In our society, there is a pervasive addiction to stimulation.
Most of us spent the vast majority of our time stimulating ourselves through doing, thinking, talking and interaction with electronic devices. We spent very little time experiencing the peace and joy of simply being present.
Smartphones have greatly exacerbated this issue. Now, whenever there is nothing else more pressing, we can stimulate/distract ourselves by checking emails, surfing the internet, playing games, etc.
What if you could shift your phone from being a distraction to being a huge ally in being more consistently present?
Thich Nhat Hanh, the great Vietnamese Buddhist monk, taught us a way to do just that.
He suggested that we use our phone as a dharma bell.
At a Buddhist retreat, there is often a bell which rings at random times. The instruction is that when the dharma bell rings to pause for a moment and come back to the present.
Throughout the day, our phones are making frequent noises whether it’s an incoming call, a text, or any of the various other notifications we’ve programmed our phones to give us.
How would it impact your life if every time your phone made any sound, rather than robotically grabbing it, you took at least one mindful breath, if not two or three, then made a conscious choice whether to interact with your phone.
You would be frequently coming back to the Present in the midst of whatever activities or thoughts you were engaged with. Rather than getting lost for long stretches of time in doing or thinking, you would pause intermittently to recollect yourself.
I’ve known about this teaching for several years and have practiced it sporadically. Just recently, a friend and I made a strong commitment to use our phones as dharma bells throughout each today. We have been checking in each morning and evening.
With this renewed commitment, along with the support of an accountability partner, I have been quite consistent in using my phone as a dharma bell.
This is helping me to be more Present throughout the day.
Thich Nhat Hanh died earlier this year after a long life of great service to humanity. What better way to honor his memory—and to support your own awakening, by practicing the simple yet profound teaching of using your phone as a dharma bell.