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A Wakeful Buzz


I think something weird is happening with my phone.

Every day, for the past two weeks, I’ve received one to three texts that are very different from texts I’m used to getting. As part of the IDP Yearlong Immersion, the group was divided into smaller groups of four. Every day we are to text or email each other to let the rest of our group know when we’ve meditated. The purpose of this is to create a support system to encourage us to meditate every day. Last night at IDP’s class on Spiritual Awakening, Not Spiritual Bypassing, Dr. Jeffrey Rubin talked about the idea of a community of accountability--a group of people who support your practice, who you feel accountable to, so you feel motivated to actually DO your practice. My group is one of my communities of accountability, and we have chosen to text.

Though it is perhaps too early to tell, in addition to seriously supporting my daily practice, I think a side effect of this could be a different relationship to my phone. 

On any given day I receive a smattering of text messages from a variety of people. Each buzz of my phone produces in me what I’ll call a TEXT EVENT:

Sender of text +

How I am feeling about the sender at that particular moment +

What I imagine content of message is +

What actual content of message is =


Text events may elicit emotional/physical responses ranging from an annoyed eye roll to a gleeful fist pump (usually something in the middle.) Am I aware of these reactions? Am I aware of my feelings before I fire off a response? Sometimes yes, sometimes no.

When I receive a text message from one of the members of my Immersion group telling me they have meditated, it is like a jolt back to the present moment. It reminds me to ask myself, am I being mindful in this moment? Was my mind with my body? Was I swept away in discursive thought? Have I meditated yet today? How am I feeling?

As I receive more of these messages, I come to expect them more. The first few days they were surprises—I wasn’t used to them yet. But now they have become part of the fabric of my day. Now I know they are one of the options for kinds of texts I will receive. So when I hear my cell phone buzz and I think to myself, who could be texting me right now? one of the possibilities is that it’s my Immersion group. Sometimes it’s my group and sometimes it isn’t. But just remembering that it COULD be them is sometimes enough to give me a tiny little jolt back to the present moment. I pick up my phone to look at the text a little bit more aware of the action of picking up my phone to look at the text, a little bit more aware of how I’m feeling in that moment, a little bit more aware of how that might affect my relationship with the text event.

I wonder if there could be a kind of Pavlov’s dog thing going on. Perhaps one day just the buzz of my cell phone will be enough to remind me to be present, regardless of who the text is from, how I feel about them, or what the content is. I suppose I could change the alert sound from vibrate to a meditation gong a la Insight Timer, but I like that my reminder to be present could be something as ordinary as a cell phone buzzing. Maybe it will even work when I hear other people’s cell phones buzz, too.

But even more than the reminder to be awake to the present moment, what happens when I get a text from my group is that I feel a surge of warmth and gratitude towards these folks who are supporting my practice so diligently. Maybe that will become part of my relationship to text events, too. A buzz of my phone could be a reminder that a human being composed that text and is reaching out to me, and I can extend warmth and gratitude towards that person, any time I get a text.



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