When you arrive at the practice center, you might hear a bell and notice people pausing in their activities and conversations. It might be the sound of a telephone ringing, the clock chiming, or the monastery’s activity bell sounding. These are our bells of mindfulness. When we hear the sound of the bell, we relax our body and become aware of our breathing. We do this naturally, with enjoyment, and without solemnity or physical rigidity.
Listen, listen, this wonderful sound brings me back to my true home.
When we hear one of these bells of mindfulness, we stop our conversations and whatever we are doing and bring awareness to our breathing. The bell has called out to us:
By stopping to breathe and to restore our calm and our peace, we become free, our work becomes more enjoyable, and the friend in front of us becomes more real. At home we can use the ringing of our telephone, the local church bells, the cry of a baby, or even the sound of fire engines and ambulances as our bells of mindfulness. With just three conscious breaths we can release the tensions in our body and mind and return to a cool and clear state of being.