Have you ever wondered as to how strong the power of vibration can be? Today, it seems we tend to neglect that power, especially the spiritual side of it.
However, some ancient cultures, in particular the Tibetan spiritual tradition, were certainly aware of the vibrational powers of their ritual music. In Tibet,
their spiritual music was produced by the traditional Tibetan instruments - tingshas, singing bowls, horns and bells.
In this article we will try to shed some light on the vibrational healing powers of the singing bowls of Tibet - that is, to the extend we are able to do so from our current perspective. If you are already familiar with the powers of the bowls and are looking to buy one, take a look at this review.
Unfortunately, today we possess rather limited knowledge with respect ot the origin, history and use of Singing Bowls in the various religious and spiritual practices of Tibetan Buddhism and Shamanism. Some say the origin of these instruments can be traced back to India, indicating the time period of the previous Buddha, when the singing bows were used as praying bowls. Some portion of the esoteric teachings has been lost in the turbulent past times of the Tibetan people. Historically, for the enlightened Lamas and Tibetan monks, the sound of the Bowls could have meant so many things. This sound was understood as a means of transferring teaching, spiritual energy, and even as a helping instrument for getting in touch with the Void. We see here how deep one should be able to go and perceive things that lie beyond the tangible and melodic sound of these wondrous instruments.
The knowledge about the singing bowls is still preserved in the memory of some older Tibetan monks. It is said that there are only three original singing bowls that are kept in Tibet. These original bowls are capable of producing sound that gives teaching about emptiness, broadness, about the four Noble Truths, and ,during their singing, even a transmission of Buddha's action and energy can happen. The sounds of these singing bowls are very special and of incredible quality. By playing them, we can get Buddha's teaching, and even get enlightened. For more details, you may want to check the entire interview with Lama Lobsang Leshe, as interviewed by Rain Gray here.
Indeed, it appears that the Singing Bowls of Tibet have been and still are surrounded with an aura of mystery and secrecy. They used to be kept in lamaseries where they were
utilized in secret rituals for deepening the meditation ability of the advanced students. Other uses included out-of-body traveling, astral and mental projections, and even
visiting the other planets of our solar system and contacting their spirits.
It is believed that with the help of the Tibetan Singing Bowls the experienced masters were able to get in touch with the most sacred spiritual centar of our Planet - Shambhala. It is speculated that, very much like the sound travels from the center of the bowl toward the outer world and back, the experienced meditators listening to their ritual sound and singing the ritual songs were able to project themselves and travel the world without having to leave the actual physical location.
However, these secret rites were not performed often. The proper way of playing the bowls has never been given to the public, nor are these sessions opened for everyone, including here also the less experienced monks. This is no surprise. We can think of a number of reasons, but those familiar with the esoteric spiritual traditions know how great the power of the sound can be.
With the rise of the new-age consciousness and with the spread of the internet, we are now able to purchase Tibetan Singing Bowls and other spiritual instruments more easily. Thus, we have the opportunity to look into the features of these wondrous musical objects on our own, and ultimately, use them in our healing and meditative practices.
To be perfectly hones, I don't believe I have even started to explore the immense field of spiritual practice with Tibetan Bowls. The real understanding of the impact the singing
bowls can have on our human energy field requires experimenting with their sound, vibration, and acoustical phenomena. There are more than 50 different varieties of Tibetan Bowls.
The ancient technique of bowl production seems to have been lost for quite some time now. Various sources speak of up to 15 different metals used in alloying. There are speculations
that one of the metals used for bowl manufacturing was meteorite iron. Knowing how expensive iron nickel meteorite can be on the rare minerals market, it is not likely that the singing bowls we can purchase today are made out of it.
I was told that my singing bowl originated in Nepal. It was hand-beaten Tibetan bowl, which was important for me. I think the skill and mastery of the person who has manufactured it are of crucial importance for the quality of the sound, as opposed to the machine made perfectly shaped products (which was the case with my second bowl). When I first saw it, it was more or less obvious that it was hand beaten. Of course, what I couldn't posible verify was its composition, that is, how many different metals were acutally used in its making. Here is a photo of my first Tibetan bowl:
Its weights around 21 oz, and has a diameter of about 7.5 inches.It possesses quite good resonance, and produces nice quality of sound, but not at first try (see below). It could be played by either tapping with the playing stick or by running it around the rim of the bowl. You can actually produce a very nice sound just by hitting the bowl (do not try this, however, if you have a crystal bowl - it may break down). The second method also produces a resonance, and that's where the real spiritual powers of the bowl lie.
My second bowl was a nice cast bronze bowl, possessing an etched design on the side. Its interior was decorated by a seated Buddha and other symbols. It had a perfect rim, and it was obvious that this Tibetan bowl was not hand made. In this case the resonance was much easier to produce, even with the supplied (not good quality) hard wood stick. Here is the photo of that bowl:
When I first got in touch with my singing bowls, I had problems producing the right type of sound. In the following, there are some hints with regards to the common problems and dilemmas that can occur with your Tibetan Singing bowl.
There are several problems we can face when first trying to produce sound on them. The first and most obvious is the rattling noise that usually comes out. It can be due to many reasons, but the most probable are:
The Tibetan Bowl shown above has no smooth surface. So these problems are even more pronounced there. The first playing stick that came along with it was totally inoperable, as the
sound it produced was rather awful. It was too thin and and also rather short and could not match the size of the bowl itself, but my impression was that also the wood material was
improper. It was not until I purchased another - a hardwood playing stick with a sude surface - that my problems were solved.
Special care is needed when choosing a bowl that has had a history of previous usage. In other world, if you are purchasing an old Tibetan bowl, you should be aware that it might have been charged by an experienced master or a magician, for certain purposes. These bowls are usually difficult to control. Chances are you will not be able to see or buy them in the first place.
If you are in a position to do so, play the bowl prior to purchasing it. See if you can connect with it. One of the aims in playing the bowl is becoming one with its sound. If you are drawn to its sound, if you feel connected, then it is definitely worth owing it.
The size of the Tibetan bowl is another of elements worth considering. If you are planning to travel a lot and to carry it along then you should not go for the larger and heavier bowls.
Singing bowls can be excellent meditation tools. They bring inner peace, open the mind to new ideas and concepts, promote physical relaxation and stress relief. If you are used to some of the most common meditation techniques, you should know that singing bowls are capable of bringing another quality into your meditation — the sound dimension. Usually when we want to include sound into our meditation session, we play an audio CD or use some other external source. However, this is something entirely different because you produce the sound yourself.
The best way to produce sound with your tibetan singing bowl is to move the mallet in a clockwise direction around the edge of your bowl. Use even pressure as you slowly go around the outside edge and allow the sound volume to be built gradually. While you do that, close your eyes and focus on the sound. At the beginning the sound coming out from your tibetan bowl can serve as a point of concentration and focussing of your attention. You can start with that and be open to see where your meditation will take you from there. The length of your meditation should be between 5 and 10 minutes.
The question of the healing powers of the bowls is not so easy to address. Each individual human being possesses individual energy field, with individual degree of development of the energy centers - chakras. Whether or not the vibration of your singing bowl will be able to resonate with a certain chakra, to heal the corresponding area of the body or to restore the disturbed balance in your auric field is highly individual and subjective issue. I believe, it depends also on your individual spiritual strength, your ability to produce resonant vibrations of good quality and to attune yourself to it.
Despite the above, the Tibetans singing Bowls are increasingly used in healing. People claim to be using one or several bowl strategically placed at or around the body in order to bathe our human auras, that is, the subtle etheric, emotional and metal vehicles in the rich healing tones emanating from the bowl. The beneficial effects are seen on the physical level: in the increased blood circulation, raised life energy, rejuvenation of the skin, and easing the pain. Another alleged healing usage of the bowls is in the transformation of psychic blockades, and suppressed negative experiences from the past.
At the and, let us recall one important rule. Never play your Tibetan Singing Bowl in counter clockwise direction. The proper spiritual direction and selfless direction is the clockwise direction. After all, when our chakras are balanced, opened and healthy, they rotate in this beneficial direction.
Michael; Faulkner says:
Need to help them find the next Lama. I'm an idiot but I have a gift.
Great article, thanks :) It helped me allot understanding my singing bowl which was a gift for me :)
Good luck using your singing bowl, Pavli. They are great for all sorts of spiritual practice, especially for Tibetan singing bowls meditation.
abhishek bhalla says:
Where can I find ceramic bowls and appropriate wand for the same? Are ceramic bowls as powerful as metal ones?
No, I don’t think they are as powerful as the metal singing bowls. If you are in a position to choose, try using the metal ones.
What a perfect website. It answered all my questions and gave me all the information I needed. I'm looking forward to buy my first one.
Glad to be of help Lorraine.
Any tips on how often I should use my tibetan singing bowl?
If you are just starting, I suggest using it 2 times a day for 5 minutes. Later on you can increase the time as you see fit. To me, the duration is not that important, it is more important to practice day in day out, so that a habit may be formed.
Great information about the healing effects of tibetan bowls. Just what I was looking for.
I did not use my bowl for a long time. Now, it refuses to sing. There is only a tin sound produced with no reverberation. How can I solve this?
Many times when I have trouble producing reverberation with my bowl, it turns out that the problem is in the stick, not in the bowl itself. What kind of stick are you using with it?
Mitch Nr, PhD says:
I'm only going to comment on the last paragraph of your commentary. It does not matter which direction you rim the bowl. This 'clockwise' information has circulated for years on the internet. Before Buddhism ever left India, Singing Bowls were played 'counter-clockwise' more than they were clockwise. This is simply a western invention. The 'spin' of the universe is in a 'counter-clockwise' direction, go check the science. Many things in Buddhism do in fact run in a clockwise direction, but this is simply a Buddhist view and does not pertain to anything else or science. In fact the Bonpo who were using Singing Bowls before the Buddhists, were doing everything in a counter-clockwise direction. So it's a perspective, there's no right or wrong here. In relation to the chakras, and also from Vedic commentary (remember this is where the system originated), chakras will spin in both directions depending upon the distribution of 'prana' from or to, the pranamayakosha. So it's 'healthy' and also 'normal' to go in both directions. I wrote an article on Singing Bowls for the Sound Forum in the UK, which you may find useful for your research into Singing bowls: http://www.soundtravels.co.uk/a-Singing_Bowls__Separating_Truth_from_Myth-732.aspx
Thanks for the clarification, Mitch. Very useful indeed.