Singing bowls are known all over the world for their rich tone and deep vibrations. When a wooden rim is rubbed in a circular motion around the rim of the bowl, it creates a soothing sound that lingers long after it stops playing. These singing bowls promote relaxation and offer powerful healing properties. Singing bowl therapy is a 2500-year-old sound healing technique and is still very popular globally.
How it works
The singing bowl usually comes with a stout, wooden stick. When the stick strikes the bowl or rubs around the bowl in circular motions, a deep and rich-toned sound comes from it. The sound and vibrations work as a kind of music therapy for people. There are many theories and studies about why singing bowls are considered therapeutic. All of these usually suggest that:
- The bowls produce vibrations that affect the mind and the body.
- The sound of the bowls creates brain waves that induce deep relaxation in people.
- They may give the same benefits as listening to soothing and meditative music.
Ancient sound therapy uses pulsing sounds, drumming, singing, and clapping for spiritual and health purposes.
Today many businesses revolve around sound therapy and healing through music not only in Nepal or Tibet but all over the world. The ‘healers’ believe that the music from the bowls releases pressure from various spiritual focal centres (chakras) in our bodies. It cleanses our souls and relieves stress, anxiety, depression, and insomnia. It also helps regulate the menstrual cycle. The practitioners usually have many students and visitors come to them to get away from their materialistic and busy lives for a day of calm and serenity.
The sound and vibrations made by a bowl depend upon its size and the proportion of the metals used to make it.
How To Play A Singing Bowl:
Playing a singing bowl is very straightforward, but it still requires some practice to play it for healing and meditative purposes. There are two ways you can play a singing bowl. The first is to strike it with a wooden mallet and the second is to rub the mallet in a circular motion around the rim of the bowl.
Here we explain both of these methods in great detail for beginners:
Striking The Bowl
The striking method is simpler and easier to learn and master. It will not take you long to get it right. Begin by sitting in a comfortable position with your spine comfortably elongated. Take deep breaths and stay calm.
- Hold the bowl right-side-up in your non-dominant hand and the wooden mallet in your dominant hand.
- The padded side of the mallet should rest between your fingers and the bare side used to play the bowl.
- Lightly strike the bowl on the rim or the outside body of the bowl.
- This will create a rich and deep sound and vibrations.
- Let the sound and the vibrations linger and fully dissipate before striking again in the same way.
Rimming The Bowl
This method can be more challenging than the striking method. It will take you some practice before you can fully get the hang of it. Sit in a comfortable position with your spine straight and tall. Take deep breaths and begin. Again, hold the padded side and play the bowl with the bare wooden side.
- Hold the bowl right-side-up with your non-dominant hand and the mallet with your dominant hand.
- Hold the mallet in the middle how you would grip a pen; with the mallet lying in between your index finger, thumb, and middle finger.
- You can strike the bowl first and let the sound and the vibration play out fully.
- Then rub the mallet vertically around the exterior wall of the bowl slowly and all the way around. Or do the same on the rim of the bowl. You can choose to circle around the bowl in clockwise or anticlockwise motion, depending upon which is more comfortable for you.
Note: this action is similar to stirring a pot; slow and full circles around the bowl and keep the mallet held vertically.
- The bowl will start making gentle sounds. Keep this going for several rounds around the bowl. Let the soothing sound build up.
- Increase the pressure by holding the mallet firmly against the bowl, but keep the speed gradual.
- As you continue, the overtone will build up and sound sweet and clear. Once you find the right tone, keep the pressure and speed intact. The pressure is necessary to keep the bowl singing and vibrating.
You can keep going to your liking and comfort. Or slowly come to a stop and let the sound and vibrations linger and dampen themselves slowly. Then begin again in the same way. You can omit to strike the bowl before rimming it; although it is easier to make the bowl sing and vibrate if you strike it and start rimming immediately.
You can experiment with going back and forth between striking and rimming once you get used to playing the bowl. There are no set rules on playing the bowl; it depends upon you and what you find easier.
Holding The Bowl:
You can hold the bowl at chest level or on your lap. Hold it on your palm or your fingertips as we mentioned above or you can place the bowl on a flat surface like the floor, a table, or a mat. A wooden surface is recommended for clearer sound and to let the vibrations dampen slowly.
However, holding the bowl on your hands or fingertips will let you feel the vibrations and give you a better overall experience of playing the bowl.
Holding the Mallet:
The most comfortable way to hold a mallet is to hold it like a pen or like you would hold a knife while eating. You are supposed to hold the padded side of the mallet and play the bowl with the wooden side. However, you can play the bowl with the padded side too. It is a little bit harder to get used to and get the bowl ringing, but this method will create a kind of deep, bass tone which is equally relaxing and soothing.
Once you find a way to play a singing bowl that works the best for you, you can feel free to maintain it or experiment with it. Again, the purpose of a singing bowl is to induce relaxation and stimulate your energy cores (chakras). Different methods work for different people. There isn’t a definitive way to play the bowl.