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This four-part, bell sound meditation is a short guided practice led by Arthur Zajonc. For our (overdue) weekend exercise, take these ten minutes to try this contemplative meditation. Then, reflect on your experience and share your thoughts with us:

  1. How did the sound of the bell help you focus your attention?
  2. Did you find that paying close attention allowed you to “let go” and be openly aware?
  3. How did/didn’t the voice of a guide help you in this exercise?

At Amherst College’s the Center for Contemplative Mind in Society, you can find other guided meditations and Zajonc’s five-minute introduction to the bell sound meditation you heard above. Here, he describes this unfamiliar state of open awareness with a lyrical passage from the Tao Te Ching:

“Do you have the patience to wait ‘til your mud settles and the water is clear? Can you remain unmoving ‘til the right action arises by itself? The master doesn’t seek fulfillment. Not seeking, not expecting, she is present and can welcome all things.”

Updated: 2010.07.14 with stricken language.

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Before I give you my experience with the bell, please allow me to make a suggestion: Given the latest American violence, and having just seen the film it came from, (Bobby) and being deeply moved by it for several reasons, I want to ask you to play the last 7-10 minutes of Robert Kennedy's voice-over closing out the movie with an appeal for Americans to be aware of violence and be responsible for its ending. I copied it onto a digital recorder. If you will send me an email address that will allow me to send you an audio attachment, I will do so, so you can decide whether you want to go to the original. He speaks to us now in a profound way. And now to the "BELL":

I was especially moved with the "inner gesture" at the end of the meditation, followed by a dedication or intention that the fruits of it go out to all people. This is what I wish now, and this is what I intend. Thank you.

Upon the ringing of the bell, there was a fluttering goosebump feeling on the left back side of my brain. This bell sound is the same sound upcountry, where there are fields of open pastures, tall trees with the wind blowing this bell will sound throughout the day.
What an interesting bell sound that took my vision up high souring over the tops of these trees and around the pastures, and back around to where I stood still listening to this bell ring. Very healing what a delight . Thank you , thank you for this wonderful memory.

As the great Bob Newhart put it: "Just, just stop it!"

Excellent Meditation! Is this available (reasonably-priced :) on iTunes?


1. I loved the bell sound and it really helped me clarify my thoughts and clear my mind the sense of space expansive space came to mind.
2. Yes and no. I did feel paying attention to my breath helped me to see how things are just passing in time. And yet sometimes as I focused on the breath i would be carried away by the attention on a particular thought.
3. The voice of the guide was helpful in the beginning and was all I needed to focus. the closing sound of the bell was like a glass of refreshingly cold water at the end of a long run.

I found it helpful. I have tried many times and different programs of assistance in meditation. I appreciate the idea of 10 mins. There's less pressure and I figure, I can do anything for 10 mins.
I'll keep this email with this bell meditation and use it for future assistance.
Thank you for this treat! I strongly believe in meditation but have not disciplined myself in to doing it on a regular basis. This bell excise did help!

This meditation really appeals to me.
Is it possible to get a copy without the background noises?
My computer, IPad and iPhone all have a 'buzz' in the background and, at one stage, voices.
Many thanks.

That was a lovely meditation. Thank you very much for posting this.

The vibration of the bell allowed me to center my focus, the exercise of remembering the sound accessed a beautiful and un-describable mindful awareness. I have tried guided meditation before with great results, the voice is essential in this exercise to experience the full range of experience.

I have chronic pain. Meditation seems to help. Thank you.

His voice is mesmerizing. My attention was focus on the bell because of it's beautiful tone. It was easy to remeber. My mind was easly gently focused. Let go and be aware was sitting in the back part of my brain. Was a nice meditation.

because a one-time 10 minute exercise should have profound effect on us? Really?

Effective. Usable. But the background noises of doors closing , etc were a little " distracting" yet the practice itself caused me to focus on the meditation and NOT the " other sounds". Enjoyable and usable practice.

A beautiful, peaceful meditation...I could really connect to the bell sound and appreciated the soothing voice and directions...Spent ten minutes in a state of real prayer...Thanks

I am a singer so music is a great part of my life and I was amble to 'visualize" the ringing of the bell long after it was rung. I enjoyed the guided meditation and I welcome more. Much Love

This is great to center self. The bell and focus on it allowed me to let go, and the voce is helpful since there are key stages (I.e. listen/remember/echo.

Thank You!

I can only imagine the use of bells is quite ancient in so many cultures which in itself provides ample reason to explore.

When letting go of the bell sound and opening to awareness, at first I had a very focused, high alert awareness. Then this didn't feel good so I brought my awareness to a peaceful more relaxed awareness. I noticed the difference between these states. This was very insightful.
Thank you for this exercise.

Zajonc could speak 1/3 to 1/2 less for my taste.

I had an amazing thing happen when a bell was hit by a door and the sound was very very loud. I thought I had stroke it was so loud, (I had a stroke 3 years previously). After 20 minutes my brain returned to a state of absolute clarity, like all the worries, depression, self esteem issues vanished. I would like to research this matter further as I believe that this could lead to a treatment for depression sufferers. The bell needs to be so very loud and, I think also un-expected. There maybe issues relating to ear drums but the effect was so profound I feel compelled to research this and find somebody who understands what may have happen and how it maybe possible to repeat in a control environment.

Ahhhh. Really lovely. It got me in touch with looking at my cancerous tumor as my teacher!

I think your spoken introduction is a distraction. I kept thinking when will this guy stop talking and let me listen to the bell. The bell is it's own explanation and needs no introduction. I have found other sites with more bell and less talk.

The sound of the bell helped me to focus. I felt it was very grounding. It helped with centering for a meditation. I did not find his voice distracting. His voice was more like a guide, it was not meant to be a silent meditation.
Paying close attention helped with my breathing more than that of "letting go".

an awesome experience. the guiding words were very helpful as was the bell sound. attention to the bell sound is extremely helpful in stopping the mind's chatter.

I wish I could download the bell meditation onto my i-tunes so I could listen to it whenever I wish.

Listening to the bells was helpful for my focussing. I looked forward to the voice to guide me. I felt more relaxed afterward, and even before the suggestion, I felt a gratitude that this was available to me. I like the idea of sending the benefits to all. xo

Focusing on the bell took my consciousness away from my quotidien concerns for a few moments. However after doing this exercise several times I find the voice too intrusive and often superfluous. I will likely mimic the exercise with times chimes using the mindfulness all