The design of the PrannaTimer

The PrannaTimer has been a lifeline to me.  The project has been fascinating and fun, and it’s kept me in touch with the Dharma and sitting meditation by virtue of it’s very existence.

I fell in love the Dharma through zen literature and stories, then again on my first meditation retreat. The first time I fell in love with the Dharma had to do with the possibility of Enlightenment and the second with the realization that this was the way to it!

Sitting in retreat meant sitting at home; at least some. At least for a while. Sitting at home meant keeping track of the sitting times. A timer was needed. The timer idea occurred. The materials, a stick of incense, a hammer, and a singing bowl, were close at hand.  And it worked. And I cleaned up the design a little and I used it.  I refined it from a hammer on a piece of string, through it’s shift to an incline plane with a bearing, and on through designs that included removable incense trays, whip-wrapped sticks for beautiful tones, attention to details and polished wood finishes. I made them on my $100 Craigslist woodworking bench and sold them to meditators around the world. I give the plans for free so anyone who wants one can make it. I’ve begun a guest artist program, where others can make and sell the timers through the site. It’s a tiny industry, but it’s a great mission.

All the while, my wish for the project was to offer the wonderful function of the timers to others, so that they may sit in stillness and silence without a trace of worry about the time; so that they could delight in the pure pleasant tone of the timers as they sounded. Imagine offering a product that would be used in such an intimate way — right there in the presence of someone’s meditation practice; so close they are bathed in it’s smell, held in it’s silence, and awakened by it’s sound.

And these wishes and these timers kept me connected to the practice when life may have otherwise wandered. My little timer business kept me busy, and my connection to meditation was kept alive.  Using the timers means sitting, after all. My three foundations for PrannaTimer, in order, are: using the timer, building the timers, distributing the timers.  And each is it’s own whole story.