I am teaching my children time travel. It works like this:
Wherever you are right now – pay attention. Close your eyes. Notice how your feet feel on the floor; move them around a little to get the full texture. Listen to the sound your feet are making as they move. What other parts of your body are touching your surroundings? Move ever so slightly to take in the sensation.
Listen. What do you hear? The whoosh of cars going by? Dishes clinked together while being washed? Someone typing on a computer? Music playing on the stereo?
Now take a deep breath. The air doesn’t just carry the scent of your surroundings; it has a quality to it. It might be heavy with humidity, or thin and cold. But also pay attention to the smell. Scents are evocative; they can be powerful triggers of memory.
Finally look around and look closely. See the whole area from the large objects to one or two tiny details you may have never noticed. And really look at those details. If you look long enough it will be like seeing something for the first time because perhaps it is.
When you’ve captured your surroundings like this, in a mindful way, tell yourself you’re saving this for later. I can’t guarantee that everything you save will still be there, but you will find some of it again years from now. And when you find it, for a second you will be back in that space. And maybe, depending on how much time has elapsed between the initial imprint and the playback, that place won’t really exist anywhere but in your memory. And it will feel like time travel.
I tell this to my children but I’m not sure they fully understand. When you’re a child it can feel like your world is a rock, solid and unmovable. But as an adult you come to realize how quickly things can change. Something that seemed certain on one day is already gone the next and then you need to learn to let go of it. But if you weren’t really paying attention in the first place you can get all messed up. You start making substitutions for what it is you thought you had. You imagine it bigger or smaller or more or less important than it actually was. You start having feelings for it that you didn’t have at the time.
And so it’s good to take a moment, wherever you are, to really look around to see what is it you have right now. Later, when it’s gone, you can visit with it as it really was, or at least as close to what you perceived it to be, and you can be there again just for a moment before you let it go.