Answer the Phone…in a Moment

| August 9, 2008 | 5 Comments

As I was watching the Eckhart Tolle and Oprah “A New Earth” Webinar in the spring, a tip that Eckhart gave really caught my attention. The tip was: when the phone rings, before picking it up take one conscious breath.

Remember, one conscious breath is a meditation.

living with tolle - using a phone call as a tool for awareness
This tip really resonated with me because I was answering the phone several times per day for my business, on both land lines and my cell phone. It made such great sense to use the ringing phone as a tool for triggering a conscious breath, so I really put energy into creating a habit out of this.

How is it going?

I had a lot of conditioning around answering the phone, so the start of this particular practice was a little tough going.

The first obstacle I faced was the fact that I have been conditioned for many years to pick up the phone immediately. When I was working in the corporate world, the customer service mandate was to answer the phone by the second ring. I actually answered the phone 95% of the time on the first ring. Occasionally, people would ask if the phone rang on my side of the line because on their side my line had not begun to ring.

The other obstacle was the conditioning at home and with my cell. The first thing I would do is look at the caller ID feature and quickly decide whether or not I was going to answer.

It was tough to break the habit of unconsciously picking up the phone. It really took concentrated effort to penetrate the conditioning of my habit and take that one conscious breath. I stuck with it though because I knew that I would have the phone ring many times throughout the day and this would work as a trigger for “waking” up.

After stumbling a bit for the first week, I did get pretty good at taking that one breath. Even if I only waited for the second ring before picking up, I still found I had time to take one breath before the third ring sounded.

If you are not required to pick up the phone by the second ring, then you should have plenty of time to take a breath or two before picking up on the fourth or fifth ring.

If you are planning to use the ring of the phone as a practice here are a few tips:

  1. If you decide to try this technique, then really commit to the practice. I can almost guarantee that you will experience some difficulty when you first get going. You do have a conditioned way of answering the phone right now and it will take conscious effort to break through that conditioning. If you commit to this practice, you will have a better shot at generating some consistent results
  2. If you experience difficulty mastering this practice, then be on the lookout for critical thoughts about your failures. The ego loves to complain about your failures, even though it may be the very cause, and letting the ego feed on a second helping of negative energy will not help your intention to take one conscious breath. This practice will be a great opportunity to practice acceptance, the first step of awakened doing that we discussed in our recent podcast.
  3. Have fun. Laugh at yourself when you become aware of how silly you must look running through the house to catch the phone before that last ring. Not only will you be missing an opportunity to take a conscious breath, but you probably look a little funny with your frantic pace.

Oh, I have to go. The phone is ringing!

For more tips on how to practice presence and Tolle’s teachings in daily life, be sure to listen to our podcasts.

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Category: ARTICLES

About the Author ()

Greg Larsen is the co-founder of Living with Tolle and an author, sound healer, and spiritual teacher. He was introduced to The Power of Now in 2000 and began leading groups and giving talks on the teachings in 2003.

Comments (5)

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  1. Pat Osborn says:

    I silently agreed to incorporate the phone meditation suggestion when I completed reading the article. Within seconds, ‘opportunity rang’. The result was quite predictable; you know what happened next.

    I resolve, again, to remember, if only for one second. Thank you.

  2. Greg says:

    Hey Pat, I’m sure opportunity will continue to “ring” with this spiritual practice! Don’t forget to take a deep conscious breath with that one second! All the best. Greg

  3. Luke says:

    There are places where you are required to answer before the second ring??? That’s ridiculous!! I have never heard of something like that..
    I work in a very well known international IT company and I have never heard of that, neither on previous works. I pick up the phone at the first ring, or maybe at the fourth, that depends on what I am doing and, of course, if I heard it or or not.
    I am from Europe.

  4. Greg says:

    Hey Luke, the company I worked for was a division of the Deutsche Post, a European company. I don’t recall if this was a company wide initiative, but we practiced this in the US. This was not a law, but it was definitely a goal.

    However, whether it was the first ring or the forth, there was still an opportunity to take a conscious breath before answering. So answering the phone became a spiritual practice. Now the question is: what activities of your daily life can you utilize as a spiritual practice? Thanks for the comment and all the best on your journey!


  5. Leian says:

    I rarely answer my phone anymore, and for reasons that, if I went into detail, would pretty much get to where you are above. It’s just not that important to be “on call” all the time. I’m home with 2 children. LOL

    However, I do love the concept of being present IN THE MOMENT and think the idea of a one-breath meditation is wonderful! I’ve been meditating extensively but never went as micro as to consider one breath a meditation in and of itself. What a wonderful idea for those days when meditation is out of reach… Thank you!

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