For this month’s Daily Practice, I thought I’d share a practice with you that I have been doing for close to 20 years: Telephone Meditation. Then I thought that rather than limit it to just the telephone, I’d expand it to include e-mail and texting (which, though done on a phone, is still a different medium for communication).
First, let’s review Telephone Meditation. 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, next time the phone rings, 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.
And please, share how – if at all – your communication is effected by this simple practice this month.