For Day 45 of Wildmind’s 100 Day Meditation Challenge I wanted to post something I wrote in response to one of our participants who found it useful to set a bell to ring every so often while she was meditating.
What I’ve found is that when I’m listening very intently to something, I can’t also do much (if any) thinking. So listening to a gong can be very calming.
When we’re listening we’re also being very receptive and open, and opposed to all the “doing” we normally, well, do. That “doing,” if were not being very mindful, tends to make us close off to our experience, so that we can become very willful. The ideal is combining doing and receptivity, so that the doing takes place within a greater context of not-doing. But periods of pure “not doing” are a good practice.
Also, a bell naturally fades away into the void. It can get so that you’re not sure whether you’re listening to the last traces of the bell, or whether you’re listening to silence. And listening to silence is a great practice.
And lastly when you listen to a bell, it’s possible to be aware that there’s not just one “thing” you’re listening to. Every moment is different. Every moment is a combination of multitudinous arisings and fallings, beginnings and endings. And so in listening to a bell we can start to have a greater appreciation of impermanence and non-self; the sound of the bell doesn’t have a “self” — it’s not a thing. It’s composed instead of those myriad arisings and passings-away, just as we are.