A Door with a Bell

At my in-law’s home, the guest room’s door has a beautiful antique Tibetan brass bell hanging from a silk cord over the doorknob. On the inside. It’s not a bell that tinkles gently like the iron one I have outside to catch the wind. It’s a bell that dongs brashly (brassly?) whenever the door is moved with any force at all.

I’m not sure if it’s meant as such, but it has become a forced meditation for me: to open the door without having to listen to the bell. To step back and open the door slowly, as I really haven’t anywhere I need to rush when I’m here. Sometimes, I’ve discovered, the forced meditations are the best, since they require that I think about what I am doing; they force me to be present.


  1. I have a similar experience with my own room. If I open my door too hard it will eventually complete the swing to become completely open and hit the metal part of my wardrobe, making an annoying noise that haunts me as I walk down the hall. For a while I had to concentrate on opening my door with just the right amount of force so that it didn’t continue to open and make a clang. But I recently wrapped a piece of cloth around this metal part (door handle) to silence this possible annoyance :). Being ‘present’ at every opening of the door gets old after a while! Luckily it is just a guest room.

  2. I like that. I’ve never thought of forced meditations before. I sat here for several minutes trying to think up one in my own life, and the two I came up with (which aren’t as physically present as your bell, but are similar in that they force me to slow down) are:

    Being stopped at red lights. I drive too fast and am sorry to admit that I am not always fully present in my driving. However, I almost always find myself glancing at the other drivers around me when I have to stop at a red light (grrr….) and remembering how many other people are on the roads and reminding myself to drive better and more carefully. I find myself pondering on (meditating on) the lives of those around me and what they value in their lives and who they might be.

    The other is my vicious cycle of trying to fall asleep at night. My mind tends to constantly be a complex factory of many different thoughts all in the same moment circling the chambers of my brain. (Maybe this is what contributes to my distracted driving….) At night, I tend to think about a million different things as I lay in bed trying to fall asleep. It’s quiet and I’m resting and it’s the perfect time to think, but I can’t fall asleep until I stop all those circles of thinking from running around in my mind. So when I’m tired and ready to sleep, I’m forced to slow my mind down and calm myself for ten minutes at least before I can drift off.

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