More about Time

considering how we experience time

K. Studd Nov. 2021

This post is in response to questions I often encounter about where Time fits into the LBMS structure.  And also, to what I have recently been thinking about and exploring in relation to this inquiry with several classes.

Flow – Breath – Time:

The Action ofBreath – a foundational experience that is linked to our developing a concept of time

The action of our breath and the ongoing process of breathing is a life definer. Indeed, we generally demarcate our lives starting from the first breath at our birth and ending with the last breath when we die. We see this demarcation through the dates carved on tombstones with the dash in the middle representing the entire life lived in between these dates!  I have remarked about this image in many classes and how this reveals the significance of the beginnings and endings as phrase boundaries. In addressing this tombstone motif, I have also joked about how the “main action” of this life phrase is denigrated to a minus sign in the middle! However, this horizontal dash line, separating the beginning and ending, can also be viewed as the flowline – the flowline/timeline of the life of an individual. (Remember that in LBMS Motif, Flow is represented as a horizontal line).

In the Laban/Bartenieff Movement System flow is considered as the foundational basis of movement. This baseline flow is the successive and fluctuating “ongoingness” of life energy. In this way the flow construct is aligned with (or perhaps even synonymous with?) the experience of our perception of time i.e. as a continuous streaming of life.  This flow base is the universal flow of all life.  However, although we as individuals are part of this universal life flow, we also have our own personal flow, and this is the basis of how we experience the action of control through the withholding or releasing the flow of our actions. This control action includes breathing as an experience of life’s ongoing energy.

Our breathing itself is a duality expressing states of both “being” as well as “doing”. These states, in turn can be associated with the Body/Mind and Mind/Body duality/wholeness of the human condition. We breath as a part of being alive (linked to our “being”) and this does not require any attention, agency or choice. But we can also actively choose to intervene in our personal breath process (by doing). We can hold our breath (at least for a while). We can take a deep breath; we can slow down our breathing or forcefully breathe out.

(NB I am addressing breath in a context of relatively stable health and well-being, not in cases of disease or physical impairment that are experienced for example in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease – COPD or asthma).


Our personal flow as expressed in the breath process is a part of the greater universal flow. This personal/universal duality can be linked also to the LBMS Duality Theme of the Inner/Outer relationship.  We experience this continuum as we breath, taking in oxygen from the air of the outer environment and then giving out carbon dioxide back to the outer environment. Through the breath process we experience ourselves as connecting Inner/Outer. Many classes in the LBMS practice start from this place of awareness of breath (Body) and Space. In these classes we experience the Body as a container of Space and the action of breathing being the foundation of finding the continuum from the inner space (what we now identify as Innersphere) to the outer space, the space of our Kinesphere and beyond into the shared General Space of the environment.

I believe that as part of our functional experience of breath and our personal expression through the breath process, we come to identify/create the concept of time. Humans are both pattern makers as well as pattern perceivers. The parts of the time concept can be found in the actions – in the phrasing and rhythm – of our breathing including: tempo, duration, emphasis. (NB Remember that Function/Expression is one of the four major Duality Themes recognized as foundational patterns in LBMS)


To explore the idea of time linked to breath, try this – – simply breathe and become aware of the Phrasing of the actions of your breathing. Start by sensing the breath phrase as having two parts – the inhale, the exhale. Next also become aware of the transitions between these two actions, in the active stillness at the end of the inhale before the exhale, and then also at the end of the exhale before the next inhale. Note the relative duration of all these parts.  Are they all the same or do they take different amounts of time?

What about the tempo of your breath rhythm – is it moderate or slow or fast? 

Is there an emphasis at the beginning or middle or end of the phrase of a breath? Or is it even? If there is an emphasis, is it linked to acceleration or deceleration?

Now explore making specific changes in these aspects of time through altering the breath phrase.  Explore changing duration of the different parts. Change the tempo by breathing faster or slower. Explore places of emphasis in the phrase of a breath – at the beginning of the inhale or at the transition between the inhale and exhale or at the end of the exhale.  What happens when you intervene by altering the duration, tempo or emphasis of the parts of the breath phrase? What feels natural, familiar or weird? What memories or images or associations occur?

Time has a universal aspect. This is the time recognized in our conceptualizations of the Physics of SpaceTime. In addition, we functionally identify and create constructs of time that we use to measure and capture the ephemeral phenomena of time. We identify seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, years and eras, measuring from the micro to macro shorter and longer increments of duration.

But we also have our own personal relation to time and how we relate to this streaming. We identify our past, and our future as well as the moment-to-moment experience linked to what in LBMS we identify as the Time Effort Factor. Time Effort is an expression of how we feel about the flow of time as we accelerate and decelerate. As we hurry up or linger, as we perceive time’s passing and our need or desire to expand or condense time.

Different cultures view time in different ways .  This could be material for a whole other blog post! But this is not my intent in this post so I will save this topic for a later time! 

But it is interesting to note that there is well-known a phenomenon identifying two distinct perceptions of the movement of time: one is the experience of time from what is called an ego-moving perspective of time and the other is the time-moving perception of time. For a user-friendly explanation of this take a look at:

In the ego-moving perspective you perceive yourself as moving forward through time. In the time-moving perspective your perception is more that you are stable and time is flowing through you.  ( Ask yourself –  “Is the end of the week coming?” or “are you moving towards the weekend?”)  These two perspectives have a connection to the Mobile/Stable Theme used in LBMS.  And I connect the idea of these two perspectives to questions I often ask of those I have engaging in a breath awareness experience (not attempting to change but simply experiencing the way they are breathing) – “when you breath in, are you pulling in air (you doing)? Or is the air rushing in filling a vacuum or empty space?” “And when you exhale are you sending the air out or is it flowing out in the same way that water runs downhill?” This is also a returning to the theme of being/doing that I addressed earlier

As we well know breath and flow are vital somatic experiences and offer endless opportunities for connecting to oneself and to the world. They are at the heart of somatic practices.

You might want to ask yourself as you connect to yourself through breathing- How do you feel about time’s passing? – To the flowline/timeline of your life?

K. Studd Nov. 2021