Bells of Mindfulness

Westgate Park Still Life (over lunch hour today)

Westgate Park Still Life (over lunch hour today)

This evening as Anthony and I were taking a very brisk walk in the cold, the bells from a nearby church were ringing. Electronic, but a lovely sound, nonetheless.

There are some bells that are lovely to the ear, and others I can’t stand.

The other day, I was standing in the hall at school right underneath one of the bells. Those bells grate on me. Our very nice tutor happened to be standing near me when the bell rang. We were in the middle of a conversation, and the bell rang. I had more than one reason to stop that conversation mid-stream. As we stood there together, I took a deep breath, and she looked a tad puzzled at me (maybe–or maybe I was just hallucinating the puzzle on her face!).

I explained to her a teaching that I had just read from Thich Naht Hanh, who is constantly working on the re-interpretation of Buddhist teaching in order that we may more readily apply it in modern life.

“On your arrival you might hear a bell sound and suddenly people around you have stopped still, stopped talking, and stopped moving. It might be the telephone ringing or the clock chiming, or the monastery 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 that naturally, with enjoyment, and without solemnity or being stiffed.

When we hear one of these mindfulness bells ring, we stop all of our conversations and whatever we are doing and bring our awareness to our breathing. The ringing bell has called out to us:

Listen, listen,
this wonderful sound brings me back to
my true home.

By stopping to breathe and restore our calm and our peace, we become free, our work becomes more enjoyable and the friend in front of us becomes more real. Back 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.”

(from the Plum Village Website)

Not a bad idea, I think.

A New Ring of Twelve in Warwickshire

Be well, and at peace,

Phil

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One Comment on “Bells of Mindfulness”

  1. Frederic Says:

    Nice post Phil. Thanks for the nostalgic trip. How I miss the sound of the church bells, did i tell you that I am going home to France to visit my mum for Chrismas. She lives in a small village in the Pyranees mountains where the bells still sound every hour from morning to evening to the farmers know the time of day and they ring continuously for 5 minutes in each evening to let them know it’s time to come in from the pastures/paddocks.

    It’s the little things like the Church bells that remind of how different the the Australian and French cultures are and at how time stands still in some parts of the world.

    Be Well

    Frederic


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