Since I attended
a mindfulness retreat
with Thich Nhat Hanh
in Colorado the summer of 2012,
I’ve been using an etool
to help me with this ancient
spiritual practice.
I downloaded (for free)
a Mindfulness Bell app
on my smart phone.
I can set it to ring its beautiful tone
as often as I’d like.
I committed to take three deep,
conscious breaths
and think about nothing
when I hear it,
to re-center myself
in that place deep within
where my truest Self,
my soul
and where I connect
with the Force of Life and Goodness
that also dwells there.
Honestly, sometimes
I do this
and sometimes I don’t.
I’m grateful for the pause
that connects
and sometimes
it’s an irritant because I’m
right in the middle
of a thought or sentence,
written or spoken.
If I’m with people
who know me well,
when it rings
they hear it too,
know what it is
and we pause together—
silently, knowingly—
(Many of them have downloaded the mindfulness bell
to their cell phones.)
Sometimes we laugh aloud
because the bells’ timing seems
to punctuate the moment
most appropriately,
as if our electronic machines were involved in the conversation,
which, of course, they aren’t; still,
the timing brings welcome chuckles.

I notice this morning,
after about 18 months
of this practice,
an insight:
It seems I have evolved,
a little more.
Maizey, the aged dog
who, this colder winter,
has become a farm house dog,
in addition to being a farm dog,
often rises from her pillow
and comes to where I am
and stands beside me, silently,
asking to be petted.
Or, if she can reach the laptop
where I’m writing,
she hangs her soft jowel
over the keyboard.
Most astonishingly,
I am happy to stop
whatever it is
I’m reading or writing—
no matter how absorbed I am—
and rub her jaw, her head, her neck,

Touching a warm, soft dog face,
looking into her moist, brown eyes,
creates a connection—
of tenderness,
and out,
one craving soul
to another.

Perhaps it’s a sign of the mad intensity—
and yet, the creative possibilities—
of our time
that it took a mindfulness bell app
to train me.
And perhaps it’s a sign
of the Force of Life and Goodness
forever operating in the universe,
that a very patient, deaf, old dog
shows me
who I am
I am
in this moment.