Tibetan singing bowls are an ancient tool for healing and meditation. The history of Tibetan singing bowls dates back to 10th century B.C, and they have been used by Buddhist monks for at least 2500 years, making them one of the oldest known tools for meditation practice and ceremonial work.
Among the high Lamas of Tibet the ritual use of singing bowls still remains a closely guarded secret – a heritage reserved only for acknowledged masters of sound. It is believed that the knowledge of sound carries with it a great power and responsibility. Therefore, the Lamas would only use singing bowls for themselves and never in public.
It has been said that Tibetan singing bowls produce “the sound of nothingness”, or “Om”, considered by Buddhists and Hindus to be the primordial sound of creation.
The veil of mystery that surrounds the ritual use of singing bowls in Tibet has been slowly lifting, and in the past 20 years or so, more and more knowledge about their use has started spreading out to the western world.
HOW TO USE
Tibetan singing bowls come in various tones or keys, corresponding to the 7 Chakras in the body. Certain bowls may affect all of the Chakras while others only affect some. Generally the lower tone bowls have an affect on the root and sacral Chakras, medium tones on the solar plexus and heart Chakras, and higher notes on the upper Chakras.
The bowl can be either struck like a bell or played by rubbing the rim of the bowl in a steady clockwise circular motion using a wooden, and/or suede mallet.
Bowls can be placed directly on the body where needed, where they can rest preferably on a level surface. Holding a bowl on the palm of your hand, and as level as possible, is a common way to work with a bowl. They can also be placed on the floor, a few inches away from the body. My personal preference is to use a bowl directly on the body where healing may be needed.
Placing some water in a bowl will change the tone and may produce interesting geometric patterns on the surface of the water when the bowl is played.
A more advanced technique is toning or harmonizing with the bowl by singing vowels from aaaa to oooo, or eeee to oooo, into the rim of the bowl when the sound is activated. To do this, you would hold the bowl at 90 degrees where the rim was struck. This technique reveals another unique sounding quality of the bowl, and reverberates the body cavities. Good for clearing the head and sinuses!
Playing a Tibetan singing bowl produces a rich variety of harmonics and overtones. These tones induce alpha waves in the brain, causing instant relaxation and calm. Our normal waking brain state produces beta waves. In alpha wave state thinking is slowed down, and if you focus on the sound long enough, you can more easily enter into a meditative state. Once your mind is in this highly relaxed alpha wave state, the body can then receive healing through the frequencies, as the sound travels where it is needed in the body. The complex array of harmonics produced by Tibetan bowls reach beyond the busy monkey mind, affecting the sympathetic nervous system, and vibrating every cell in the body.
In a normal waking state we may consciously desire healing yet subconsciously resist it, and therefore block any healing from taking place. However, sound reaches us on an emotional and spiritual level, bypassing any mental resistance barriers.
Good general advise on using the bowls is to feel the sound, rather than analyze it. This will allow the sound to penetrate and healing to take place. The more you let go and allow the sound to travel, the more you will benefit.
A PERSONAL EXPERIMENT
For the purpose of gathering some firsthand evidence for this article, I decided to experiment by playing a root Chakra bowl placed on top of my left knee, that has beginning arthritis and has been in constant pain for nearly a year. I played the bowl on my knee for 7 days straight, for about 10 minutes at a time before going to bed. Not only did I find myself sleeping more soundly, but the pain level on my knee has also been reduced by almost half! I will continue experimenting with the few different bowls I have, rotating various bowls on my knee.
I have found Tibetan singing bowls to be very grounding and effective at healing various physical ailments. There are many ways to work with Tibetan singing bowls. Whether you are interested in using them for meditation, healing the mind and body, balancing the Chakras, or doing ceremonial work – endless discoveries and unique sounds await in the world of singing bowls!
All images by LGPhoto.