Singing bowls are made either from bell metals or crystal and played with a mallet by gliding it around the bowl to produce sound. The bowls are often referred to as Tibetan Singing Bowls or Himalayan Singing Bowls by Westerners. However, the use of these bowls originates in China. Tibetan Singing Bowls have been used in both Buddhist and Taoist practices for meditation purposes.
What's in a singing bowl
At one time they may have also been used to place offerings at altars for worship. In the West, the use of Tibetan Singing Bowls is largely relegated to “new age” spiritual practices. Although they are most commonly associated with Eastern spiritual traditions, research indicates that Tibetan Singing Bowls have a positive impact on health, even to the extent of promoting healing from various illnesses.
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Sound healing therapy
Tibetan Singing Bowls have been used in several studies to investigate their usefulness as tools in sound therapy. Sound therapy includes but is not limited to, music therapy, meditation, vibration work, and brainwave entrainment. Sound therapy is a popular method of alternative medicine that has evidence-based efficacy in treating a multitude of illnesses.
Sound therapy can be used to lower blood pressure, reduce pain, treat neurological disorders, and improve sleep. It is also an effective method of therapy for anxiety, stress, depression, mood disorders, and developmental disabilities. Sound therapy is often used in rehabilitation settings for catastrophic injuries and mental disorders.
While studies have focused on how patients with various health conditions respond to sound therapy, the widest body of evidence on sound therapy is based on its ability to lower stress, reduce tension, and improve mood. Since many illnesses arise or are worsened due to stress, this is a major implication in the justification of more widespread use of sound therapy.
In addition to treating ailments, sound therapy can also be used to promote general physical and mental wellness. Those wanting to reap the benefits of sound therapy can do so at home or under the guidance of a practitioner as part of regular meditation practice. Tibetan singing bowls are a particularly attractive form of sound therapy as patients can also learn to use the sound bowls themselves.
Sound bowl healing
Tibetan sound bowls are used by tapping the bowl gently with a mallet and then circling the bowl with different amounts of pressure and speed to vary the sounds. Sound bowl healing works when the bowls are played to elicit prolonged sounds that emit varying vibrational frequencies. Some sound bowls are made from metals similar to church bells, while others are made from crushed crystals.
Whether metal or crystal, the sound bowls may also be filled with water while they are played. The musicality of the singing bowl itself is relaxing and can induce a meditative state. Once in a meditative state, stress levels are reduced, which can improve hormone levels, blood pressure, and even blood sugar.
The symptoms of mood disorders may also be interrupted or reduced in this state. Increased mental awareness and deeper sleep are also effects of meditation. Additionally, the sounds emitted from Tibetan singing bowls allow the person listening to benefit from sound frequency healing. As described by experts in sound healing, each part of the body has its own frequency. Accordingly, sound frequency healing allows the body to harmonize any out-of-sync frequencies to a healthy state.
For example, someone with sleep issues would want to listen to frequencies that encourage alpha brainwaves that occur just before sleep. Brainwave entrainment is quite a complex field that has published findings on health and healing but is also one that still has a lot of room for discovery and additional research.
Singing bowls can aid in treating Parkinson's disease
What is proven, however, is that using Tibetan singing bowls is good for health and wellness. In the treatment of illnesses such as fibromyalgia and Parkinson’s disease, to helping with chronic pain and high blood pressure, singing bowls can be said to be drug-free, and noninvasive alternative treatments.
They are also relatively affordable.
A quality metal Tibetan singing bowl can be purchased for around $75. More expensive crystal bowls can range from the hundreds well into the thousands, putting a larger dent in your pocket. As they are increasing in popularity due to the lowered public threshold in terms of receptiveness to alternative medicine and new age spiritual practices, the bowls are also fairly easy to purchase online and at retailers that sell items for spiritual practice or Eastern decor.
Sound bowls in popular culture
Besides having reached the public by way of the new age spiritual trend, sound bowls are also often used by recording artists who aim to produce healing music for their fans. Tibetan singing bowls have reached the realm of pop culture with their use by songbird Jhene Aiko.
Aiko, a connoisseur of the spiritual, recorded the song “Trigger Protection Mantra” using healing vibrational frequencies and is planning a concert series of the same nature. Her use of Tibetan singing bowls is bringing to mainstream audiences what may have previously been an obscure spiritual and meditation practice for many.
In addition to Jhene Aiko fans, many people are also finding singing bowls through their yoga practices. Some studios offer classes in traditional healing that feature the use of the bowls and other healing sounds. Home decor is another way that these healing instruments are finding their way into people’s homes.
Many Millenials and Gen X’ers alike enjoy collecting Eastern-inspired items from their homes. This aesthetic is made popular by the rise in popularity of travel to Eastern destinations and the general trend of a globalized society. Regardless of how the bowls may catch one’s attention, evidence of the healing effect of singing bowls is widely published in spiritual books and medical journals alike.