As we head into 2015, I’ve been toying with the idea of resolutions. I say toying because I’m not one to generally make annual resolutions, because I’m not one to generally keep ‘em. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that I’m not looking to evolve and grow, I’m just much more about the turtle approach, and less the hare. That’s to say, I try and integrate the changes more gradually, day to day, throughout the year vs setting up this annual expectation that usually fizzles out by Valentine’s Day.
This year though, I thought about taking a slightly different approach. Perhaps it’s because I’m used to looking at editorial calendars these days, and how to organize content with tags and keywords. I thought about creating a keyword list for 2015, the top keywords that embody qualities of things I’d like to better integrate into my day to day as we move into this new year.
As I stared at the cursor flashing at me on a blank screen, a few keywords just started to call out, words and concepts like: body, speech, and mind in perfect oneness, breath, divinity, grace, authenticity.
And that’s where there started to be what one of my teachers calls ‘gaps’. These momentary flashes of wisdom and space that appeared between these keywords. Not sure exactly how to articulate their interconnectedness, but for me they are all part of what I hope to plant as seeds for 2015. To put it another way, they reminded me of Zen Master, Thich Nhat Hanh and the Bell of Mindfulness.
The bell is a bell of mindfulness to encourage us to know when to begin or to end something. It acts like a bodhisattva, gently calling us back to awareness of the present moment. When the bell is rung three times, we stop whatever we are doing and relax and become aware of our breathing. We stay still and silent until the sound dies away. By stopping to breathe and restore our calm and our peace, we become free and restore our mindfulness. Within the practice we refer to inviting the bell to sound, rather than “striking” or “sounding” the bell. The small rod used to invite the bell is therefore known as the bell inviter. The person inviting the bell (“the bell master”) needs to feel really solid, at peace and present in the moment. Accordingly he or she needs to concentrate their awareness so that the bell will produce a beautiful sound and be of maximum benefit to the Sangha. To help the bell master accomplish this it is useful to first focus on one’s breath and recite the following gatha:
“With body, speech and mind in perfect oneness
I send my heart along with the sound of the bell.
May all who hear it awaken from forgetfulness
And transcend all anxiety and sorrow.”
The sound of the bell gives us an opportunity to come back to our breath and dwell in the present moment. On hearing the sound of the bell, we stop what we are doing and concentrate for at least three breaths. The following gathas can help us in this practice:
Listen, listen, this wonderful sound
Brings me back to my true self.
The sound of the bell is the voice of the Buddha
calling me back to my true home.
Before inviting the bell again, the bell master will allow enough time for three in- and out-breaths.
Wishing you and yours a healthy, happy and joyous 2015!