In this post, we tell you everything you need to know about the different kinds of singing bowls. Let's dive right in!
Anyone on the journey to wellness is likely to encounter a singing bowl or two along the way. These ancient devices are rooted in the practice of healing through vibration. They are a form of idiophone, and they come in many shapes, sizes and with different intentions. Consider this your comprehensive, go-to guide when navigating the big world of singing bowls.
In this article we discuss the following:
- Tibetan Singing Bowls
- Crystal Singing Bowls
- Quartz Singing Bowls
- Crystal Sound Bowls
- Meditation Bowls
- Tibetan Bowls
- Sound Bowls
- Music Bowls
- Himalayan Singing Bowls
- Standing Bells
- Chakra Bowls
- Root Chakra Singing Bowl
- Throat Chakra Singing Bowl
- Tibetan Bell
- Tibetan Singing Bowl Set
- Brass Singing Bowl
- Tibetan Sound Bowl
- Tibetan Healing Bowls
- 528 Hz Singing Bowls
- Yoga Bowl
- Fake Singing Bowls
Tibetan Singing Bowls
There are few ancient civilizations known to Earth that didn’t make use of singing bowls in some shape or form. We know very little about most of them, and historians estimate that the first singing bowls originated in Mesopotamia roughly 5,000 years ago.
We owe all presence and knowledge of singing bowls in the Western world to the Chinese region of Tibet. Singing bowls appeared here roughly 2,000 years ago. During the mid-19th century, Tibet saw the wrath of the Chinese Invasion. The indigenous people, known as lamas and monks, were forced to flee the land and took whatever valuables they could grab with them, singing bowls amongst them.
In order to survive the following years, the lamas and monks were forced to sell off their valuables to anyone who was interested. This directly led to the spread of Tibetan singing bowls across the globe, and the start of a fruitful singing bowl production industry in Tibet.
Tibetan singing bowls hold a certain allure and ambiguity to them when compared to other, more commercial, renditions of the devices. All that is known about these bowls is that they were used in powerful sacred rituals and ceremonies by the lamas and monks, but, as history has it, the monks were never allowed to discuss anything pertaining to the bowls in question.
Some practitioners believe that Tibetan singing bowls, when used properly, emit vibrations so powerful that one can astral project into alternate dimensions.
Traditionally, Tibetan singing bowls are made from bronze alloy, with the most ancient of bowls being made from a combination of seven “scared” metals.
Crystal Singing Bowls
Modern technological developments have resulted in experimentation when it comes to ancient devices. Crystal singing bowls are an example of this. They offer an alternate experience relative to what metal bowls usually can.
Crystal singing bowls are generally made from 99.8% crystal compounds, which is just another way of describing purified crystals naturally found in the Earth. They can be made from a variety of crystals deemed inexpensive and abundant, usually rose quartz, clear quartz or amethyst.
Some practitioners have linked crystal singing bowls to body healing, on the basis that each cell within the human body has its own geometric crystalline structure. It is thought that the sound emitted from a crystal singing bowl can stimulate and balance the electromagnetic field of the individual in question. Different musical notes are directly linked to the different chakra bodies within a person’s energy field.
Crystals have long been known as powerful agents for healing and protection, so it’s only natural that when used in the form of a vibration emitting bowl that some practitioners would believe that they project the same qualities on a more heightened level.
For more information, check out our complete guide to crystal singing bowls.
Quartz Singing Bowls
Depending on the crystal compound used to make a singing bowl, the bowl in question is believed to take on the healing properties of the crystal used. White quartz is a popular substance used in the making of crystal singing bowls, also known as quartz singing bowls.
White quartz is milky in color, and is made from 99.8% silicon quartz. The difference between white and clear quartz is that white quartz simply has a denser mineral content and thus it shows up as a milky hue.
The human body is believed to have a natural magnetic attraction to the electromagnetic compound of quartz crystals. Our cells contain silica, which some believe is able to directly magnetize to the electrons of the quartz itself. The oscillation of the sounds that emerge from a singing bowl are believed to affect the cells in our brains and thus allow for altered states of consciousness.
Less common are clear quartz singing bowls. These look more like regular glass compared to other crystals, and refract light in a way that reflects the seven colors of the rainbow. The human body contains seven energy centers, or chakras, and so clear quartz singing bowls are believed to work by directly transmitting light energy into each relative chakra.
Crystal Sound Bowls
The power of crystal sound bowls lies in the notion that the electromagnetic and mineral compounds of crystals are closer to that of the human body than regular metal bowls could ever be.
In actuality, metal is seen as a very foreign substance to the body, and therefore their frequencies could never properly match that of the user. A crystal sound bowl, however, contains many energetic similarities found within the human body and aura, so their influence is thought to be greater.
Different crystals hold different healing properties. Rose quartz is extremely concerned with the heart, while a crystal such as amethyst is a powerful overall protection stone.
Crystal sound bowls are interesting because, unlike metal, they are rechargeable. Since crystals are naturally charged with the energy of the Earth, a crystal sound bowl should be cleaned and recharged as one would any piece of crystal jewelry or trinket. In order to do this, one need only leave their crystal sound bowl under the light of the full moon, overnight, once a month. To learn more, check out our complete guide to cleansing crystals.
Are crystal sound bowls the best singing bowls? It’s impossible to say, but energy healers around the world encourage singing bowl users to remain open to the benefits of both metal and crystal based bowls.
The term ‘meditation bowls’ has become a blanket reference for singing bowls of all types. One of the primary uses for sound bowls is to induce or elevate states of meditation.
Meditation bowls have become instrumental devices used in a range of meditative ceremonies; everything from guided group meditations to Shamanic ceremonies using plant medicines. The meditation bowls are customarily played by facilitators so that the individuals who are meditating can simply listen to, and absorb, the vibrations.
There is an undeniable sense of ancientness that comes with the sound of a meditation bowl. When it is played properly, the sound has a transportive effect, especially when the person on the receiving end is engaging in a meditative state.
It’s no easy task to play a meditation bowl simultaneously whilst meditating. Recordings of meditation bowls are widely available online through which listeners can enjoy two, three or more hours of non-stop meditation bowl sounds to carry them through their meditation session.
When used with meditation, sound bowls are said to bring the human body into deep relaxation and facilitate muscular rejuvenation. It has been known to alleviate pain in joints, as well as relieve migraines and headaches.
‘Sound bowls’ is a common alternate reference for singing bowls. This is one of the more modern names given to the ancient singing devices, and is thought to have emerged as a more explanatory, colloquial phrase for bowls that make sounds when properly tapped, as opposed to 'singing'.
There is no difference between a sound bowl and a singing bowl; they are one and the same. In order to properly use a sound bowl, one uses a mallet (sometimes wrapped in leather) to apply force to the outer edge of the bowl while cradling it in the palm of the hand. As the first strike of the bowl emits the initial sound, the user then uses the mallet to guide the sound vibration around and around the bowl for as long as possible.
It is recommended that one use their full arm movement in order to play a sound bowl, as opposed to simply rotating the wrist around the bowl’s circumference.
It is thought that as Tibetan singing bowls made their way even further east, they became instead known as ‘music bowls’.
Practitioners of Buddhist meditation across Southeast Asia use ‘music bowls’ in their meditation sessions. In this part of the world, meditation is taught in schools from a young age, and is seen as a crucial part of early development.
Referring to Tibetan singing bowls as ‘music bowls’ makes the device a lot easier for a young mind to latch onto. Children respond to the idea of music making and instruments, and so the popularity of the term ‘music bowls’ grew naturally as younger generations made acquaintance with them.
Since the resounding tones that come from an active music bowl causes almost immediate feelings of bodily calm, they make for great assistants when teaching meditation to children or newcomers.
Himalayan Singing Bowls
In ancient times, it wasn’t only the people of Tibet who were clued into ways to manipulate metals into bowls. There is evidence that singing bowls were being made across different parts of the Himalaya region, namely Nepal and India.
It is likely that the Himalayan people learned their metalworking techniques from the people in the Middle East, as singing bowls are thought to have originated with the Ancient Mesopotamians. Without these skills being generously passed over, the Tibetan people would never have been able to craft singing bowls of their own.
Legend has it that during the making of Himalayan singing bowls, the monks would chant specific prayers as the metal was being hammered. Legend also has it that each bowl had to be made from a combination of the seven sacred metals: gold, silver, copper, tin, iron, lead and mercury.
It is not unlikely that the Himalayan people had secrets to metal bowl making that we will never know or understand. Actual bowls from this period in time are today considered to be ancient artifacts, and are found only in museums. Since Tibetan singing bowls are still in production, we are able to purchase these instead.
When one thinks of a bell, one likely thinks of a specifically shaped chunk of metal, suspended strategically so that the body of the metal is never obstructed from movement, thus allowing the inner mechanism to bang to and fro, resulting in sound.
Tibetan singing bowls are a form of bell, or more specifically, a “standing bell”. Standing bells work without the need for suspension; they are inverted devices that are supported from the bottom up, instead of top down.
Sometimes standing bells are referred to as “resting bells” for the simple reason that these bells require no physical movement of their own in order to produce sound. Sound is produced by striking the outer rim of the standing bell using a mallet.
The less obstruction involved in the use of a standing bell, the better. For optimum performance, standing bells are best played whilst resting on a firm pillow, or solid palm of the hand.
Space allows the standing bell, or singing bowl, to vibrate freely, which in turn makes the sound emission more effective.
Ancient understandings of energy make reference to seven energy centers within the human body. They are the crown, third eye, throat, heart, solar plexus, sacral and root chakras.
These energy centers are said to be responsible for the balance, or imbalance, of each human being in question, and the disruption of one chakra can cause noticeable imbalances to manifest in one’s outer experience.
Since chakras are energy, and energy vibrates, chakras can be directly manipulated by using vibrational devices such as chakra bowls, or Tibetan singing bowls. Each chakra has an octave that it vibrates at, and these octaves can be matched by tuning the sound of your singing bowl.
Clear quartz crystal chakra bowls are popular since clear quartz contains the full spectrum of light; like a rainbow. Each color within the spectrum correlates to a colored chakra within the human body.
Here are the notes needed to match each chakra when using a chakra bowl:
For more information, check out our comprehensive guide to chakras and singing bowls.
Root Chakra Singing Bowl
Your root chakra is responsible for all forms of grounding and stability in your life. When this chakra is out of balance, one can feel particularly out of sorts, as though they have no solid basis on which to hold onto. This can manifest as a lack of safety, shelter, and even interconnectedness.
Most energetic healers will work directly with the root chakra as a means of bringing the rest of the energetic body back into balance. They might use a root chakra singing bowl in order to do so.
Using a root chakra singing bowl requires the user to tap into the vibrational frequency of the root chakra itself. Healers of the Western world have, for years, been under the impression that the correlating musical note for the root chakra is a C. This is incorrect, and all starting vibrations directed at the root chakra should actually begin at G.
Throat Chakra Singing Bowl
Like the root chakra, imbalance in the throat chakra can cause intense misalignment for the individual in question.
Our throat is our easiest and most frequently used tool for interaction with the world, and the people around it. It is how we express, defend and establish ourselves, so you can imagine that any imbalance in the throat chakra will bring with it a trail of imbalance at best.
Being silenced, even if just energetically, is a one way ticket to imbalance in all other parts of the body. Using a throat chakra singing bowl is believed to help realign and open up a closed throat chakra, so that the body can resume its most natural flow state, void of all blockages.
The note we aim to hit whilst using a throat chakra singing bowl is a D. By playing the singing bowl directly in front of the throat chakra at this tone, it is believed that we can pull the chakra into a reciprocating vibration and normalize the flow of energy.
If you don’t know how to properly play a singing bowl, it’s easy to understand why some people are more comfortable with the phrase ‘Tibetan bell’.
Not knowing how to start, and continue, a resounding tone on the singing bowl means you’re likely to repeatedly tap the bowl over and over, resulting in a bell sound instead of a single continuous, escalating tone.
Tibetan singing bowls are essentially just inverted bells. The player learns to balance the Tibetan bell on the palm of their hand, and play it until they are able to achieve a solid ringing sound that doesn’t fade out until the player decides that it should.
Tibetan Singing Bowl Set
If you’re investing in your first singing bowl, consider opting for a trusty Tibetan singing bowl set.
A Tibetan singing bowl set comes with a metal-based singing bowl, a sturdy cushion for display and playing purposes, and a traditional mallet usually made out of wood with a leather wrapped tip.
When it comes to a Tibetan singing bowl set, the two most important things are the actual bowl and the mallet. The bowl cushion is not a necessity when owning your own Tibetan singing bowl, but they do make aesthetically pleasing additions when displaying your bowl on a table or shelf when not in use.
Tibetan singing bowl sets occasionally contain more than one size of mallet. Different sized mallets mean you’ll be able to experiment with playing different notes and volumes when using your Tibetan singing bowl.
Tibetan singing bowl sets make for fantastic gifts for anyone remotely interested in energy or ancient healing techniques. Their timeless, etched facades mean they look good in just about every home or commercial space.
Brass Singing Bowl
It is believed that, initially, Tibetan singing bowls were made from a combination of quality copper and tin. Later, singing bowls were increasingly produced out of brass. Brass is an alloy metal, and therefore easy to manipulate when properly heated. One of the biggest benefits of brass singing bowls is the even, soft, heavenly tone that the metal emits when played. Aesthetically, a brass singing bowl is also one of the best looking.
There is much debate surrounding the authenticity of using brass to make Tibetan singing bowls. Some extremists go so far as to refer to them as “fake singing bowls”, while others simply regard them as more affordable alternatives to the ancient copper singing bowls.
Tibetan Sound Bowl
Incorporating a Tibetan sound bowl into your daily meditative practice could be the best thing you ever do for your energetic body.
Tibetan sound bowls are the culmination of centuries of medical institutions centered around music as a healing vibration. What’s interesting is that the Tibetan sound bowl was, in ancient times, nothing notably special when it came to healing using sound.
If we look into any ancient civilization we can find similar objectives being attained using very different objects. In native Australia, for example, the Aboriginal people developed the didgeridoo; a vibrationally based wind instrument used in ceremony for both celebratory and healing purposes.
In Southeast Asia, the gong, which was commonly used in ceremonies, is not all that different from a Tibetan sound bowl. Instead of holding the metal in hand, a gong simply suspends the circular slice of metal from a frame, allowing it to be hit without obstruction and the relevant vibrations to be emitted.
Tibetan Healing Bowls
Sound therapy is one of the most ancient forms of regeneration. Tibetan healing bowls have brought the possibility of healing through sound into the homes of thousands around the world.
Scientifically speaking, the sound that comes from playing a Tibetan healing bowl is one of few that is able to relax both sides of the human brain. Most everyday sounds, and even music, only pacifies one side of the brain while leaving the other active to contemplate the experience.
As humans, we don’t actually “zone out” while listening to the sounds of a healing bowl being played. Rather, we tune directly in and concentrate on the tones being played, all the while being distracted from our aches and pains long enough for them to dissipate out of the energetic body.
A healing bowl sends the listener into a deep state of zen, allowing the body to begin releasing its held stress and toxins. A sound mind permits significant healing opportunities.
Tibetan healing bowls have been known to help hyperactive children find calm and concentration, as well as help boost the immune systems of younger bodies.
528 Hz Singing Bowls
Most who seek healing from singing bowls know that the most effective form is that of the 528 Hz Singing Bowl.
In layman’s terms, 528 Hz refers specifically to a singing bowl’s ability to reach the note of C/Do. It is here where powerful resonance and vibration lies, and optimum healing can take place as a result.
528 Hz singing bowls have become the sought after octave for energy workers seeking prime results, though there is little evidence as to whether the octave makes any real difference at all to the level of healing being attained.
528 Hz singing bowls tend to be a little bigger and heavier than traditional Tibetan singing bowls.
Energy healing and yoga remains an ever blurring line, especially as more of yoga's effects on the energy body are continuously being brought to light.
Many yoga teachers in the Western world make the effort to travel to the East and receive their training where the practice of yoga actually originated. Yoga masters who have also uncovered the powers of Tibetan singing bowls might opt to include a yoga bowl in the space during practice.
In Kundalini yoga, a major focus is the element of sound healing. Typically, a gong is used throughout the practice, but a yoga bowl makes for a powerful replacement instrument in attaining the same level of sound focus.
Use of the gong during yoga can be traced back thousands of years to Northern India, the same region where sound bowls first emerged in the Himalayas.
If you are interested in incorporating a yoga bowl into your daily practice, but don’t have extra hands present to play the bowl as you move, consider using the many recordings of yoga bowls available online. These offer consistent, repetitive sounds of actual yoga bowls being played for designated periods of time. They make for fantastic background noise during a deep yogic practice and can help you transcend into a meditative state.
For more information, check out our comprehensive guide to singing bowl music.
Fake Singing Bowls
There is a lot of conflicting information available online when it comes to identifying fake singing bowls from the real ones.
Of course, few of us are in a position where we are sifting through ancient artifacts trying to determine the real from the duplicates. The term "fake singing bowls" often refers to contemporary singing bowls rather than ancient singing bowls or low quality bowls that are very poorly made.
The most important thing you need to understand is that there is really no such thing as a “fake singing bowl”; there are simply ancient bowls that were produced hundreds of years ago, excellent quality bowls produced recently, and low quality bowls that should not even be considered in your purchase decision.
Cheaply made, or “fake”, singing bowls will be able to make sounds just as quality singing bowls do, but they won’t always sound as pleasing.
Crystal singing bowls are easier to fake, especially if you are purchasing from an unreliable source. There is a massive black market for crystals around the world, and mock or replica crystals are often made and sold simply using colored glass or dyed stones. As of today, there is little to no evidence that any manufacturers have been producing fake singing bowls in crystal form. This is a relatively new style of singing bowl and therefore most retailers are still using reputable crystal suppliers… for now.
The quality of the singing bowl you opt to purchase will largely depend on your budget. An ancient singing bowl can cost you thousands of dollars, but will get you as close as possible to the ancient experience of playing a singing bowl. If you would like a high quality bowl with a more reasonable price tag, you could also opt for an excellent quality Tibetan singing bowl which is comparable to an ancient bowl except for that fact that it has been manufactured more recently.