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Dangers of Singing Bowls

Dangers of Singing Bowls

While there are far more benefits to using a singing bowl than there are disadvantages, it's important, like any other method of treatment or healing, to know when singing bowls should be avoided or their use limited. Before investing in your own personal singing bowl or attending a sound therapy session where singing bowls are used, there are several cautions and warnings to be aware of. 

In this article we answer the following questions:

  •     When should singing bowls be completely avoided?
  •     When should singing bowls avoid certain parts of the body?
  •     When should you limit access to singing bowls?

It is important to keep in mind that a Tibetan singing bowl is not a toy and not just an instrument. It’s a powerful tool for meditation that has been used in religious practices for thousands of years. Singing bowls and their ability to influence our minds and mood should be treated as any other method of healing or medication.

When Should Singing Bowls Be Completely Avoided?

There are certain illnesses, conditions, and circumstances that might require completely avoiding singing bowls or participating in sound therapy where singing bowls are used. If you find that you have one or more of these conditions but are still interested in the healing effects of singing bowls, you should consult your doctor before use. 

Certain neurological disorders will foreclose the use of singing bowls. For example, if you have epilepsy, you should not attend a sound therapy session where singing bowls are used. If you wish to do so, it is necessary to get your doctor’s permission as well as be prescribed the correct anti-epileptic medication. If you have Parkinson’s disease and have a deep brain stimulation device (DBS) to treat your illness, you should not use singing bowls. If you have a neurological disease other than these, please contact your physician to be sure that you can receive sound therapy with singing bowls. 

In addition, singing bowls should not be placed on your body if you have a heart pacemaker, coronary stent, cardiac shunt, artificial heart valves, implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD), metal inserts, metal implants, or metal staples. Placing a vibrating singing bowl on your body if you have any of these inside of you is very dangerous. As the singing bowl is played and the vibrations pass through your body, there is a chance that the vibrations could shake and disturb the metal inside of you, causing it to move or malfunction, which could result in pain or death. 


Source: 
Massage Around the World

You should also avoid singing bowls if you have other clinical disorders such as polyneuropathy or hemiparesis. It may be necessary to also avoid sound therapy with singing bowls if you are currently being medicated for severe depression or anxiety. While singing bowls may help with mild cases of depression, anxiety, and PTSD, it is important to receive permission from your doctor, psychiatrist, or therapist before going forward with sound therapy. 

During your sessions, please keep in mind that singing bowls place people in meditative states that allow individuals to reflect on themselves and their thoughts. If you suffer from mental illness, it may become uncomfortable if the singing bowl aids in bringing out strong emotions or painful memories. After a session, you may feel the need to cry or need a break--that’s okay, it’s all part of the healing process. Take it slow afterwards. 

If receiving sound therapy with singing bowls for things such as PTSD, anxiety, or depression, it is important to find the right teacher--someone who is professional, knowledgeable, and capable of understanding and sympathizing with the trauma that may be resurfaced in your sessions. Reliving trauma can be incredibly difficult so it is important that you expect and prepare yourself for some traumatic experiences to resurface during your sessions. If you are not ready for this type of healing, singing bowls and sound therapy should be avoided until a later time. 

When Should Singing Bowls Avoid Certain Parts of the Body?

Sometimes you can have access to singing bowls but still limit where the bowls are placed on your body. Often, in sound therapy, singing bowls are placed on certain parts of the body. If any of the following applies to you, you may still play or listen to singing bowls but must avoid placing them on your body. 

Some skin disorders and diseases will prevent a person from benefiting from sound therapy when it involves placing singing bowls on the body. In particular, if you have an inflammatory skin disorder, such as hives, psoriasis, eczema or its variant weeping eczema, singing bowls should not be placed on your body or touch your skin. Additionally, singing bowls should not be placed on heavily scarred areas. 

Source: Klook

Certain artery diseases or blood clots will limit where you can place a singing bowl on your body. For example, if you have carotid atherosclerosis, singing bowls should not be placed in the area around the neck. Singing bowls should also not be placed near diseased or clotted veins. In cases of thick vein thrombosis, singing bowls should not be placed on top of the affected vein or near it. 

There are other cases where singing bowls cannot be placed on certain parts of the body. For example, they should not be placed directly on or near acute inflammations, tumors, implants, screws, artificial joints, and inflamed joints and veins. 

When Should You Limit Access To Singing Bowls?

There are certain times or situations where you should limit access to singing bowls. This does not have to mean completely cutting singing bowls out of your life. Instead, these are times when you should either avoid singing bowls for a determined amount of time or only use them for a specific amount of time. 

For example, during pregnancy, singing bowls should not be placed on the body. If you receive sound therapy or are interested in attending a session, and are pregnant, it is important that the bowls are not placed on your body, especially within the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. You may be able to still attend sessions or use a singing bowl while pregnant but you should consult your doctor before playing or hearing a singing bowl. If your doctor approves the use of singing bowls during your pregnancy, it is vital that you do not play the singing bowl too loud near your belly or place the bowl too close to your belly or back. 

If you are not pregnant but do have young children, it may be necessary to limit the use of singing bowls in your home. As children are very curious and might think your singing bowl is a toy, it is important to keep it out of reach or ensure you supervise them while they are playing it. Loud singing bowls can cause damage to hearing if played incorrectly and your child may want to see how loud the singing bowl can be. For the safety of your children, as well as your singing bowl, it would be best to ensure the two remained separated or closely watched when together.

Some illnesses or conditions that may come and go will limit your access to singing bowls. If you are experiencing a fever, have severe inflammation or have open wounds, singing bowls should not be used until these symptoms and conditions have passed. Additionally, after surgery, singing bowls should not be placed on the body before the sutures have been removed and the scar has fully healed and closed. If you are suffering from whiplash, you should not seek sound therapy treatment until at least three days after your injury. 

Finally, if you are a singing bowl beginner, it may be necessary to limit how long you play your singing bowl per day. According to alternative health practitioners, it is possible to play your singing bowl for too long, resulting in a “healing crisis.” Your singing bowl gives off vibrations and energy and, as such, too much energy, or playing too long, can overly affect your body. You might find that your symptoms worsen instead of improve. 

If this is the case, it is suggested that you limit yourself to a maximum of 5 minutes a day. These 5 minutes of playing should preferably be done at night before bed so that you have the night to sleep and process the energy from the singing bowl. As you adjust to the energy of your singing bowl, you can increase the time you spend playing it but remember less is always more so it is important to not over do it. 

Additionally, as a beginner, it is not recommended that you place singing bowls on your body for sound therapy yourself. You should seek a professional or undergo training in order to carry out singing bowl sound therapy appropriately. 

Conclusion

We hope this article was informative and helpful! As with any therapy or medication, it is important you know the side effects and precautions--singing bowls are no different. Singing bowls and sound therapy can be a great tool for healing and meditation but it is important to know that in certain cases they can actually have the opposite effect. Remember to always practice caution before using your singing bowl or attending a sound therapy session. As long as you know the risks associated with these treatments and are healthy enough to receive the sounds and energy of the singing bowl, you will be able to enjoy them!

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Singing Bowls for Beginners: The Complete Guide

Singing Bowls for Beginners: The Complete Guide

Chances are that you are already familiar with singing bowls. Perhaps you’ve heard them in yoga classes or in recordings of Buddhist chants and prayers. For those interested in learning more about singing bowls, we have created this ultimate guide for singing bowl beginners. From their history, to their scientific properties, to their powerful healing effects, there is a lot to learn when it comes to Tibetan singing bowls. 

In this article we discuss the following:

  •     What are singing bowls?
  •     History of singing bowls 
  •     Singing bowls today
  •     How do singing bowls work?
  •     How do singing bowls work on our minds and bodies?
  •     What are the benefits of using singing bowls? 
  •     How do you play singing bowls? 
  •     My singing bowl sounds like this…what should I do?
  •     What are the best singing bowls for beginners? 
  •     What do beginners absolutely need to know about singing bowls?

What Are Singing Bowls?

First, let’s briefly introduce singing bowls. Singing bowls, also called Tibetan or Himalayan singing bowls, are ancient bowls that produce sound and vibration when played with a mallet or striker. These ancient, multi-harmonic instruments are often linked with Buddhism or other spiritual practices due to their use within meditation practices. Used by monks for thousands of years, singing bowls are now more popular than ever! They are used in everyday meditation, yoga classes, sound therapy, classrooms, hospitals, and more. 

These versatile, healing bowls are generally made from an alloy of various metals. Five to seven different metals can be found in a single singing bowl. Singing bowls also come in a variety of sizes, shapes, and styles. Different singing bowls can also have different tones and pitches, and even correlate with specific chakras. When first learning about singing bowls, this may seem like an overload of information. However, learning how to play a singing bowl and incorporating it into your life can be very easy!

History of Singing Bowls

Most original singing bowls come from Buddhist areas such as Tibet, Nepal, and India

Much of the history of singing bowls remains unknown or unclear due to the Chinese invasion of Tibet in the 1950s. However, oral traditions date singing bowls to the time of the historical Buddha Shayamuni (560 – 480 BCE). Some singing bowls during this time were used for strictly religious purposes within monasteries and temples, such as leading chants or prayers, guiding meditation, or acting as an offering or begging bowl.

Other times, larger bowls were used for grain storage and smaller bowls used to eat from. As the use of singing bowls spread throughout Asia to places like Japan, Korea, China, and Mongolia, their uses expanded as well. For example, Japanese and Vietnamese Buddhists have traditionally used singing bowls to perform funeral rites and to worship their ancestors. 

Singing Bowls Today

For hundreds of years, however, what has remained constant is the calming, meditative state singing bowls can create. Singing bowls are useful to Buddhist practitioners and anyone else who is wanting to experience a greater amount of peace and intuition in their daily lives through meditation.Today, singing bowls are found far outside the temples and monasteries of the Himalayan mountains. They are used as tools for meditation or alternative treatment for various illnesses like chronic pain or depression, just to name a few!

Frequently, singing bowls are associated with sound therapy and sound baths or massages. For human beings, sound is a vehicle which can help us arrive to a healthier state of being, both physically and mentally. It also allows us to explore and express the feelings we keep inside of us. For this reason, singing bowls are becoming increasingly popular to treat anxiety disorders, depression, and even post-traumatic stress disorder. The vibrations work throughout our bodies massaging, cleansing, and purifying, while the calm meditative state allows individuals to search within and find what ails them. 

Source: LoveToKnow

When researching the benefits of using a singing bowl, you are likely to find it linked with cancer treatment. While the use of singing bowls is not a scientifically-backed treatment for diseases such as cancer, they have been noted to greatly improve the symptoms of the illness and treatment for cancer patients who have used Tibetan singing bowls as a part of their healing process. In a case such as this, singing bowls are not intended to heal the body of the cancerous cells but rather provide relief and balance to other parts of the mind and body. Using a singing bowl in this way is similar to drinking fluids and resting when sick—it does not cure you of your sickness, but it alleviates the symptoms and helps your recovery along the way.

How Do Singing Bowls Work?

What exactly do singing bowls do and how do they do it? The science behind singing bowls is actually quite simple! In fact, this ancient instrument can best be compared to playing wine glasses filled with water. Singing bowls “sing” by creating vibrations. They are played with mallets or strikers. When a mallet or striker makes contact with the side of the singing bowl, friction occurs and vibrations are created. These vibrations are heard through beautiful sounds that are felt within our bodies and energy fields. Changing the speed and pressure of the mallet or striker can then change the sounds that are created. Sticking to the same pressure and speed leads to resonance, which is the note that we can hear even after the player moves the mallet away from the singing bowl. 

How Do Singing Bowls Work on Our Minds and Bodies?

Singing bowls can have very powerful effects on our minds and well-being. Many of those who use singing bowls and believe in their strong, healing and meditative powers say that singing bowls and their notes have the power to influence our brainwave patterns through a process called “acoustic entrainment.” This acoustic entrainment is a feeling of deep relaxation and focus as the vibrations of the bowl move throughout our bodies, restoring balance and peace. 

Singing bowls can also be incorporated into chakra healing. Singing bowls are able to open and balance chakras. Some say that different chakras can specifically respond to different frequencies of sound produced by singing bowls. Different bowls can be tuned to different notes. Just like an instrument such as a guitar can have different tunings, so can singing bowls! When it comes to differently toned singing bowls, some have found that specific tunings impact specific chakras.  The following tunings are matched with the following seven chakras:

  • Root Chakra: C Note
  • Sacral Chakra: D Note
  • Solar Plexus Chakra: E Note
  • Heart Chakra: F Note
  • Throat Chakra: G Note
  • Third Eye Chakra: A Note
  • Crown Chakra: B Note 

 
Source: 
Jevon Dängeli

What are the Benefits of Singing Bowls?

There are numerous benefits to playing a singing bowl. Singing bowls have the power to heal sickness, improve overall well-being, or target specific issues one might be experiencing. Here’s a general list of benefits that can be realized through playing a singing bowl. 

  • Chakra cleansing 
  • Promote relaxation 
  • Soothe illnesses and pain
  • Aid in reducing the pain caused by cancer treatment 
  • Reduce stress and anxiety 
  • Improve blood pressure and flow
  • Tool for anger management 
  • Create peace 
  • Improve the immune system
  • Boost overall well-being and contentment 
  • Remove negative energy from your home
  • Enhance sleep
  • Cleanse and charge crystals
  • Heighten clarity of mind and intuition

How Do You Play Singing Bowls? 

Playing a singing bowl can cause a rush of varying emotions from feeling invigorated to relaxed. But how can you achieve such blissful and calm moods? Luckily, there are several different ways to play a singing bowl, ranging from very beginner to advanced. 

As this is a guide for beginners, we’ll focus on the two most popular ways to play a singing bowl: striking and rimming. Other popular techniques, such as the “Wah Wah” Method or filling the singing bowl with water may be difficult for some people when they first start experimenting with singing bowls. Therefore, we suggest beginning with striking and rimming. In order to use either method, you will need a singing bowl, of course, but also a mallet or striker and an appropriate resting spot for your singing bowl.

The striking method is pretty self-explanatory. Using a wooden or felt-padded striker, you will take your singing bowl and hit its side. A wooden striker will create a high-pitched, metallic tone. On the other hand, a felt-padded mallet will create a rich, gentler, warmer tone. When striking, it is important to not hit your singing bowl too hard. Hitting it too hard might cause the bowl to crack or fall. To prevent this, some people prefer to use a cushion, ring, or mat underneath their singing bowl to keep it steady. You can also use your non-dominant hand to hold the singing bowl. If holding your singing bowl, be sure to place it on top of your flat palm. If wearing rings, remove them or avoid making contact with them and the bottom or sides of the bowl as this contact can create unwanted vibrations. 

Source: Refined Massage Therapy

The rimming technique, which may be a bit more difficult than the striking method, involves what’s usually a leather-wrapped or wooden mallet. When it comes to how to hold the mallet, you should find the way that feels most comfortable to you. However, most people find it best to hold the mallet at an angle as though writing with a pen, while others grip the mallet with all five fingers and act as if they are stirring something in a pot. This is the technique that really lets your singing bowl sing! When starting out, be mindful of your patience. You many need to circle the bowl numerous times before it starts producing sounds but this is okay—it will all improve with practice! Apply even pressure and move the mallet clockwise around the rim of the bowl. Pace yourself and don’t rub too quickly. Allow the sound to build over time instead of all at once. This should create a beautiful, peaceful sound to meditate to. 

As with any new skill, you cannot become a master overnight but remember to keep it up. Frequently playing your singing bowl will not only improve your overall well-being, but also improve the singing bowl’s ability to sing. As you play your singing bowl more, the singing bowl will create grooves in the side of the mallet. These grooves actually help the mallet get a better grip on the singing bowl’s rim, which will make it easier to play. Additionally, as bowls age, their tones mature and become mellower and deeper. 

My Singing Bowl Sounds Like This…What Should I Do?

As a beginner, it is likely you will run into issues playing your singing bowl. We’re here to help and guide you!

My Singing Bowl is “Chattering” 

A “chattering” or rattling singing bowl is one that sounds high-pitched with uneven, unequal sounds. If your bowl is chattering, you will know—it’s not very pleasant or relaxing to hear! The chattering sound is caused by uneven or not enough pressure. To stop the stick from bouncing off the bowl, slow down and apply more even pressure.

My Singing Bowl is Too High Pitched 

If you feel that your singing bowl is too high pitched, it could be one of two things. The first cause might be that you purchased a bowl with high-pitched tones. While smaller singing bowls are likely to be higher-pitched (which does not have to be a bad thing, as higher pitched bowls are often used in driving out illnesses or pain), it is possible you prefer a lower pitched bowl. In this case, we suggest looking for a larger or medium-sized bowl, which will have much lower notes.

The second reason why your singing bowl might be too high pitched is that you are using the wrong mallet. A wooden mallet rimming or striking a singing bowl will give off higher pitches which may be unpleasant for some. If this is the case, try rimming your singing bowl with a leather-wrapped mallet or striking it with a wool-padded striker. 

My Singing Bowl Sounds Fine but Sometimes the Sound Feels Overwhelming 

It is possible to be overly affected by your Tibetan singing bowl. As a beginner, this will likely be your first time being around and playing a singing bowl. If you find that the singing bowl negatively affects you, try cutting down the time spent playing the playing to a maximum of five minutes a day. It might also be useful to practice in the evening before bed so that you can process the vibrations and energy emitted by the bowl while sleeping.

Another reason why your singing bowl might feel overwhelming is the bowl’s loudness. Crystal singing bowls, for example, are known for their incredibly loud tones. If you find that your singing bowl is too loud, apply lighter, gentler pressure and slow down the rotation. 

What Are the Best Singing Bowls for Beginners? 

Just as singing bowls vary in size, shape, and style, they also vary in price. As a singing bowl beginner, you may not be interested in spending hundreds, perhaps, thousands of dollars on a genuine, antique bowl. While antique bowls are super high quality and special bowls to play, a beginner may have better luck learning on a small to medium sized machine-made bowl.

Because machine-made bowls are often smoother than their hand-beaten counterparts, you might find that they are easier to play and give off a cleaner, steadier, and more even note when struck. Their smoother surfaces also make it easier to make them sing. A quality, machine-made bowl is a perfect, affordable singing bowl for many beginners!

In particular, you should consider purchasing a singing bowl from Shanti Bowl, which was founded in 2015 to spread awareness of the beauty and health benefits of singing bowls. These bowls, which are of the highest quality, are intentionally priced well below their market value in order to ensure they are accessible to the most people possible. In addition, Shanti Bowl donates significant proceeds to non-profit organizations that work to provide meditation and mindfulness practices to at-risk communities.

Check out our complete guide about how to choose a singing bowl.

What do Beginners Absolutely Need to Know About Singing Bowls?

While this post has been comprehensive and thorough for those newly acquainted with singing bowls, we want to end on some pretty basic pointers that you should definitely take away from this post. These are things that every beginner needs to know! 

  1. Practice! Playing the singing bowl is like learning any other skill: practice makes perfect. You have to be consistent in playing your singing bowl and avoid getting discouraged when you struggle. 
  2. Related to Number 1, Number 2 is a reminder to be patient, both with yourself and your bowl. Playing a singing bowl is supposed to be a relaxing experience. If you are tense or trying too hard, it takes the enjoyment out of the tranquil sounds the singing bowl can produce.  
  3. It’s important to have the correct accessories to play your singing bowl. The wrong mallet can hinder the singing bowl from playing to its best ability. A larger bowl will require a mallet with a greater mass and surface area while a smaller bowl will require the opposite.
  4. Find your bowl’s “sweet spot.” A singing bowl sweet spot is the place where the vibration is most stable and smooth, free from chatter or interference. The sweet spot will also sound its harmonic tones at an equal volume. Finding your bowl’s sweet spot is a combination of effort, patience, speed, pressure, and angle.
  5. Lastly, it is necessary to experiment and find the method or mallets that work best for you and your needs. The best way to get to know your singing bowl is to listen to it and experiment with drawing out its many different tones and harmonics. 

We hope this was an illuminating guide on the wonders of singing bowls! Anyone can play and enjoy the vibrations and sounds the singing bowl creates. Enjoy newly found peace and tranquility with a Tibetan singing bowl that you can use for a lifetime. 

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How to Choose a Singing Bowl

How to Choose a Singing Bowl

Choosing a singing bowl can be daunting given the vast array of different types and sizes of singing bowls available for purchase. Quality singing bowls can also be pricey, making this purchase an investment that buyers should not take lightly. If you are overwhelmed by the choices of singing bowls out there, you are in luck! We have written this guide to help you narrow your choices and find the best singing bowl for your specific needs and preferences. 

In this article we discuss the following: 

  • What are singing bowls? 
  • What are the different types of singing bowls?
    • Older versus newer 
    • High quality versus low quality 
    • Sound and feeling
  • What can different singing bowls do?
  • Where can you buy singing bowls? 

What are Singing Bowls?

If you are looking to buy a singing bowl, it is likely you are familiar with what singing bowls are, what they do, and perhaps their history. Singing bowls, also called Tibetan or Himalayan singing bowls, are ancient bowls that produce sound and vibration when played with a mallet or striker. They are often linked with Buddhism or other spiritual practices.

Singing bowls are generally made from an alloy of various metals which include copper, silver, iron, tin, lead, or gold. At the end of the 20th century, pure crystal singing bowls became very popular.

Singing bowls range in shape, style, quality, tone, size, and more. There are many variations and characteristics that make singing bowls unique. However, this uniqueness can be a challenge when on the hunt for the perfect singing bowl for your collection. This article will take a look at the many different kinds of singing bowls so that you can make an informed choice when purchasing your very own bowl. 

What are the Different Types of Singing Bowls?

There are many different kinds of singing bowls. In fact, some researchers have identified as many as 50 different styles of singing bowls. However, most singing bowl dealers narrow their shop offerings down to seven or eight basic styles. Authentic, antique singing bowls will be at least 100 years old, while others can be hundreds of years old. Generally speaking, older bowls can be distinguished by their shape, markings, metal thickness, as well as the tone produced. Crystal bowls are new age and not considered to be antique singing bowls, so we will discuss their characteristics last. 

Although there are various styles of Himalayn singing bowls, most genuine singing bowls can be traced to Nepal, Tibet, Mongolia, and India. When comparing different styles of singing bowls, a range of over five octaves can be produced, from high to low tones. The sizes can also differ drastically. A large Jambati bowl will dwarf a small Manipuri and there are hundreds of differently sized bowls between them! 

Thadobati 

 
Source: Antique Singing Bowls

Thadobati singing bowls are characterized by high walls, straight sides, flat bottoms, with plain, undecorated lips. They can play up to five different octaves and respond well when being played by a mallet. Thadobati bowls are small or medium sized and can range in price from as little as $60 to $560 USD. Some ancient Thadobati bowls date back to at least the 15th century, making them the oldest bowl forms. Additionally, there are many different sub-styles of Thadobati bowls due to their decorative markings. Thadobati singing bowls are among the most popular bowls. 

Jambati

Source: Best Singing Bowls 

Jambati bowls have curved walls, flat bottoms, and lips that face inward. Their appearance is also notable due to their appealing hammer marks. They can play up to four different octaves but most generally play the 2nd or 3rd octave. They respond well when being played by a mallet. Jambati bowls are the largest and heaviest of all singing bowls. 3 to 4 craftsmen are required to forge a single Jambati bowl. Given their size and the labor required to make Jambati bowls, their prices range from $640 to $8,800 USD. These bowls are often found in great condition. Due to their size, they were often used for grain storage, which preserved them well. If you are interested in purchasing a Jambati bowl, you will also need to buy a mat or cushion to place it on while playing it. If you are planning on only owning one singing bowl, a Jambati bowl can be an excellent choice if your budget allows it. 

Naga

Source: Antique Singing Bowls 

Naga singing bowls are also called Naga pedestal bowls. Its name is due to its chalice-like appearance. They are responsive bowls, but, unfortunately, their sound can sometimes be distorted by the pedestal base. They are small to medium sized bowls and considered to be very unique and rare. Antique Naga bowls are generally found in great condition, causing specialists to believe they must have served a ceremonial or sacred purpose. It is thought that its pedestal may perhaps have given it purpose as an offering bowl. Naga singing bowls range in price from $160 to $640 USD.

Mani

 
Source: Antique Singing Bowls 

Mani bowls are short and stout with an inward-facing lip and flat bottom. They can play a range of three octaves and are considered mostly easy to play, however, some can be temperamental. Their tone is considerably higher than other bowls. Mani bowls are small to medium sized and can cost anywhere from $270 to $675 USD. Mani bowls are sometimes referred to as Mudra singing bowls and many might have been used for sacred, ritual or ceremonial purposes.

Ultabati

Source: Best Singing Bowls

Ultabati, similar to Jambati bowls, are large, heavy bowls. They produce the lowest two octaves and can be very easy to play with practice. Ultabati bowls are capable of producing fountains as well as the OM sound favored in Buddhist practice. They are also some of the most expensive bowls, starting at $700 and going upwards towards $2,000 USD. Their appearance is also notable with darkened, or even black, outside walls. If you are planning on only owning one singing bowl, an Ultabati bowl can be an excellent choice if your budget allows it. 

Manipuri 

Source: Antique Singing Bowls 

Manipuri singing bowls, which can be small or medium sized, have shallow insides and splayed rims. They produce a range of primary tones and are considered to be very affordable bowls, ranging in price from $75 to $425 USD. Given that they are easy to play and are financially accessible, Manupuri bowls are often the first singing bowls added to one’s collection. 

Lingam

Source: Antique Singing Bowls 

Lingam, or Lingham bowls, are shallow like Manipuri bowls but distinct due to the protrusion in the center of the bowl. The peak inside of the bowl creates a flat bottom with a navel-like indention. Their shape gives them a unique sound that can make them difficult to play. These small to medium sized bowls are extremely rare when authentic and can cost anywhere from $400 to $1,900 USD. However, be careful when looking for Lingam bowls. Some bowls can be reworked to appear like Lingam bowls but are, in reality, fakes. 

Remuna


Source: Best Singing Bowls

Rumana singing bowls are stout with smooth, thin walls. They are also known for their decorative artwork. These medium sized bowls are among the easiest to play and can cost anywhere from $235 to $635 USD. 

Crystal

Crystal, Clear, and Handle Singing Bowls from Sunreed Instruments

Crystal bowls were popularized in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Quartz crystal singing bowls can be frosted, clear, mineral fusion, or a handle bowl. Crystal bowls come in a variety of sizes and can produce a variety of tones, playing in the 3rd, 4th, and 5th octaves. Frosted bowls generally produce the loudest sounds. Clear bowls are not as loud, but give off clear tones. Handle bowls are louder and easy to play. 

Older Versus Newer Singing Bowls

There are both advantages and disadvantages to older and newer singing bowls. Ancient Tibetan bowls, like any antique, must be authenticated for their age and quality. Many of the newer bowls being produced today are made to look old, but old bowls will stand out from the new bowls in both appearance and tone. 

Older bowls generally have thinner layers of metal on the bottom than newer bowls. However, do not let the signs of aging and wear scare you away. These bowls are at least 100 years old and these signs of wear are not only to be expected but appreciated. Older bowls also have richer, warmer tones than newer bowls, which have more metallic and sharp tones. Newer bowls, on the other hand, will stand out when struck as the vibration of newer bowls is more powerful and will ring out longer. 

The most popular ancient singing bowls in the West are Thadobati, Manipuri, and Jambati singing bowls. Price is also a considerable difference between authentic, ancient bowls and new, machine manufactured bowls. Antique bowls will be a lot more expensive than new bowls. Antique bowls are investments, whereas new bowls can be affordable options for beginners. 

High Quality Versus Low Quality Singing Bowls

In order to differentiate between high quality and low quality singing bowls, you must be able to play the bowl or at least hear a sound clip. A high quality bowl will be able to hold its vibration and produce several tones, harmonics and overtones. If the vibration sounds as if it’s “fluttering” away, the bowl is not high quality.

You should be aware that the amount of time or effort it takes to make the bowl sing is not important. One might assume that a bowl that sings right away indicates that it is a good bowl, but whether it sings right away or needs to be played for a while is unimportant when determining a bowl’s quality.

Lastly, a high quality bowl will be one made from the finest metals, which will ensure durability and longevity. 

Sound and Feeling of Singing Bowls

Although there are many things to consider before purchasing a singing bowl, sound should be of the utmost importance. It is important to choose a singing bowl with an excellent voice--one that moves you and makes you feel something.

When listening to a bowl, observe how the sound affects your body. Do you feel moved? Are there any tingling sensations in any area of your body? You should be able to feel the vibrations and tones produced by your singing bowl and they should feel good upon receiving them. 

In addition to how the sound makes you feel, is the singing bowl a good physical fit for you? Is it too heavy? Is it too small? Is it too big to hold? Will the weight be a problem when playing for long periods of time?

Generally speaking, bowls weighing more than 3 pounds, or 1.5 kilos, may become difficult to hold when playing for long periods of time. On the other hand, very light bowls can be moved too easily while being played leading to distorted sounds or worse, as they are liable to falling over and cracking. You should look for a singing bowl that is as close to your perfect fit as possible!

What Can Different Singing Bowls Do?

Different styles of singing bowls can have different purposes and uses. Therefore, when looking for a singing bowl to purchase, make sure to ask yourself how you plan to use the singing bowl. Is it for meditation? Grounding? Physical healing? Sound therapy? Yoga classes? Chakra healing? Singing bowls can make great additions for all of these uses but specific bowls might work best in specific cases.  

When using singing bowls for meditation, bowls that produce low tones or even the OM sound are best. Ultabati and Jamabati bowls are known for their deep, lasting sounds and are great for meditation. However, if you are meditating in a small room, a smaller bowl, such as the Thadobati, Mani, or Manipuri bowls might be best.

Similar to meditation singing bowls, the singing bowls that work best in yoga classes are the ones that produce low tones. If your yoga classes move location, smaller bowls provide greater portability. Grounding practice requires singing bowls that can produce lower tones, as well, like the Ultabati and Jamabati bowls. 

Singing bowls that are useful in physical healing include extremely high pitched bowls, which can help drive out illnesses in the body. A Mani bowl, which is known for its higher pitched tone, could make a great bowl for physical healing.

Various singing bowls can be used for sound therapy. Choosing a bowl depends on how you plan to use the bowl and what ailments you are trying to remedy. Size, for example, can be an important factor. Larger bowls should be placed near the feet and smaller bowls with warm tones near the head. Crystal handle bowls can also be useful in sound therapy as the handle allows you to move the bowl across the patient’s body. Naga singing bowls are also linked to sound therapists and healers.

Singing bowls, specifically crystal singing bowls, are often associated with chakra healing. Some specialists believe that specific tones work for specific chakras. For example, smaller, higher pitched bowls work best for the third eye. However, some experts stress that regardless of the specific pitches and chakras, what is most important is the “quality of your own intention and awareness” when using singing bowls for chakras. 

Where Can You Buy Singing Bowls?

You can buy singing bowls in a variety of different places. There may be health and wellness stores in your area which have singing bowls for sale from time to time. In addition, there are great places to purchase singing bowls online. In particular, you should consider purchasing a singing bowl from Shanti Bowl, which was founded in 2015 to spread awareness of the beauty and health benefits of singing bowls. These bowls, which are of the highest quality, are intentionally priced well below their market value in order to ensure they are accessible to the most people possible. In addition, Shanti Bowl donates significant proceeds to non-profit organizations that work to provide meditation and mindfulness practices to at-risk communities.

Takeaway

Singing bowls can make a great addition to your therapy and health practices, to your daily meditation routine, or to your group yoga classes. Singing bowls and their healing properties, including  stress reduction and pain elimination, can improve our overall well-being. In order to purchase the best singing bowl to improve your life, be sure to narrow down your preferences of style, shape, size, sound, quality, and price. Ultimately, you should choose a bowl that both meets your needs and creates love and harmony within you upon hearing its special voice.

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How Singing Bowls Work: The Science Behind Singing Bowls

How Singing Bowls Work: The Science Behind Singing Bowls

While the enthralling sounds of singing bowls might calm you, they might also spark the question, “how exactly do they work?” Like all musical instruments, Tibetan singing bowls rely on friction and vibration to create the sound we hear. What makes singing bowls so special are the different sounds that can be created by them depending on their qualities and the various circumstances and conditions in which they may be played.

Scientists and musicians alike have recently become interested in the singing bowl and the manner in which it  creates sound. The science behind the sounds of singing bowls is quite simple and can best be compared to playing wine glasses filled with water. However, the science behind the healing properties of singing bowls is not quite as familiar or established.

In this article we discuss: 

  • How do singing bowls work? 
  • How can singing bowls be used with water?  
  • What are the physical effects of singing bowls?

How do singing bowls work?

To play a singing bowl, one must either strike the bowl or rub the rim with a mallet. The action taken with the mallet is the first step in creating sound with a singing bowl. As explained by Science Made Simple UK, the friction created either by rubbing or striking a singing bowl creates vibrations. These vibrations create the sound we hear and can feel when holding the singing bowl. As you continue to rub the rim of the bowl, the friction keeps the sound going. This is called resonance. Resonance is the note we hear even after the player ceases contact between the singing bowl and the mallet.

To make matters a bit more complicated, the note we hear can differ between singing bowls and mallets. Most singing bowls are made from a bronze alloy of either copper, tin, zinc, iron, silver, gold, or nickel. The material with which the singing bowl is made can change the sound, as can the mallet. Crystal bowls will not sound the same as bronze alloy bowls. Wooden mallets and padded mallets will produce different sounds as well. The size, shape and weight of the singing bowl can also affect what tones are produced. Adding water will change the note of the singing bowl as water is more difficult to vibrate than the air inside an empty singing bowl. Cushions, rings, or other accessories also alter the sound of singing bowls, often dampening or softening the sounds. Despite these differences, how singing bowls work can be boiled down to a simple idea: excitation of the rim causes the singing bowl to vibrate, creating a rich tone.

Singing Bowls and Water

Source: BBC

Many of the studies revealing the inner workings of singing bowls focus on singing bowls filled with water. In particular, there are multiple studies devoted to observing the way water is excited when playing a singing bowl. Two studies, one done by Octávio Inácio et al. called “The Dynamics of Tibetan Singing Bowls,” and another by Denis Terwage and John Bush called “Tibetan Singing Bowls,” have studied just that. These groups observed singing bowls filled with water being played with slow motion video and sound recording. In turn, their studies were summarized in a BBC article by Jason Palmer.

They found that as the singing bowl is played, the rim begins to change shape, switching back and forth between slightly oval shapes. The energy of the bowl transfers to the water. The energy charged water creates waves, which create droplets of water that bounce and skip on the surface. This phenomenon is known as Faraday waves. These studies have much larger implications than just acoustic music or sound meditation and healing--the study of the singing bowl’s Faraday waves can actually be applied to processes such as fuel injection.

A figure from the study, “The Dynamics of Tibetan Singing Bowls”, showing the different shapes of singing bowls when being played.

Adding water changes the frequency of the singing bowl. The addition of water often lowers and creates a deeper, longer-lasting resonance. Incorporating water filled singing bowls can create additional tones used for meditation or sound therapy, but it can also be an example of an interesting science experiment. How singing bowls work is based on scientific studies and physics. On the other hand, the effects of singing bowls on our bodies and well-being is on less solid scientific ground but should be discussed nonetheless.

What are the Physical Effects of Singing Bowls? 

Researching the scientific physical effects of singing bowls has yielded lots of contradictory evidence. Overall, most publications focus on the beneficial side effects of using a singing bowl in sound therapy rather than scientific proven fact that singing bowls can heal a variety of ailments. In fact, Chris Kyriakakis, a professor of audio signal processing at the University of Southern California’s Viterbi School of Engineering has said that there are no “scientific published peer reviewed papers” that support the claims that sound therapy “unblocks or redirects energy in the body” or that the vibrations produced work in tandem with humans’ own vibrational frequencies.

Despite Professor Kyriakakis’s statements, positive testimonials from other professionals and practitioners is overwhelming. One of the biggest proponents of using singing bowls for healing was Mitchell Gaynor, an oncologist and professor at Weill Cornell Medical College. Gaynor, who began working with singing bowls in the 1990s, championed the use of sound healing in addition to conventional treatment and medicine. The reason for this, Gaynor argued, was that sound therapy eased the psychological and physical effects of those with disease. He also argued that sound therapy gave patients “lower stress hormones and stronger immune systems.” The pulsating tones of the singing bowl help practitioners feel good and relax.

Practitioners will also sometimes provide the afflicted with sound therapy as an alternative treatment for problems such as anxiety, chronic pain, sleep disorders, and PTSD. These practitioners maintain that sound therapy places listeners in a meditative state, in turn, allowing them to de-stress, relax, and heal.

There are numerous articles on the internet written by sound healers and those that incorporate singing bowls into their treatment for a variety of illnesses and disorders. Singing bowl vibrations can have various physical, emotional, and spiritual effects on the mind and body. Sound therapy can be a great additional or alternative treatment to a number of physical or mental problems or just added relaxation to meditation or yoga classes.


Source: Awakening Wellness Center

The Bottom Line

We now know that singing bowls sing not because of magic or mystical forces. Singing bowls sing because of physics! Vibrations and resonance are created by striking the bowl with a mallet. In addition, while the scientific evidence is not clear, a wealth of anecdotal evidence indicates that singing bowl tones have positive physical, mental, and emotional effects on those who hear them. Tibetan singing bowls have been used in religious practice for about 2500 years and are now increasingly found in sound therapy practices, meditation, and yoga classes. Singing bowls work like any other instrument but their implications to improve our lives are endless! 

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Complete Guide to Singing Bowl Pillows, Cushions, Pads and Rings

Complete Guide to Singing Bowl Pillows, Cushions, Pads and Rings

While there are various guides for choosing the correct singing bowl or mallet, there is also a need for a guide on the singing bowl’s many accessories. From embroidered or felt pads, to brocade rings, to square silk cushions, there is certainly a lot of variety available when searching for something to put under your singing bowl. There are many benefits to using something under your singing bowl but each option has its various advantages and purposes.

Why Should You Use a Singing Bowl Cushion?

Certainly, singing bowls can be used without having anything “extra” under them. Most frequently, singing bowls are held in the hand of the person playing them. However, there are certain benefits to using something under your singing bowl.

When not being used, having something under your singing bowl provides two things: protection and ambiance. A cushion under your singing bowl will likely prevent any scratches or dents if the singing bowl is bumped or moved by accident. A cushion also provides a more stable sitting surface and would likely prevent a fall. If you want your singing bowl to last a long time and remain in excellent shape, a singing bowl cushion is the perfect affordable investment to provide protection when your bowl is being stored.

In addition to adding security, a cushion under your singing bowl is bound to make your singing bowl the center of attention in any room. Often times, the cushions sold for singing bowls are made of delicate silk or brocade with colorful, gold-detailed fabrics. Any of these cushions will beautify any room!

Additionally, if you are using singing bowls in a professional setting, such as in sound therapy or sound baths, guided meditation, or yoga classes, a display of your singing bowl on top of a beautiful cushion is a great mood setter. The ambiance provided by a beautifully crafted cushion can improve the overall setting you are providing to your clientele.

Using something under your singing bowl while playing it also has its benefits. Similar to the protection provided when not being played, a singing bowl cushion adds extra security while being played. A common way of playing a singing bowl is to strike it. Of course, hitting the singing bowl with a mallet will cause it to move but a cushion underneath the singing bowl will help it stay put. You do not want to accidentally drop or cause the singing bowl to roll away during its use. Not only would that seriously interrupt your session, but it could also result in damage to your singing bowl.

Playing your singing bowl while resting it on something can also provide better quality of sound. All singing bowls and mallets are different and interact differently, thereby creating unique sounds. However, the surface on which you play your singing bowl can affect its sound. A surface which is too hard will dampen the sound, producing a dull tone. In this case, it would be beneficial to use a softer surface that is specifically made for singing bowls.

Additionally, you may find that some singing bowls require the use of a cushion. In particular, larger singing bowls are harder to handle and play by hand. In this case, using a cushion would be necessary in order to get the most out of your singing bowl.

Lastly, it can be very useful to use a cushion under your singing bowls when playing multiple singing bowls at the same time. Having cushions under each of the singing bowls will make them accessible to the player and produce even tones.

What Are the Different Kinds of Singing Bowl Cushions?

Singing Bowl Pads

Source: Dharma Shop

Pads generally come in a variety of sizes and fabrics. They range in size in order to correspond with the size of your singing bowl. For example, a singing bowl with a diameter of 20-23 cm should use a pad of about 17 cm. A smaller bowl with less than 12 cm should use an 11 cm pad and so on. However, the thickness of these pads remains about the same at less than one centimeter thick.

Most often you will find pads embroidered with Buddhist or Tibetan symbols or covered in a rich, brocaded silk fabric. Pads can be an affordable yet stylish option. Placing your singing bowl on top of a pad will provide protection from scratches or dents and will also allow for a fuller tone.

Square Cushion


Source:
What the Whiz

A square cushion is often the most luxurious option when choosing a singing bowl cushion. They are often larger, thicker and more detailed, making them excellent for display. Square cushions are often made from silk or brocade fabric and include a button in the center of the cushion and four tassels at the corners. The thickness of square cushions will often raise the height of your singing bowl for playing which makes these an excellent option for professional settings, such as with sound therapy.

In order to pick the right square cushion for your bowl, you should pick a size that corresponds to the diameter of your bowl. For example, a singing bowl with a diameter less than 12 cm should use a cushion that measures 12 x 12 cm. A bowl with a diameter between 12 and 20 cm will use a 15 x 15 cm cushion and so on. A general rule of thumb is that you should not use a square cushion that is much smaller than your bowl. Your bowl needs to nestle into the indentation made by the button in the center. This keeps the bowl from moving when played.

Round Turban Cushion


Source:
Tashi’s Treasure

Similar to square cushions, round turban cushions are quite thick. In professional settings and sound therapy these cushions come especially in handy. For example, round turban cushions can be used to nestle the singing bowl near the client’s body. When using a round turban cushion, the bowl can be placed between the client’s knees, thighs, feet, or between their arms and body. These cushions should be about the same diameter as the bowl and will prove great support for your singing bowl.

Ring Cushion

Source: Dharma Shop

Ring cushions are debatably the most functional of all the cushion options while also remaining very pleasing to look at. As the name implies, ring cushions are donut shaped with a space in the middle large or small enough to fit your singing bowl. They are generally made from silk or brocade fabric.

With this particular kind of cushion, choosing the correct size is very important. If your cushion is larger than the diameter of your bowl, the singing bowl will sink into the ring and the sound will be dampened. If the ring is too small, the bowl will not be secured and will fall off when struck. Generally speaking, the cushion’s diameter must be 85% of the diameter of the bowl. A correctly sized ring cushion will create the best sound quality and keep your bowl safe from accidents. 

Felt Cushion

Source: Himalayan Healers

Felt cushions tend to be the most functional and simplistic in style as well as the preferred cushion of many Nepalese Buddhists. Felt cushions have been traditionally used underneath singing bowls, provide a steady surface to rest on, and create clear, full sound. Most often, these cushions are hand felted by communities in the Himalayas.

While not appearing luxurious or sometimes even perfectly round, felt cushions should be considered your bowl’s best bet, as after time the felt will form to the shape that best fits your bowl. Felt cushions come highly recommended by many singing bowl sellers. Once your bowl is placed on one of these fine, thick cushions you will understand why they are tradition’s choice.

Temple or Cover Cloth

Source: Spiru Shop

Temple or cover cloths are less about functionality and more about what is customary for Tibetan singing bowls. In Buddhist temples and other places of worship, singing bowls are often placed on an altar cloth. Using an altar or cover cloth in your own space can provide quality sound as well as a display of traditional ambiance. However, due to the thinness of the material, they do not offer as much height or protection as other options listed here. However, these cloths can also cover the bowl when not being used, protecting it from scratches and preventing the buildup of dust.

Rubber Ring


Source: Sound Travels

Similar to ring cushions, rubber rings are donut shaped and can be placed underneath your singing bowl to provide extra security while playing your bowl. They work best with crystal singing bowls. A correctly sized rubber ring will help stop your bowl from slipping around but may not be appropriate for all environments. The rubber rings are generally quite thin and require a sturdy, flat surface to be used. Their slim design, however, make these a good option when traveling to play your singing bowl for others.

Tibetan Wool Mat

Source: Best Singing Bowls

Most similar to the felt cushions, these Tibetan mats are flat and made from wool in the Tibetan community in Kathmandu. When placed under a singing bowl, these mats help create an amazing resonance. Not to mention the care and artistry that goes into making each individual mat! Each mat is unique and handmade, making it not only functional but a special piece to add to your space.

Wooden Stand

Source: Rakuten

For many of the examples of cushions listed here, they serve both a function and an element of style. Wooden stands, on the other hand, are recommended only for the display of your singing bowl. Wooden stands do not provide the necessary security and stability to be used underneath your singing bowl while playing it. As wooden stands are only recommended for displaying your singing bowl, the size of the stand should be to your liking, not necessarily the diameter of the bowl.

Zen Ultragrip Handle Tool

Source: Sacred Sound Shop

This last option for your singing bowl is the most modern among those listed above. Similar to PopSockets you might use with your cell phone, the Zen Ultragrip Handle Tool uses suction to attach itself to the base or center or your singing bowl. The Ultragip is strong enough to be placed on the inside or outside of the bowl. This is an option that should be considered if you use singing bowls in sound therapy practices that require you to move the bowl around a patient. Although the rubber is attached to the bowl, while moving and playing the bowl the vibration or sound should not be distorted or dampened.

In Summary

For the most part, choosing something to put under your bowl will be based on personal preference. Perhaps you prefer the look of something more elegant to display your bowl when not in use, like a brocade cushion. On the other hand, you might find yourself choosing practicality and functionality over beauty and choose a felt cushion. Either way, we hope this article has pointed you in the right direction when searching for the right singing bowl accessory for your needs and wants.

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