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Bells of Mindfulness

by Evelyn on November 2, 2010

A reader, by the name of Art Gould, wrote to me and asked if he could share a useful self-help tip on mindfulness. I have always enjoyed personal empowerment techniques and was most intrigued by his email. Here is an excerpt from his message…

Bells of Japan
(Photo taken of a street stall selling bells and wind chimes in Tokyo, June 2010)

What a great site!  I have been reading Abundance Tapestry for over a year and have found your site to be simply awesome! Your advice has not only helped me navigate through more than a few tough situations but it has enabled me to embrace them as a part of life and learning opportunities.  Not only do you have an uncommonly well balanced perspective but you are able to communicate the ideals that guide you thereby helping and guiding others.  I especially enjoyed “Keep Holding Onto Faith“, which was such an insightful piece and a wonderful reminder that it is through falling that we learn to fly! I was actually writing today with a suggestion for a guest post.

As a division manager with a national self storage company, I am constantly bombarded with requests from a dynamic group of people. Time and the helpful advice of people such as yourself have helped me to effectively manage the challenges I face every day, but I am actually writing you today because I have come across a strategy that has helped me tremendously. Not only has it brought harmony to my day-to-day tasks, but as a pleasant side effect, it has actually increased my productivity.

I was curious for more details by Art and asked him to send his tip over. His response….

Bells of Mindfulness

Stress: “a physical, mental, or emotional strain or tension”.

We all experience stress to one degree or another. Some of us experience more of it than others. Stress can be a very clever enemy. Sometimes it sneaks up on you. Very often it takes on disguises and foreign identities. About six months ago, I got a bad case of the hives. I started seeing dermatologists and using all kinds of creams and lotions but those things did a much better job of clearing my wallet than clearing my skin. To compound my health woes, I soon began having episodes where my heart would beat rapidly and I would become short of breath. After undergoing numerous tests to rule out numerous causes, I had a long talk with my doctor. And what I found out was that my breathing problems and my skin problems were actually related to each other. They were both being caused by the same thing: you guessed it, stress.

Running a business is tough and in these hard economic times, so is getting customers. As much as I love and enjoy my work, it was no surprise to me that stress had begun to take its toll. And I know full well that I am not alone. I see many of my clients and customers who are undergoing their own personal battles on many different fronts: parenting, budgeting, changing jobs, dealing with a loss, coping with medical issues, you name it. And the economy sure isn’t helping either. All of these things are stress-inducing and cause various forms of anxiety which all of us would like to reduce or eliminate. So the big question: how can we do this?

One of my customers told me about something that worked wonders for her. She called it the “bells of mindfulness” approach. It starts with the realization that bells are everywhere; we are always hearing them. Church bells are one good example but there are many varieties of sounds we hear all the time which can loosely be classified as “bells”. Phones ring, doorbells buzz, alarm clocks go off, cell phones vibrate, timers resonate, etc.

To use her approach, you need to do what many very religious people do when they hear the sound of a ringing bell: use it as a reminder to take a brief moment to pause, take a breath, and reflect. First, you should choose a particular kind of “bell”; more precisely, some kind of sound (or even a visual or tactile event) that occurs at a time not known to you beforehand. My first instinct was to put to good use the ubiquitous “ding” noise that I hear on my computer every time an incoming email arrives. Every time I heard it, I would stop what I was doing, look out the window, take a few deep breaths, and try to focus and concentrate on the sensation of my breath as it entered and exited my nostrils. The entire exercise would only last about five seconds, but during those five seconds I would in effect be doing a mini-meditation.

After faithfully following this routine for a couple of days, I found that every time I returned to what I had been doing, my focus was much sharper and I felt a whole lot more relaxed. I began resisting the temptation to try to do ten things at once; instead, I was able to focus calmly and confidently on one important task at a time. I began feeling less anxious. Surprisingly, my various health problems began to slowly melt away. My hives disappeared on their own, without the assistance of any creams, lotions, or prescription medications. My heart palpitation episodes (or more accurately, what my doctor referred to as “panic attacks”) also became things of the past. Simply put, the system worked wonders for my overall well-being!

My fascination with the effectiveness of the “bells of mindfulness” system was so profound that I decided to look for other random events that I could use as my “bells”. It turns out that there are really several of them that surround all of us on a daily basis. Here are a few that I have used successfully:

  • the alert notification of an incoming text message on my cell phone

  • the “ding” of a microwave

  • the sound of a car alarm being set

  • my dog’s bark

  • a chirp from bird just outside my window

A great resource I found is a site called Mindfulness that will generate the sound of a bell at either regular or random intervals. It is operated by the Washington Mindfulness Community and uses software which resides at the site and does not have to be downloaded or installed on your computer.

Art Gould is a division manager with Self Storage Company, which operates a group of websites, including a Texas self storage locator. Art leads a stressful life, consumed meetings and conference calls. As a result, he has a strong interest in organization, balancing work and home life, and reducing stress.

NLP Anchoring

I relate the “Bells of Mindfulness” to a NLP concept known as anchoring. Anchors can be positive or negative. It can be made as a useful reminder as in the Bells of Mindfulness tip. To apply this tip, you are essentially linking an external experience with a habit that you wish to cultivate.

More can be understood about the use of anchors in a previously written post here: NLP Anchors.

Thank yous

Thank you, Art, for sharing how Bells of Mindfulness have helped you with being mindful and consequently, reduced stress.

It feels awesome to receive email messages like the one from Art. I have been blessed with reader support ever since I started this site. It’s great to receive emails almost on a daily basis from people around the world who shared that they have benefited from this site in some way.

Which brings me to how you can further support this site. I will be most happy if you can help me spread the word. It is my dream to reach out to a wider audience. The goal is to hit 10,000 subscribers. Please share the link to my site: Abundance Tapestry with anyone whom you think can benefit from the posts that I publish. Thank you in advance :-)

Enjoyed the Tip?

Did you find the tip useful? Do you happen to have other ways to apply the idea of anchoring? If you do, please share!! I will be delighted to hear from you!!

Abundance always,

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{ 12 comments }

ajay November 2, 2010 at 3:27 pm

It is a simple but very effective idea to use the sound of the’ bell ‘for the desired distraction/effect.
I have started benefitting from it almost immediately.
i shall tell about it to my riends and relations.
thanks again’abundance’.

Evelyn Reply:

Thank you, ajay, for your feedback. I sincerely hope that it will benefit more people too!!

All the best,
Evelyn

The Vizier November 2, 2010 at 3:46 pm

Hi Evelyn,

Life is not a bed of roses and we all could use some help in finding ways to manage the stress we face effectively.

What I like about the Bells of Mindfulness is its simplicity. Dealing with stress is an ongoing struggle and thus we need a method we can use regularly. In this case, your little exercise is so simple to do and effective, that it will go a long way in helping people to reduce their stress.

Apart from this, if we could paste little reminders and quotes around us to keep us in a state of mindfulness, I believe it will help to increase the effectiveness of your proposed method. This is simply because it makes it easier for us to slip into that state of mindfulness.

Thank you for this useful post on dealing with stress!

Evelyn Reply:

Hi there,

Pasting notes of reminders around the house? Hmmm…I haven’t thought about that. It’s a great idea! And a simple one as well!

Thanks for sharing,
Evelyn

Hilary November 2, 2010 at 3:50 pm

Hi Evelyn .. what a brilliant idea! So sensible and so so simple .. a technique we can use straight away.

Art – I had hives in South Africa .. stress .. it went after a while, but recurred & moved around a bit .. but once I’d relaxed about it .. it’s dormant, but still occurs in a little patch occasionally, then I breathe and tell it to go away -it does .. I know it’s there but it doesn’t bother me. Shingles is linked and that’s far worse ..

So I love this approach and I’m sure it would definitely help everyone – the bell goes .. breathe for a few breaths .. then move on ..

Thanks – Evelyn .. and I love the Tokyo bells – great read .. Hilary

Evelyn Reply:

Hmmm…now that you’ve alerted me once again…I should ask my friend who is current undergoing a bout of hives to read this post too! It may just be the cure for her. It seems that taking medication has not produced much results.

Thanks, Hilary!

With love,
Evelyn

Marion November 2, 2010 at 11:25 pm

Evelyn

That is a really clever idea. What a wonderful way of breaking into the madness of the day and reminding you to stop.

I will give it a try.

Evelyn Reply:

Hello Marion,

I enjoyed the thought: breaking madness with a mindfulness tip! Great to giving it a try!

All the best,
Evelyn

Alison Elliot November 3, 2010 at 4:39 am

Awesome Evelyn. After all these years of following various mindfullness practices I never recognized the obvious. BELLS – of course, what a great way to shift into conscious awareness. I hear bells ringing alllllllllllll day, I have a chime on my balcony!! I also found that setting myself to “wake up” by taking a breath each time I walked through a doorway triggers a a steady stream of mindfull awareness as well.

Evelyn Reply:

Hello Alison,

Sometimes, the simplest of tips is all we need. It’s nice that you’re surrounded by bells, which makes it easy for you to implement this tip.

With love,
Evelyn

Dia November 3, 2010 at 5:57 am

Hi Evelyn,

This is a nice idea about the bells. It is really nice and smart thing. Thanks for sharing

Evelyn Reply:

Hello Dia,

Glad that you’ve enjoyed this tip!

Abundance always,
Evelyn

Arsalan Alam November 3, 2010 at 2:55 pm

Hi Evelyn,

All I want to say is; thank you Evelyn and thank you Art for sharing this wonderful yet simple/quick technique to effectively combat the monster called “stress”.

Evelyn Reply:

Dear Arsalan,

You are most welcome :-)

With love,
Evelyn

Suzie Cheel November 3, 2010 at 8:25 pm

Love the title and the idea- How awesome is that, especially the beep of an email- I have turned all those sounds off to take away the distractions though.
I do like that idea though

A beautiful thoughtful, contemplative post, thank you Evelyn and Art

love and peace
Suzie

Evelyn Reply:

Hi Suzie,

Me too. I have turned off all distracting sounds. Still, I find the bells idea a wonderful way to remind ourselves to stop when I am doing and practice mindfulness.

Have an awesome week,
Evelyn

Chris Edgar November 4, 2010 at 12:36 am

Hi Evelyn — yes, I’ve also found it useful to check in with my breathing every five minutes or at some other regular interval, and relaxing if I notice myself breathing shallowly or tightening up somewhere. The sound of a bell sounds like a useful way to remind ourselves to do this.

Evelyn Reply:

Hi Chris,

Good for you in that practicing mindfulness is an automatic thing for you. I need reminders myself…LOL!

Namaste

Evelyn

Tom Volkar / Delightful Work November 4, 2010 at 2:56 am

Isn’t it curious how we often need to be reminded of these wonderful being activities because be ware so much engaged in being a human doing? I like the tip and I shall apply it. Thank you.

Evelyn Reply:

Hi Tom,

Indeed, practicing mindfulness is a way of catching ourselves in our habitual responses. It’s great to be to create an anchor that can remind us. As we become better practiced like Chris above, then we may not need to use bells as reminders. It becomes part of us :-)

With love,
Evelyn

Farouk November 7, 2010 at 5:08 pm

that is a beautiful post !!
thank you Evelyn :)

Dineh November 10, 2010 at 3:33 am

This is such a wonderful reminder idea. I have been working on becoming more mindful to overcome stress and the mindlessness of fatigue. Gratitude at a certain time had been my most used reminder, but this adds a beautiful new way to bless myself and my outlook during the day.

Alison Elliot’s doorways suggestion is another blessed reminder also. I may not be around too many bells, but just try to avoid doorways…. ;)

Thank you both.
with joy and mindfullness ~ Dineh

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