
After years of searching, physiologists in the last decade have pinpointed the biological clock that governs all the rhythmical functions of the body. A tiny core of cells in the hypothalamus regulates all these wheels within wheels, orchestrating rhythms as long as the twenty-eight-day menstrual cycle and as short as the three-hour burst of growth hormone. Even the chemical reactions inside individual cells, which take place thousands of times per second, must obey the body’s master clock.
To use the word “clock” here is deceptive, because we can dictate the flow of time within ourselves, breaking free of any mechanical ticktock. We wake, sleep, eat and breathe at will, overriding the preset cycles for these functions.
Some women seem to be able to reset their ovulation cycle, delaying their periods under times of stress (they may not realize that they have made this choice, but their bodies apparently are responding to a specific brain signal triggered by the woman’s emotions).
In more extreme cases, women suffering from multiple personalities can have a period for each personality, separated by several days or weeks each month. A woman with three personalities and three menstrual cycles does not have three separate clocks inside; instead, she has better control over time than we generally acknowledge.
To have so much freedom of choice can play havoc with rhythms that should not be thrown off – jet lag temporarily disrupts our major sleep-wake cycle, pulling dozens of smaller cycles along with it. Yet the very fact that time and mind can blend into one another points to the possibility of total freedom, an escape from mindless clocks into a reality where every second is alive.
Adapted from Unconditional Life: Discovering the Power to Fulfill Your Dreams, by Deepak Chopra (A Bantam Book, 1991).