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.
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:
- 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
- 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.
- 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.