I’ve previously talked at length about mindfulness. Mindfulness means being right here, right now, fully engrossed in the present moment. It’s become somewhat of a mantra around here, but I’ll say it again. We spend so much time worrying about the future or beating ourselves up about the past, but the past is gone and the future never comes. The present moment, this second, is really all we have. Why waste it torturing ourselves about things we can’t change or control?
The truth is, right now is perfect. There is absolutely nothing wrong. If you take a second and really explore right now, you’ll see that I’m right. All those problems you thought you had, they’ll vanish. There is always peace right here, waiting for you in this moment. You just have to remember to look for it.
Now, I know this is easier said that done. Mindfulness is not our default setting. You may be fully present now reading this article, but chances are, a few seconds down the line your mind will wander. Your brain will decide it’s time to make a grocery list, that it wants to obsess about something that moron in the cubicle next to you said, it wants to start planning next week’s blog posts. This is just how it is. Don’t beat yourself up about it. Just accept it. No one stays mindful 100% of the time. But with some work, you can train yourself to be mindful more often. A regular Mediation practice can help tremendously. And here’s another nugget:
The Mindfulness Bell
Many Buddhist monasteries have something called The Mindfulness Bell. Every hour, on the hour, a bell sounds, for all to hear. It serves as a call to action, reminding the Monks and their guests to stop whatever they’re doing and re-anchor themselves in the present moment.
Like in meditation, this is generally done by returning to your breath. Concentrate on a particular point on your body where the sensation of breathing is apparent, the chest or the abdomen rising and falling, the cool sensation of the air entering and leaving your nostrils. Be with your breath completely, give 100% of yourself to it. When you are breathing in, know you are breathing in. When you are breathing out, know that you are breathing out.
I’ve seen this occur and it’s pretty trippy. A monk could be performing open heart surgery (not that monks perform a lot of surgery), but when that bell goes off, he’ll stop mid-incision and find his breath. It’s an experience that obviously take some getting used to.
I take it a step further, borrowing a little something from Thich Nhat Hahn. While anchoring myself in the present moment, I try to calm myself down, or at least set an intention to be calm until the next bell comes. When my Mindfulness Bell sounds, I take three full, deep breaths while saying the following silently to myself.
Out breath 1 - “Out”
Here, like in meditation, I’m just identifying my breath, making sure I’m full present with it.
In breath 2 - “Calm”
Out breath 2 - “Ease”
Here, I’m realigning my state of mind, letting go of any tension or frustration, setting an intention to be calmer, more at ease.
In breath 3 - “Present Moment”
Out breath 3 - “Perfect Moment”
And here, I’m reminding myself of everything I wrote above. Peace is always right here. I can find it whenever I need it.
Now, you’re not a monk. You don’t have to stop mid conservation with a customer at work and take your three breaths. If you’re in a place where it’s appropriate, please do. If not, just dedicate yourself fully to what’s going on in front of you, set an intention to remain that way.
What is Your Mindfulness Bell?
Assuming you don’t live at a monastery and/or have a monk at your house ringing a bell every hour on the hour, you’ll have to do a little work to implement this practice. It can be as easy as setting the alarm on your watch or iPhone to sound every hour or so. But I highly recommend this:
Spotlight Six created a Mindfulness Bell iPhone/iPad app that is highly customizable. It rings a beautiful Tibetan signing bowl at regular intervals throughout the day. It’s a bad ass application. I’ve used it every day for quite a while now and I couldn’t be without it. I actually have my mindfulness bell sound every fifteen minutes these days.
If you like that app, they also created a Meditation Timer application that I can also highly recommend.
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