Ring The Bells That Still Can Ring – Soul Food From Within

Ring the bells that still can ring Forget your perfect offering There is a crack in everything That’s how the light gets in – Leonard Cohen

It’s that time of year, ‘outside’ us at least.
How is it you going for you?
And who are you in the midst of it?

If we’re not mindful, the rush and clamour of its demands and expectations can move us further away from a state of peace, goodwill and great joy than almost any other regular event!

Shifting the focus internally, this month’s posting offers two useful tools to reclaim your connection with your deeper self so you can more easily find and ring the bells that still can ring. I and others have found these helpful, simple and practical (and sometimes even instant) in opening the moment into something extraordinary and unexpected – in a good way, thank goodness.

Holiday times may not feel like fun for you at all, especially if there are family tensions or rekindled feelings of loss or aloneness, which can certainly open up cracks of all kinds.

First a few simple ways we can ring bells:
⦁ That old thing – gratitude, for the big and small things in our lives. A good habit for starting the day. And it will also alter your energy and inner strength as you deal with things.
⦁ Ring bells of action – small actions that offer and celebrate your gifts, dreams and contributions. Who do you already contribute to, and how? Breathe in this affirmation.
⦁ Who contributes to you, and how? Have you told them?
(See below for links that may inspire more bells.)


So, who are you today – who do you think and feel you are?
And who are you really?

Usually these questions brings out a list of feelings, job descriptions, roles, goals, to do lists, achievements, values, life challenges we live with etc. All of these are ways to think and talk about ourselves and mostly we live inside the busy life that these mental and emotion conversations describe. Somewhat disconcertingly, many of these conversations-in-action are running on automatic. And we tend to think that that’s who we are!!

In Voice Dialogue we call these automatic ways of being Primary Selves: ‘This is just who I am and how I do things.’ Actually, we can live entirely in this box. Our lives will mostly run OK but while these ways of being certainly may describe our experience of ourselves in life, there can be a same old same old feeling about it which lacks aliveness and freedom. And there may not be a lot of peace or joy in all that busyness. We can become identified with that conversation-in-action as ‘me’.

There seem to be many layers of these automatic habits – but each time we wake up to one in a moment of awareness, we have a blessed instant of freedom to make a choice that enhances that moment. In voice dialogue we say that at these moments, the Aware Ego comes present – the part of us that can make these choices. So that is tool number one:

1. Enhancing the Moment

Each time you become aware of how mental or emotional stress is taking over, stop for 20 seconds (long time, eh?) and:
⦁ Breathe deeply into your belly and deeply out again. Breathing is amazing.
⦁ Then ask yourself: what do I need right now and how can I help myself with that? This is not about being ‘a hero in your own life’ to paraphrase Leonard Cohen. It’s about some little thing that someone who knows you well (you!) can do for you. Just because it will help.
⦁ Next ask yourself: what is one thing I can now choose that will enhance this moment? Look within, or out and around you with fresh eyes and see what’s possible. Look at the people with you. What bells can you ring?

Stop acting so small. You are the universe in ecstatic motion.
– Jalal al-Din Rumi

There is some kiss we want with our whole lives,
the touch of spirit on the body.
Seawater begs the pearl to break its shell.
And the lily, how passionately
it needs some wild darling! At
night, I open the window and ask
the moon to come and press its
face against mine. Breathe into
me. Close the language-door and
open the love window. The moon
won’t use the door, only the window.

From Soul of Rumi – Translation by Coleman Barks


Now for the second tool. Below is a modified version of the Who Is Here? exercise presented by Arjuna Ardagh in his book The Translucent Revolution. Perhaps it will help you to step beyond the experiencing, busy self so you can be refreshed in the moment and open up to a deeper, calmer place.

Not curing the self, but releasing one’s grip on it, that was the solution.
– Leonard Cohen.

When we step back in this aware way, we loosen our grip on the drama and content of our lives. That’s where the peace is: beyond the endless whirl of inner and outer action.

A while back when I was being facilitated in voice dialogue, I connected with a part of me that still seemed to be me, but was completely beyond the drama and action. From there I could see, like a cloud, the buzz of activity that was my personality and its 100% absorption in my life: all the automatic doing, striving, creating, organising, feeling, thinking and relating that was involved in the unquestioned momentum of ‘being Kris.’ Yet in this other place I was in the quietness beyond the drama of all that. Very nice! And somewhat illuminating.

There are many techniques to help us get beyond this hive of personality and its drivenness to sort, solve, achieve, to get it right in our life according to the rules and definitions our primary selves live by. For example, mindfulness, yoga, relaxation techniques, meditation, walks on the beach. They can all do the trick in varying degrees, if we make the time to do them with our full attention.

2. Who Is Here? (my adapted version)

To do this, give yourself 10-15 minutes of uninterrupted time with no phones or people around. (Possible, but may take major life alteration for some).

Right now, sitting where you are, take a few moments to close your eyes and feel your body. Settle yourself and come fully into this moment. What thoughts and feelings do you notice? Who is experiencing those? Who is the ‘me’ that is noticing things, feeling things? What is this thing you have called ‘me’?

Now notice the sounds around you. What can you hear? Just listen. Now shift your attention to the one who is hearing them. Does that have a sound? What is that self?

Now pay attention to sensations. What can you feel in your face, mouth, back, feet and so on . . . Can you feel the air passing through your nostrils and moving in your body? Who feels all that? Who is it that ‘has’ this body to experience? Who are you really, beyond that? Feel into this, rather than thinking.

You may have a thought about that – e.g. I am the soul, or I am my core self. Who had that thought? for it is a thought. Then there may be thoughts about those thoughts. Who is aware of those thoughts? Who is beyond those thoughts?

Spend a few more minutes just sitting with and feeling into this inquiry of Who Am I? And then, what happens when you open your eyes and look out again? (Maybe nothing, maybe something. There are no wrong answers! – just experiences.)


Thank you Arjuna. His book contains many useful exercises and also great quotes from a huge range of inspiring souls. This process of inquiry of “Who Am I?” was deeply developed and lived by the Indian master Ramana Maharshi whose beautiful face (worth a Google) says a lot about his inner state.

If you love inspiring poetry, you might like to link up with Ivan Granger’s wonderful website Poetry Chaikhana. You can sign up to be sent wonderful poems from all eras and cultures and he also has some great poetry compilation books available which you can purchase on line. And he is a treasure who loves his work. www.poetry-chaikhana.com

YOGA classes: for Sunshine Coast dwellers who want the benefits of strength, flexibility and a relaxed mind and body, the Palmwoods Yoga Hub has some fantastic teachers offering a range of classes.

One of my favourite gifts to humankind is Tara Brach who combines body, mind and heart beautifully in her work as a Buddhist meditation teacher and psychologist. Her videos are accessible to all and always inspiring- and comforting.


Call 0408 226 353 or 07 5442 3676 to book a free 20 minute consultation or a face-to-face, Skype or phone session. From outside Australia call +61 408 226 353 or +61 7 5442 3676


Copyright Kris Hines 2016