A guided meditation with a Tibetan singing bowl is a great introduction to the bowl and their beautiful healing properties. If you have never experienced a singing bowl before or are interested in hearing what a Shanti Bowl singing bowl sounds like, we recommend listening to this guided meditation by Catherine LaBella from Walking Between Worlds. Please enjoy!
A recent study published in the Journal of Evidence-Based Complementary & Alternative Medicine examined the effect of Tibetan singing bowl sound meditation on mood, tension and well-being. In this blog post, we will discuss this study and its findings, which support practices that Ayurvedic medicine has promoted for thousands of years.
In our modern world, stress and tension-induced diseases such as diabetes and heart disease, as well as addiction and mental illness, are becoming increasingly common. Meditation is becoming more mainstream and is often recommended to encourage relaxation, help alleviate anxiety and improve well-being. However, many find meditation to be a challenging practice that can take many years if not decades to master. Fortunately, the benefits of meditation can be much more easily attained (or enhanced) by using a Tibetan singing bowl.
Tibetan singing bowls are metal bowls usually made from a combination of metal alloys and originally used by Tibetan monks for spiritual ceremonies. Over the past several hundred years, years, singing bowls have been used more commonly for sound healing.
But what is sound healing? When played, Tibetan singing bowls make a vibration or sound called resonance which is the frequency at which an object naturally vibrates. Our bodies each have their own natural resonance, and vibrational medicine advocates suggest that disease is a result of those natural resonances becoming out of tune due to stress, illness, or environmental factors.
Interestingly, there is very little scientific research on the subject of sound healing. Accordingly, a team of researchers at the University of California delved further into the subject and recently published their findings.
They studied 62 participants, both male and female, with an average age of 49.7 years. Prior to and following the sound healing session, all participants completed standardized questionnaires to assess tension, anger, confusion, depression, anxiety, and spiritual well-being. Participants also completed questionnaires which included questions regarding any prior experience with meditation or singing bowls, substance use, medications, over-the-counter or herbal supplements, and whether they were experiencing any physical pain and to what degree.
Participants laid on yoga mats with their heads near the instruments and listened to the sound meditation for approximately 60 minutes. The musical instruments used consisted of Tibetan singing bowls, crystal singing bowls, gongs, Ting-shas (tiny cymbals), dorges (bells), didgeridoos, and other small bells. The Tibetan singing bowls were primarily played for 95% of the time during the sound meditation, while the other instruments were only played for 5% of the time.
Depending on the size of the room and the number of participants, anywhere from 30 to 80 singing bowls were played with at least two Tibetan singing bowls near each participant’s head. A musician lead the sound meditation using cloth covered mallets to strike the bowls and rub the rims of the bowl.
The results of the sound meditation were striking. The researchers found a significant difference between pre-treatment and post-treatment in tension, anger, confusion, depression, anxiety, and spiritual well-being across participants.
Significantly, tension was most dramatically reduced in participants, thus proving that sound meditation has the ability to increase feelings of relaxation and decrease feelings of stress. Most notably, participants aged 20 to 39 years showed the most significant change in tension followed by those aged 40 to 59 years. Depressed mood and anxiety were also significantly reduced post meditation and feelings of spiritual well-being increased following the meditation.
The study also found that participants who had no previous experience with singing bowls demonstrated larger effects than those with some prior familiarity. For example, participants aged 40 to 59 who were previously naïve to this type of meditation appeared to benefit the most from the sound meditation demonstrated by significant reductions in physical pain and tension.
These findings are significant for many reasons. The results show promise for a low cost form of stress reduction that is simpler to learn than meditation. Tibetan singing bowls are simple to use, and users can expect to feel deep relaxation and inner peace following sound meditation. In addition, health and counseling professionals such as nurses and councilors could easily provide sound meditation to patients at a relatively low cost or investment in training. Singing bowl meditation could be taught to those professionals and would be simple to provide in many settings to reduce stress and invoke the relaxation response. The study also shows hope for reducing stress-related disease in the body through the use of sound meditation.
We are thrilled to see a study that found significant beneficial effects of Tibetan singing bowl meditations on a number of indicators related to well-being. We encourage you to try a Tibetan singing bowl for yourself if you are suffering from any stress and tension related symptoms such as anxiety, depression, tension, physical pain, anger, and confusion.
If you are new to sound healing, we recommend starting slowly by playing a Tibetan singing bowl in a quiet, dim room for 10 minutes. This can be done by finding a comfortable seat on a yoga mat or cushion and closing your eyes where possible while striking the bowl and rubbing the mallet along the rim.
The vibrations created by the sound of the bowl are not only pleasant to hear but will also be felt in your hand and eventually your whole body. As you become more accustomed to sound healing, you can extend your sessions by up to 60 minutes. After a long stressful day at work or school, even a 10 minute practice can completely transform your day and melt away any residual stress or tension.
In ancient Eastern cultures, it is believed that sound and vibrations can help purify and rejuvenate the body and mind, and thereby improve health and well being. Such sounds and vibrations can be created by various instruments, including singing bowls.
Some practitioners also believe that the quality of water can be improved by charging it using the vibrations created by playing a singing bowl. In this blog post, we explore the practice of charging water using a singing bowl.
Benefits of Charging Water Using Singing Bowls
When a singing bowl is played, the movement creates sound and vibrations that reverberate throughout the bowl. When you pour water inside the bowl and play it, the water will begin to vibrate and create waves and droplets that are a spectacular sight to behold.
In particular, when you play the bowl by rubbing its rim with the mallet, the water inside the bowl will begin to resonate with the vibrations as the sound waves move through the water. This will manifest itself in a rippling movement and water droplets will start leaping out of the water. This occurrence produces a gentle but mesmerizing sound akin to raindrops and water ripples.
Listening to sounds that are organic and natural, such as the resonance produced by the water in a singing bowl, can be very relaxing and help lower stress levels. Studies have discovered that the sounds of nature help the body decrease the sympathetic response that causes the “fight or flight” reaction, and increases the parasympathetic response which works to help the body relax and function in normal circumstances.
In addition, some practitioners believe that drinking or cleaning oneself with water that is charged using a singing bowl can provide the body with special healing benefits. This stems from the belief of some practitioners that singing bowls can be used to charge objects and infuse them with the energy and properties of sound. Sound can be a vessel of energy that carries healing and revitalizing qualities.
Some practitioners also believe that water charged with a singing bowl is not only beneficial to humans but to flora as well. You can try pouring the water from your singing bowl into your potted plants after you have finished your meditation session. Some practitioners believe that the plants absorb the positive vibrations, which helps them grow.
How to Charge Water with Singing Bowls
It is very easy to charge water using your singing bowl.
It is recommended that you pour enough water to fill the bowl at half of its capacity. Be careful not to pour too much water into your bowl, or else you may have a difficult time playing the singing bowl as it may continuously spill. Doing so may also mute the sound of your bowl and decrease the vibrations.
There are two methods to charge water using your singing bowl, and these two methods can also be applied in combination with each other.
The first method is to take your mallet and circle the bowl’s rim. After circling the rim a few times, sound waves should soon be visible on the water’s surface. Intensifying the circling movement around the rim will cause droplets to emerge.
The more intense the circling movement around the bowl’s rim, the more you will see patterns in the water begin to emerge. After enough time has passed, you should reach a point where the water becomes unstable and droplets begin to form and become suspended at the center of the bowl or jump out of the water’s surface.
The second method of charging water using your singing bowl is to strike the bowl’s rim with your mallet. This will produce patterns on the water’s surface and will be observable through the nodal points where the sound waves manifest. The first point is where the mallet hit the bowl, and the second point is exactly opposite to the first point. The third and fourth points will be located at the two points where the first and second points meet halfway.
The sound produced while there is water inside the bowl can be very therapeutic for the body. However, you should be cautious about drinking water that has been stored within your singing bowl. In some cases, certain metals in your singing bowl can leach into the water, which may make it unsuitable to drink.
Various studies have been conducted to scientifically explain what happens when water is affected by the vibrations of singing bowls. Science indicates that sound waves that are visible in the water are essentially created when the bowl’s sides become excited by vibrations caused by playing the singing bowl.
Singing bowls have incredible healing effects and are widely recommended by health practitioners. The vibrations created by a singing bowl benefit the body by reducing stress, positively affecting the nervous and immune systems, inhibiting pain, combating depression, and balancing the chakras.
In Ayurvedic medicine, illness is caused by disharmony within the body. Because matter is energy that vibrates at different rates, the structure of matter can be changed by altering the rate of vibration. The body and mind are healthy when they vibrate in harmony.
When you play a singing bowl, the vibrations cause the right and left sides of your brain to synchronize and emit alpha and theta brain waves in synchronicity with the vibrations emanating from your singing bowl. Theta brainwaves are essential to healing the body and mind and create an experience commonly known as “being in the zone”. This synchronization brings your body and mind into harmony and helps you enter deep meditative states, receive intuitive messages, and engage in creative thinking.
How to Play a Singing Bowl
Playing a Tibetan singing bowl for the first time can be challenging, but with a little practice, it can be easy, fun and rewarding!
There are two ways to play a singing bowl. The first is to strike the side of the bowl with a mallet. The second is to rub the rim of the bowl with a mallet. In this blog post we explain each method more thoroughly as well as some advanced techniques you can also explore once you become more familiar with playing singing bowls.
We are very proud of the fact that Shanti Bowl is a social enterprise. We prioritize people before profit and are passionate about making the world a better place.
We meet that goal by donating 15% of our profits to several non-profit organizations that work to provide meditation and mindfulness practices to at-risk communities. Learn more about our Pay It Forward program.