How (and why) to use the Bell of Mindfulness on the Plum Village App

The Bell of Mindfulness on the Plum Village App is a way of reminding yourself to be mindful. Taking moments throughout the day to connect with your body, and to the present moment, can greatly increase happiness and ease.

This post will explore the Bell’s purpose more thoroughly, and explain how to use it.

If you experience any difficulty getting the bell to ring, see our blog post on ‘Troubleshooting the Bell of Mindfulness’.

Meditating all day long

In Plum Village monasteries, there may be only one hour of formal sitting meditation scheduled each day.

Since visiting a meditation centre could be expected to mean doing this for hours and hours, such a small period may seem lightweight. So why such a short time?

The reason is that formal sitting meditation is only the beginning. The goal is to be mindful in every moment that we can – so walking, eating, conversing, and resting can all be moments of mindfulness.

Mindfulness bells are a way to help achieve this.

Mindfulness bells in Plum Village

The first time you experience it can be a bit awkward: you carry on speaking, not realising that everyone has gone silent. But, at Plum Village, you soon get used to stopping when the bell rings.

The mindfulness bell can be the grand temple bell, the activity bell, or even the distant church bells. It can also be a chime set to go off every fifteen minutes, or even the sound of a telephone ringing.

Whenever a bell sounds, everyone pauses in what they are doing. It is a chance to stop and to take a few breaths in full awareness.

People might recite to themselves the gatha (practice poem) for listening to the bell:

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

Returning to our true home means bringing our awareness back to our body. By connecting with the physical sensations of our breathing and our body, we can return to the present moment.

The bell helps us to stop and fully enjoy breathing and being for a few moments; a mini mindfulness refresher.

Although the first part of meals at Plum Village usually take place in silence, people do have conversations after lunch and dinner. At these times, it is amazing to see the dining hall briefly fall silent at the sound of a bell. People have often been saved from potentially heated debates by the bell offering a chance to stop, pause, and reflect!

The Plum Village App feature: the Bell of Mindfulness

The Plum Village App aims to be a monastery that you can put in your pocket – so it naturally includes a bell of mindfulness.

To find this feature, tap the bell icon at the bottom of the screen and choose ‘Bell of Mindfulness’. Then tap on the toggle next to ‘Enable bell’ to configure its settings.

You can choose a start and end time for the period during which the bell will sound, and how often it should do so. This can be set to occur just once, or to repeat each day. You can also decide on your preferred sound from three options which represent the different bells used at Plum Village.

Whenever it sounds, just as with the mindfulness bells in Plum Village, you can use it as a cue to pause whatever you are doing and take three mindful breaths, returning to the here and now and reconnecting with your body.

This is an effective way to stop and reset, even for only a few moments. It is a chance to check in with yourself at regular points throughout the day. After enjoying a few mindful breaths, you may notice that you have become tense, need a glass of water, or that you have moved away from your intended task.

One small word of warning. In the Plum Village community, the bell invites everyone to stop together, which helps getting used to doing so consistently. When using a mindfulness bell on your own, after a while you may lose the habit of stopping. The mind can be tricky, and could say, “Just this one time, I will carry on working…” – the start of a slippery slope!

But that’s okay; it’s always possible to restart your intention to stop and pause at the sound of the bell. After all, this is something you are choosing to do to increase your happiness and freedom!

We hope you are enjoying using the Bell of Mindfulness on the Plum Village App. It is inspiring to think of app users around the world stopping, breathing, and enjoying the present moment!


A free app as a gift to the world

The Plum Village App is offered free of charge as a gift to the world. As well as the Bell of Mindfulness, it is full of guided meditations, contemplations, and talks offered by Thich Nhat Hanh and the Plum Village monastics. Do please share it with anyone who might benefit. If you are using the app and find it beneficial, you can support its continuation with a donation.

Comments

  1. Thank you so much for making this app a free gift to all. I have suffered greatly with depression and other disorders, and haven’t had money to be helped. Thank you for your kindness.

    1. Dear friend, please go to the app store and search for Plum Village. Let us know if you need further assistance. Thank you!

  2. Dear friends, Thank you for this wonderful app and for all the extremely helpful and inspiring gifts of Plum Village tradition. With much love and gratitude. 🙏❤️😊

  3. Same problem. It doesn’t sound for me as well. It says turn off silent mode but I have it off and it still doesn’t sound. I think the app needs to be updated. Maybe IOS Updated and broke something.

  4. I am so grateful for this app. It is a great gift and everytime one session ends with the usual ‘thank you for taking the time to..’ I think to myself ‘ no thank YOU Sister for sharing this with me.

  5. Merci beaucoup pour cette application
    À la maison, j’avais le clocher de l’église
    Je viens de déménager et pas de clocher à proximité, j’ai été heureuse de la trouver
    Merciiii

  6. It’s helpful if I can turn vibration off on the Bell Configuration. The sound of bell and vibration makes me a bit surprise. Thank you.

  7. Since the Pandemic began I have been searching deep within myself for something… I came across your Plum Village app while looking for a bell sound to continue developing my Meditation 🧘‍♀️ practice. After listening first to Sister Dang Nghiem ‘Practicing with the Bell’ 🔔 I kept reading and found what I was looking for it has a name ‘Mindfulness’ Thank you so much for bringing your teachings to the World 🌎.
    Deb 🤗

    1. Dear Debra,

      We are so happy that you have found the Plum Village app and to know that you enjoy the teachings 🙏. It’s great to read that you are experienced with meditation already. I hope you also enjoy the wonderful bell sounds:)

      Thanks for being with us 🙏,

      The Plum Village App team

  8. Is there a reason why, if attempting to set the bell to ring for 24 hours, the bell can only ring 23 minutes at the shortest? And if so, why?

    Thank you and this bell has been a wonderful gift. A lotus for you, a Buddha to be.

    1. Dear Lucas,

      Thank you for bringing our awareness to that 🙏. I have reached out to our programming team and they will look into it :). Happy you enjoy using the Bell of Mindfulness.

      A lotus for you,

      The Plum Village App team

  9. Dear sangha
    I am truly grateful for this wonderful tool of mindfulness, that invites me back into the present moment every 30 minutes everyday!

    Even as I teach online or offline, I stop, and many people in the audience join me, some who also download the app.

    It’s really life changing!

    Unfortunately, after updating to iOS15.1 I can no longer hear the bell. Other functions, like meditation still works. I miss the Plum Village bell darkly and would love to hear it again.

    Any thoughts on how to do that?

    Warmly
    Kai from Japan

    1. Dear Kai,

      Thank you for reaching out to us and sharing with us so lovingly about how you use the Bell of Mindfulness in your daily life. We have recently submitted an update to fix the Bell of Mindfulness and it should be in the app stores in the coming days 🙏.

      Thank you for using the PV app and practicing with us so patiently 🌿.

      A lotus for you,

      The Plum Village App team

  10. Dear sangha
    I am truly grateful for this wonderful tool of mindfulness, that invites me back into the present moment every 30 minutes everyday!

    Even as I teach online or offline, I stop, and many people in the audience join me, some who also download the app.

    It’s really life changing!

    Unfortunately, after updating to iOS15.1 I can no longer hear the bell. Other functions, like meditation still works. I miss the Plum Village bell darkly and would love to hear it again.

    Any thoughts on how to do that?

    Warmly
    Kai from Japan

    Bell

  11. Thank you for this app and bell. It has helped so much. I wonder if you might consider adding a few different tones of bells? This way, I can change it when I start to feel myself becoming too used to it and it will renew my awareness. Thank you again for bringing help right to my phone into my every day life. You’re making such a difference by boldly marrying ancient truths to modern tech.

  12. Dear app team,
    This app is such a wonderful treasure trove. Thank you so much for all that you do. I have downloaded the app to my android phone (Huawei p30) and have followed all the instructions to activate the bell. Despite this it still Is not sounding even when I don’t have anything muted. Have you seen this problem before? Any suggestions? I would really like to use this tool.
    Thanks in advance,
    Gerri

    1. Dear Gerri, thank you for reaching out to us 🙏. We’re very happy that you have found the Plum Village App and that you enjoy it so much! We would love to help you with the Bell of Mindfulness and therefore invite you to please send a message to our technical team at hello@plumvillage.app, describing the situation as you have here.

      With much appreciation and care,

      The Plum Village App team

  13. Thank you for creating such a wonderful app so that we can have the teachings of such an inspirational leader with us at all times. I appreciate that it is a free app and am grateful for that.

    I was saddened to hear of the passing of Thich Nhat Hanh. This app helps carry on his legacy and reminds us every day to be mindful. Thank you for carrying on the teachings of such a wonderful individual.

  14. Thank you for this app. There are so many great resources in it.

    It would be great if the bell of mindfulness could be configured to only be used on certain days as there are times when it wont be appropriate for it to go off.

    Thanks

  15. Deep Appreciation for Thich Nhat Hanh, for the whole community of Sangha at Plum Village and beyond. Thank you from my heart. Metta,
    Gary

  16. Dear community. This app shows so clearly the work and love for the world of this beautiful master. I am so grateful I have just found it. And as all the creations of Thay, it contains all the items one needs to grow in mindfulness. This is a treasure. Thank you so much.

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