Inner  Frontier
Fourth Way Spiritual Practice


Inner Work

For week of January 25, 2016

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Phone Presence

(Presence Trigger 6)

One advantage of having phone calls trigger presence is that incoming calls happen randomly. So if we can train ourselves to respond with presence whenever the phone rings, we can then bring presence into moments that might otherwise lack it entirely. The incoming call side of the practice is this. Whenever we hear our phone ring, or feel it vibrate to announce a call, we immediately become aware of our body and of ourselves as being here and now. Then we maintain presence until the end of the call. As we reach for the phone, we stay present, in our body, as our self. As we speak and listen, we stay present, in our body, in our heart, in our mind, as our self. And we keep that up until the call ends.

The call triggers us into presence. If we forget to rise into presence when the phone first rings, then perhaps we remember at some point during the call. And we work at presence from that point on. If we lose our presence and then notice that during the call, we just immediately come back into presence.

One kind of question that arises here is whether it is possible to work at presence during a conversation without feeling somehow at least partially removed from the conversation, as if our work of presence itself were creating a barrier between us and the other person, or distracting us from the conversation. The answer is that presence brings us more into the conversation, more into contact with the person we are speaking and listening to.

In presence, we are not so distracted by our thoughts reacting to what we are hearing or planning what to say next. We are just listening, taking it all in, fully focused on the conversation. In presence, when we speak, we not only hear ourselves talking, we are also in what we say. We mean what we say and what we do not mean, we do not say. In presence we embrace both viewpoints: our own and that of the other person. We see the whole situation more clearly and respond more appropriately than when we are just reacting from a narrow part of ourselves.

The practice for placing a call is similar. When we notice our intention to make a phone call, we immediately become aware of our body and of ourselves as being here and now, and we set our intention to maintain presence throughout the call. As we start the call, we are there, in contact with the act. As the other person answers we are there, in contact with our body, our mind, our heart, our self, and hearing what they say. And so it continues until we end the call.

This is not an easy practice for two reasons. First is the challenge of remembering to practice phone presence. If we persist with the intention to have the phone awaken us into presence and carry through on that whenever we remember it, then gradually we accustom ourselves to having phone calls trigger presence.

The second challenge is becoming able to be present while in a conversation, though it is somewhat easier while listening than while speaking. In listening presence our mind quiets down and we just listen carefully. The difficulty there is the reaction we have to other person and to what is being said. We have thoughts and emotions kicking off in response. While they are speaking, we are planning what to say next. All that takes us out of listening presence, distracting us into what is happening inside us rather than what we are hearing.

In speaking we tend to get lost in what we are saying. It seems to us that we do not have enough attention to both be present and to speak. The difficulty here is our belief that we need to split our attention between speaking and presence. We can resolve this by just bringing one unified attention, one unified will into the act of speaking. We speak from the whole of ourselves. We are the one who is speaking. There is no duality of speaking and presence. There is just one: speaking presence. There is not intention and attention, there is just one will. Our unified will entrains our entire awareness, body, heart, and mind, into one wholeness: speaking presence. And with practice we extend listening presence and speaking presence beyond phone calls, into conversation presence in any situation.

For this week, please practice phone presence. Let the act of receiving or placing a phone call remind you to be present during that call.


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