Recently the notion of “contaminated time” has begun to enter the lexicon. It refers to leisure activities that are combined with something else, frequent housework or child care. So far the focus has been on how women’s so-called leisure time is “contaminated” by constant thinking about kids, house, work, errands, etc. While woman may bear the brunt of this contamination, obviously anyone’s leisure time can be contaminated—not thoroughly enjoyed or appreciated—if their attention is directed elsewhere.
Extending the concept further, contaminated time might refer to any time not enjoyed or appreciated independent of the activity one is engaged in—work may also involve contaminated time. So contaminated time really refers to intrusive thoughts that prevent one from being engrossed in the moment, the flow or whatever you want to call it. When I am focused on writing and thinking my time is usually not contaminated and I’d guess that a good meditator focused deeply on their breathing feels this even more so. (In fact attentiveness to any task that one enjoys defines “decontaminated time.”)
Extended in this way contaminated time is really contaminated mind. For most of us this involves distractions to our mental peace arising from ignorance, anger, envy, greed, and other impurities that obsessively and involuntarily occupy our minds. There has been more written about how to control our minds through meditation, exercise, keeping busy and the like than I can cover in this blog post. But I’d suggest that we would probably do best to minimize our peace-disturbing mental compulsions as best we can. They harm both ourselves and others.
Perhaps all of humanity’s problems stem from our inability to have inner mental peace.