Telephone Meditation

If you have a habit of anxiously picking up the phone the moment you hear it ring (I do it myself at times – though less than before), let it ring while you take one mindful breath. Try waiting a full two or three rings before you pick it up and see how it feels. You can try this with text messages as well. When you hear it ding, don’t look at it right away. Check in with your body and breath first. See how your body reacts to that little ding. Take a breath and let it go. Then, either continue doing what you are doing and look at the text later, or look at it now. But either way, that little spacer in between the summons and your reaction can lead to greater understanding and wisdom.

I got this idea from a book I got in Thailand a few years ago at a little used bookstore in Chiang Mai. It is called The Wheel of Engaged Buddhism by Kenneth Kraft. There are many ways to remind ourselves slow down, breathe and relax throughout the day. The book also talks about a doctor, a compulsive clock watcher, who put green dots on his watch and the clock in his office. Every time he saw a green dot, he took a breath and relaxed his shoulders. He estimated that he took a hundred relaxing breaths throughout a typical day and he slowly let go of his clock watching habit.

Thich Nhat Hanh in his book Present Moment, Wonderful Moment: Mindfulness Verses for Daily Living talks about driving meditation in which we take a breath and gently bring our attention back to the moment every time we see a red light or brake light.

There are so many opportunities in our daily lives to come back to the present. In this way, our meditation can extend beyond the mat to any moment of our day.

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