In Buddhist practice, singing bowls are used as a support for meditation, trance induction and prayer.
Singing bowls used for thousands of years, are a type of bell, rather than hanging inverted or attached to a handle, the singing bowls sit with the bottom surface resting. The sides and rim of singing bowls vibrate to produce sound.
Calming sound is one of the most ancient energy shifting tools, a singing bowl is a wonderful tool for meditation, stress reduction and holistic healing. Placed in your home or studio to awaken your spiritual practice or gift it to a friend to pass on your wishes for their ongoing peace and joy in life. Singing bowls are great to use at the beginning of classes to bring yourself into the present moment and also at the end of Savasana to bring your students back into the room and relaxing into the body. But how do they work? Is there any science behind the many benefits?
WHY ARE SINGING BOWLS GOOD FOR MEDITATION?
Singing bowls have a long history from use in East Asian cultures and have been used for much more than wellness in traditional settings and spiritual practices. Many sound therapy practitioners, identify singing bowls as "Himalayan" due to potential Buddhist prayer and meditation roots.
There are so many well-documented studies of the benefits of meditation, from deep relaxation and muscle regeneration, to relieve pain in the joints, muscles and shoulders, to ease pain related to sciatica, the digestive system, headaches and migraine or spine injuries, to improve circulation, release tensions and lower blood pressure and stress! Starting a new routine may be tough — especially in the modern world we live in and when starting a home space, tucked away from studios and instructors. Not every meditation space looks the same; my space is opposite my window in the corner of my bedroom, practically in my wardrobe, but it is calm, the view out of my window is so beautiful, I have a cushion ready, some mala beads for when I am struggling to switch off and my trusty singing bowl. There are a few different theories have been proposed to explain why singing bowls might be beneficial. Such theories suggest that:
The vibrations of the bowls may affect the mind and body.
The sounds from playing impact brain waves in order to induce relaxation.
They may induce the same psychological effects and benefits as listening to music.
The benefits of listening to the bowls may be related to the ancient practice of sound therapy. Used by indigenous cultures throughout the world for thousands of years, sound therapy involves pulsing sounds, drumming, and singing for ceremonial, spiritual, and health purposes. The singing bowl is connecting in this umbrella and benefits including lowering stress levels, helping with insomnia, lowering blood pressure, reducing depression, pain relief and harmonising the body.
If you are interested in deepening your practice with signing bowls, a sound therapist would be a wonderful route to go through, working with a professional who has the knowledge and understanding of specific energy channels and how sounds benefits is a great therapy. Sound therapy can be quite intense, during a session with a professional, bowls might be placed around your body, on your body, or in different locations around the room. They are used to connect and heal through vibrational sound and come in a variety of sizes, smaller to medium-sized bowls are often more appropriate for beginners, while larger singing bowls may be suited to more advanced users.
HOW TO PLAY SINGING BOWLS?
To have your own Singing Bowl is a great introduction to how you feel with sound, how vibration effects your body and calms your mind, they can be fun to experiment with at meditation practice, small to medium sizes bowls are a good place to start, to play you simply firmly press the accompanying mallet in a circular motion against the bowl's outside edge or rim. When you hear a bright, clear tone, you can slow down the motion. Use your full arm to make the motion, rather than just rotating your wrist.
You can also make the same circular motion against the outside belly of the bowl. Additionally, you can gently strike the bowl before beginning the circular motion. I personally like to strike clearly at the beginning of yoga practice three times to bring me into the present, then just before moving into meditation I would play the bowl again to slow the body and bring myself in focus before Savasana. Also it is nice to have fun with your practice, creatively experiment with sound and how it makes you feel at home, try playing with meditation, using mala beads, with chanting mantras and other meditation practices. Singing bowls are a beautiful way to bring yourself into the present (and forget about how many chores or that you left soap off the shopping list!).
ARE THERE ANY RISKS OR SIDE EFFECTS USING SINGING BOWLS?
Though most people enjoy using sound and vibration in meditation and as a calming therapy, some who suffer from headaches may not enjoy the experience also we advise those who are pregnant to only connect with a sound professional for advice. Those who suffer from epilepsy should not use singing bowls, in some instances, noise and vibrations may trigger seizures. So better to stay away from sound triggers and only talk to a professional Sound Therapist.
But for those who find it difficult to bring themselves into meditation practice, or looking to add other elements to their practice, singing bowls can be a joy to use. Experiment with the many tools and techniques we have to bring more calm into your practice and play, creativity is great - just show up on your mat or cushion and have fun!