Mindfulness Bell

The phrase “being in the moment” has been said so often, it at times sounds like a cliché.  But is it?  Recently, I took the phrase up on its offer of peace and serenity.  And surprisingly, I’ve found it!  Not all the time, but certainly more than I had in the past.  How?  By using technology.  Yep, technology.

I recently heard of buddhist monks using the mindfulness bell as a practice.  A beautiful tone, when heard, helps them to center and reminds them to stay in the moment.  At first this surprised me.  Monks?  Do they really need it?  Then, I thought about this on a deeper scale.  Maybe it’s not that they need it, but it’s the use of the mindfulness bell that helps them reach the state of being we are all hoping to reach.  Here I sit, typical American, trying to stay in the moment.  And there they are, practicing monks, of whom I assumed are always in the moment.  No TV, no pop-culture, no overbooked schedules to keep, yet they are using the mindfulness bell as a practice.  So, if this particular subculture is using it, even though they are closer to peace than most, then why aren’t I?

At this point, I think… hmmm… how do I bring a mindfulness bell into my life?  I got it!  My iPhone!  Yep, that’s the technology I speak of.  I searched for a mindfulness bell app on my phone, and there it was!  Now, eight times an hour, a beautiful sounding bell gently, and randomly, rings on my phone.  Every time I hear the bell I stop what it is I’m doing and center myself.  Am I in the moment?  Am I thinking ahead?  Am I stewing about what has already happened?  Surprisingly (or not so surprisingly) I found the first few days were very rough.  Consider a bell ringing eight times per hour.  That provided me with a random bell ringing over one hundred times a day!  With each bell, I was lucky to find myself in the moment maybe ten percent of the time the first few days.  As my week progressed, I was doing better, proud to be in the moment about fifty percent of the time.  After a week of this, I discovered a calm about me that I had only glimpses of in the past.  A calm that stayed with me and invited me to devour the world around me.  The sun was brighter, the clouds were more beautiful, and the people in my life were more inviting.  I continue to use the bell, not everyday, but most days.  It is a wonderful practice and I can now say, with certainty, being in the moment is not a cliché… it really does bring life into perspective.  It brings it to a whole new level.  Thank you iPhone!

p.s. If technology ever dies, I guess I’ll be looking for a bell carrier to follow me around.

“Its sounds call us back to our true home in the present moment–to emptiness. When we inter-are, we find peace, stability, freedom — the root of our happiness. With non-self we discover the nature of emptiness.”  ~ Thich Nhat Hanh

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