Mindful breathing practice

What are some tools that can help us remember to breathe with awareness, during the ordinary events of the day?

“Mindfulness bells” are occurrences in everyday life – sounds, sights, actions, places – that we can use to remind us to pause, notice, and breathe. For example, I set the intention to use the sound of incoming email as a mindfulness bell. Every time my email in-box pings, the sound reminds me to pause, feel my body sitting in the chair, and feel the breath. This sound becomes my mindfulness bell.

Why bother? Because it’s a way of arriving in the present moment and seeing what’s actually happening now. To notice where my mind is wandering, what I’ve been planning or revisiting, what emotion might be present. The practice also puts the spotlight on our impulses or reactivity (…new email! must read it!) and perhaps choose to respond differently (…breathe now, read later…). There’s freedom in that awareness.

Every time we get back in touch with ourselves, the conditions become favorable for us to encounter life in the present moment. (Thich Nhat Hanh, “Bells of Mindfulness,” in Peace is Every Step)


  1. Catie says:

    Thanks for the great tip. I’m going to try to use the email “ding” as a mindfulness reminder. I see a potential side effect here…maybe I’ll see the email arrival from a different perspective. Instead of thinking, “ugh, another email,” my thought just might be “yeah, a break and maybe a great opportunity awaits me!” Well, maybe not everytime, but there is hope!

  2. Rachel says:

    Thanks for your comment, Catie! Let us know how it goes.

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