My Singing Bowls teacher says the bowls hold a special power, and once they enter your life, you will see great expansion and change occur. My own path and relationship with the bowls definitely proves there is something to his statement. Although I encountered them years ago, and then completely lost sight of them for a long time, they were always somewhere in my mind. I knew one day I will be using them myself in my own practices.
I first encountered Tibetan Singing Bowls in 2007, when I was in college, living in Belgium. I studied Eastern Religions and Theology, and would participate in many workshops and special meditation and yoga events at the time. There was a cool German girl, traveling through Europe and playing singing bowls at concerts, and she stopped by our school to give a few workshops and events. My college dorm was actually inside a 16th-century gothic castle, and she said the place held a lot of energies from times past, so she came to clean my room with sound vibration. On the evenings, all the college kids, teachers, and people living in the area would get together in our community hall, lay on the floor, and listen to her play for an hour or more.
I was hooked from the start! I loved the bowls and the sound they magically created! I loved everything she told me about her journey, from meeting a boyfriend who lived in Tibet and brought the bowls home with him, to her traveling lifestyle, to all the special powers the bowls had and the ways she used them. I purchased her CD, and unfortunately lost it to my mom, who as a therapist quickly snagged it to play to her clients during treatment. I can’t recall the exact amount of time she spent with us, it felt like weeks, and during each concert, I fell deeper and deeper into meditation on the healing sound and wanted to hold on to the feeling for as long as I could.
Well, the German girl left, and years passed till my next encounter with the singing bowls. This time it was the crystal kind, in a yoga studio in Miami, and I again remembered just how awesome this whole process is and how I would love to enjoy more of it. I would scout for bowls from time to time (they are not that easy to come by), but they were always pretty pricy and I didn’t take the plunge to actually buy them.
Fast forward to early 2015, I had just moved to the San Francisco Bay, and I discovered a friend of mine from college years, Sandra, was in town with her boyfriend. I haven’t seen her in about seven or eight years, and I was very excited to see her, as we shared a lot of memories together. She is from Mexico City, and she was traveling with her American boyfriend, who is a tibetan singing bowls teacher and distributor. Well, what a surprise!
The thing is, we both met that German girl years ago, and we both fell in love with singing bowls. It was such a surreal experience, seeing her after so many years and learning she now plays the bowls, manages a singing bowls shop in Mexico, and holds workshops and retreats with her boyfriend, a well known teacher and distributor.
Before you know it (seriously, about 9 days later), I was on a plane to Mexico to attend a singing bowls workshop myself! My teacher Geoffrey Torkington of the Elephant Bowl seemed very connected with the bowls on a deeper level, and although I knew him for a short time, I was sure he will pass a lot of insight and knowledge onto me.
The workshop consisted of 1 evening concert on a Friday, and two full days of work over the weekend. I am not the one to think I know everything about anything after a weekend workshop, but I have to say I was pleasantly surprised at just how much knowledge and experience we received about the bowls in a short period of time!
There is much more to the bowls than meets the eye (or ear). They have a rich history and can be used in so many different ways, and to cure, transform, or benefit on many levels.
Here is why you should give Tibetan Singing Bowls a try:
Sound healing therapy
It has been scientifically proven through numerous studies that sounds affect our mood and our consciousness. And I am one of those people who do not need scientific experiments to confirm something I already know and can experience for myself. Sound affects us tremendously. From playing gentle music to unborn babies, to using sound as a method to heal neurotic disorders, sound vibrations are all-powerful! As someone who studied mantras, and ancient Sanskrit as part of my Eastern Religions degree, as well as a yoga instructor, I have first hand experience in just how powerful sound can be, and how sacred vibrations affect us.
The word mantra comes from two Sanskrit roots, manas which means mind, and tra or trayate which means to liberate, or to protect (there are other translations, but this is what I have been taught). Therefore, mantra is a tool to positively affect the mind. We use the simple root mantra, om in almost every yoga class in every studio, to begin and/or end a practice on a high note. I feel the Tibetan singing bowls create a sound vibration very similar to a mantra. You can physically feel the vibration when you play the bowls, and it is very strong, steady and can gradually increase or decrease. I find that the singing bowls simply generate high frequency sounds corresponding to those of the mantras. And just like after hearing or chanting mantras, I feel similar effects of peace, calm, harmony after experiencing singing bowls. I can see that healing with Tibetan singing bowls is becoming more and more popular all over the world.
A very long and rich tradition
Tibetan singing bowls have been in existence for thousands of years, and I for one am a sucker for all things that have a rich history. I do like innovation, do not get me wrong, but when it comes to things pertaining to our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual wellbeing, I am all for tradition and ancient knowledge and practices. I believe many wonderful cultures, and specially Oriental one’s, hold keys to a lot of problems we experience today. For me, going back to basics, back to nature is often the answer. The Tibetan singing bowls are hand made from specific metal and with specific tools and skills, and have been used in meditation, healing and more for a very long time. Their sound is pure and raw (no pun intended). When something has such a rich, and maybe a bit mystical history, as we have lost a lot of information about them today, I am always intrigued in it’s benefits and want to at least explore it.
The bowls are very versatile on many levels.
First of all, you can play with only one or with one hundred of them, and create a whole concert. (My teacher does recommends a set of 5 to be a minimum to generate enough variety in notes and vibrations.) They are big and small, heavy and light, with a great range of sound, vibration, and depth. Each bowl can be played in at least three different ways, it can be sung or tapped, and different sticks will produce a different sound. They can be tapped on the outside edge or the inside.
You can play the bowls for a few minutes, like I sometimes do during savasana in my yoga classes, or you can do full-on lengthy concerts. I believe, and have learned, that even a 15 minute session will bear fruit and produce positive results on one’s mood, emotions and health.
You can have private or group sessions. In private sessions, you can place bowls close to the head, surrounding the body, or actually on the body itself. You can even give yourself a self-massage by playing the bowls on your own body.
The bowls can be used to energize water (as one of the above pictures shows), and it can be similarly used to bring energy or prana (life force) to food or space. The bowls are very powerful tools to clean a home or a room of negative, stale or conflicted energies.
From simple mood changer, to full-on healing techniques, the bowls can transform the vibration of the physical and the metaphysical body.
The energy of the bowls is very powerful and it surely affects everyone who hears it. The more prepared you are to receive the sound healing, the more effect they will have on you. In most therapies or concerts, the teacher will prepare the subject(s) with a few simple breathing, meditation or yoga practices, and then the bowls are usually received laying down in savasana (corpse pose in yoga). One should make sure they are comfortable, warm and relaxed, and it is advised to have one’s eyes closed as well.
How to try Singing Bowls for yourself?
Find someone who is already a singing bowls teacher, therapist or player. Check with your local yoga studios, one of the instructors may know a person or be a singing bowls player themselves! You can check your local meet-ups (on meetup.com) for Singing Bowls, sound healing, meditation etc. You can reach out my teacher Geoffrey Torkington and take one of his workshops, or even buy bowls for yourself! And if you are in the San Francisco Bay Area, give one of my events a go!