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

The Bell of Mindfulness on the Plum Village App is a way to remind yourself to be mindful. Taking moments throughout the day to connect with our bodies and the present moment is a great way to increase our happiness and ease.

Meditating all-day long

In Plum Village monasteries, there is maybe only one hour of formal sitting meditation on the schedule each day. That might seem pretty lightweight. People might have the idea that visiting a meditation center would mean hour after hour of sitting meditation.

So why such a short time? Because the formal sitting meditation is only the start of it. The idea is to try to be mindful in each moment we can, so that walking, eating, conversing, and resting are all moments of mindfulness.

Mindfulness bells are one way to help with this…

Mindfulness Bells in Plum Village

The first time you experience it can be a bit awkward. You carry on speaking, but soon realize everyone has gone silent. But you soon get used to the practice of stopping with the bell at Plum Village.

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

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

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

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

The gatha for listening to the bell

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. It’s like a mini mindfulness refresher.

Although the first part of the meals at Plum Village are usually in silence, people do have conversations after lunch and dinner. It is amazing to see the dining hall briefly fall silent at the sound of a bell. I remember times when I could easily have gotten myself into a lengthy debate on a topic, but the chance to stop and breathe has given me the space to decide if I really want to or not!

The Plum Village App feature: Bell of Mindfulness

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

To find it, you just need to tap the bell icon at the bottom and choose “Bell of Mindfulness”.

You can choose the start and end time of the bell and how often it should sound in between. It can be set to repeat each day or just as a one-off sound. You can also choose your favorite bell sound from three options which represent the different types of bells used at Plum Village.

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

This is a great way to stop and reset, even for just a few moments. It is a chance to “check-in” with yourself at regular points throughout the day. After enjoying a few breaths mindfully you might notice if you have become tense or if you need a glass of water or if you have moved away from the task you wanted to be doing.

One small word of warning though. In the Plum Village community, the bell invites everyone to stop together, which helps to make stopping with the bell a consistent activity. If you are using a mindfulness bell on your own, you might lose the habit of stopping after a while. Sometimes the mind can be tricky and will say “just this time I will carry on working…”. and from there, it is a slippery slope! That’s ok, it’s always possible to start again with the intention to stop and pause with the sound of the bell. After all, this is something you are choosing to do to increase your happiness and freedom!

We hope you 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 for free 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.

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