Create your own bell.
In different meditation practices, the usage of a bell plays a key role in signifying the start and end of a meditation session, it marks intervals throughout the practice, and, most important for my practice, it reminds me to gently return to a place of one-pointedness and emptiness.
In Tibetan Buddhism, there is a saying that goes along the lines of, “the bell may be 500 years old, but its noise rings throughout the mountains for eternity”
This quote emphasizes how powerful emptiness can be. Yes, the bell made the noise that rang through the mountains, but an equal appreciation must be given to the vessel’s emptiness that allows the soundwaves to reverberate and ring out with a profound frequency to the outside world. The bell stands as a symbol of a clear, pure, undisturbed mind and how powerful that can be.
During my nightly meditations, I like to meditate for anywhere from 10-20 minutes with the sound of a bell ringing in five-minute intervals. After a long day, my mind is tempted to wander off, away from focusing on my breath or body’s sensations. It likes to worry about the mistakes I made, the achievements I accomplished, the checkboxes that were filled, and those that went unchecked. It hopes and dreads what is to come of tomorrow’s dawn...but then the bell rings and my mind is gently called back to the present moment.
Thus, the bell calls us to stay present and open to all the sensations laid before us without laying judgment on these experiences. And from this meditative practice, I’ve tried expanding this notion of the bell by finding other gentle reminders to stay focused in my life.
From my workspace, I can hear the sound of wind chimes from my neighbor’s balcony. Although this used to be a real annoyance during my working hours, I’ve morphed the significance of this sound into what James Clear might call a cue. In his book, “Atomic Habits,” Clear states the first step toward developing a long-lasting habit is creating a cue that jumpstarts that habit. To build a strong cue, Clear tells us we have to make it obvious.
Now, every time the Windy City blows those windchimes, I don’t let my mind get carried away by the noise or build new thoughts of anger and frustration. Rather, I craft the windchimes into my bell and use the noise as an audible reminder to stay focused on the task at hand.
Crafting your own bell can be simple, and I’ve made it a personal commitment to find them in all aspects of my life where I want to stay present and focused. Recently, my partner gifted me a jade ring that I know where on the same hand as my GPS watch, my left hand. When running, I often drift away from the thought of putting one foot in front of the other as I obsess over my pace, distance, time, and heart rate. When will this thing end? I sometimes ask myself, and as the old adage goes: a watched pot never boils.
To kept me present and even retain a flow state, I’ve begun to rewire my negative habit of staring at my left wrist. Every time I catch myself staring, I redirect my gaze from my watch to my jade ring as a reminder to stay empty, worry-free, and present with the material world.
And as the year rolls on, I hope to continue listening to the bells of our ever-present lives ring on and share those moments of mindfulness with you. Lastly, I hope this brought you some mental clarity and inspiration to find your meditative bell in your life — however it decides to manifest itself for you.
Have an awesome week!
❤️ My Weekly Favorites
- 📽️How to Become a Man of Action
- Very creative video from Captain Sinbad drawing lessons of productivity and mindset from James Bond.
- 🎙️ Be Tough On Yourself and Understanding of Others - The Daily Stoic Podcast
- Awesome mid-week reflection prompt from the Daily Stoic.
✍️ Quote of the Week
“It’s only by bringing a habit into your conscious awareness that you an observe what it’s doing, how it empowers and serves you or doesn’t” - Jeff Olson
📽️ This Week's Videos
🎙️ This Week's Podcasts
- Create Your Own Bell - Productive Brew 6
- Why Are You Doing It? - Productive Brew 5
- 80 - Perception is Everything