Telephone Mindfulness Practice
The "telephone," for many of us, has become something we can seem enslaved to: between texting, messaging, emails and various app notifications -- and of course actual phone calls -- we may fall into a pattern of deep attachment and reactivity.
The "telephone meditation" practice can create the conditions to step back and allow us to respond rather than react.
For many of us, the phone is at times a distraction, at times a task-master and oppressor. When the phone rings, many of us have been conditioned to jump and answer on the first ring. Yet, we often find ourselves distracted during the phone conversation when we do so, because we haven’t stopped or turned away from what we had been doing when the phone rang, and we aren’t really fully present to the person on the other end of the line. We are caught in a kind of in-between place, and whenever we have called someone who is in a similar situation, we can find ourselves irritated with the half-hearted attention we are getting from the person we called.
So, why not try, the next time the phone rings to stop what you are doing, and take a breath or two or three, depending on how slowly you breathe. Just stop, breathe in, breathe out, mindfully pick up the phone and answer. You will be offering your full presence to whomever has called. You will have stopped being a slave to the phone.
The practice is similar whenever we hear our phone signal that we’ve received a text message, or when our computer ‘pings’ the arrival of an e-mail. Stop what you’re doing, take three breaths and then read the message or e-mail. Again, you will be more fully present, undistracted, and free.
If you wish, before answering any of these “invitations” to communication, you can recite the following gatha, a variation on the “Listening to the Mindfulness Bell Gatha:”
This sound brings me back to my true home.
In the here; in the now.
This is the ultimate in which I dwell.
AND, when it comes time to make a phone call, send a message or e-mail, take a few breaths, and recite to yourself the following gatha before making the call or hitting “Send:”
Words can travel across thousands of miles.
May my words create mutual understanding and love.
May they be as beautiful as gems,
As lovely as flowers.
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Poepsa Frank Jude Boccio is a yoga teacher and zen buddhist dharma teacher living in Tucson, AZ.