Thursday, December 20, 2012

For Whom the Bell Tolls

Two weeks ago I installed a new application on my Android phone call the Mindfulness Bell.  I set the bell to radiate its soft ring every half hour throughout the day.  “Ding!” goes the bell right as I type this very sentence.  Upon the sound of the bell, you are to stop wherever you are, just breathe, and just be.  This exercise is intended to bring you back to a mindful, awakened state no matter where you are and what you are doing.
As with some of my other mindfulness practices, the bell felt uncomfortable and I was a bit embarrassed about it at the beginning.  I toyed with how loud to make the bell ring on my phone when I first installed the application.  How can I make the bell loud enough to catch my attention, yet not disturb anyone else while at work?   My hearing isn’t what it used to be.  What if my phone is in my purse?   I ended up settling on a ring loud enough for me to hear and others that are interacting with me. 
The bell noticeably rang during meetings, grocery shopping, yelling at my kids, getting ready for work, watching TV, meditating, talking with friends, at holiday parties, etc.  It has gone off while I have been everything from happy to sleepy to piss off. 
My employees are now even getting into the bell.   After a few days of the bell ringing, I decided to explain the bell to my employees.  To my surprise, during meetings everyone hears the bell, stops talking, smiles, and continues with the discussion.  Sometimes it even makes people laugh.  No harm in that! 
To think a simple bell on my phone can bring me back to the present moment…mindfully.  Hmmm, maybe I should set it for every 10 minutes!

Friday, December 7, 2012

A Confession

One day when I was 4 years old, my mother informed me that I was going to receive a special birthday present, a baby. Funny, I do not remember asking for a baby.  Umm, hey there, did I say I wanted a baby?  However, I remember everyone getting =excited, so I guess I became excited too.  Several months later, my birthday rolled around.  No baby.  I was disappointed—or so my mother said I was.
Nine days later, a baby girl was finally born.  Everyone was excited and coming over to visit. Even the Diamond’s from next door came over to see the new baby.  “Oh, she is so cute!” they said.  Funny, Mrs. Diamond never came over to our house, yet she came over for the baby.  I used to sit next to our adjoining fence and eat strawberries from stray plants that spread from her yard to ours—she saw me every day and never said hello.   Anyway, back to THE baby. 
My room was not even my room anymore—I had to share it with THE baby.   Now all of the attention was on her, not me.  So I went to my room, shut the door and sat on the floor pouting.  There the white baby crib sat, my old bed, against the inner wall of our bedroom.  Over the crib hung a mobile of various types of stuffed birds—my old mobile.  I stood on my tiptoes, stretching to reach one of the birds.  It was a difficult reach, but on my third try I managed to grab one of the birds and pulled it off of the mobile.  I could feel the anger and jealousy filling my little body. I always wanted to know what made the birds’ spongy inside.  Then, I proceeded to cut the bird with my paper scissors.  I still remember the sandy, sawdust like material coming out of the bird and spilling on the light green and white shag carpeting.  Very cool!  All of a sudden I realized how much trouble I was going to be in, so I quickly cleaned up the mess and hid the evidence.  I think it took a few weeks for someone to notice the missing bird and, to this day, I do not remember ever getting in trouble. 
Now 40 years later, my baby sister can push my buttons like no other and I feel like that 4 year old little girl wanting to cut up her birds at times.  At the same time, she has become one of my best friends in this world.  My sister has decided recently to start studying up on Buddhism.  I am so happy for her, but it is a struggle not to fall into the mode of being the bossy big sister.  I need to allow her to find her own way, down her own path.  All the same, I know it will be both fun and a challenge to begin practicing together.
May you be happy baby sister.