From ancient times, people used singing bowls for their deep and pleasant sound and rich 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. They are believed to have many health benefits and also assist in meditation. Sound healing therapy using singing bowls is a 2500-year-old technique. Today, many businesses are revolving around singing bowls. Many practitioners and ‘healers’ conduct therapy sessions all over the world.
People all over the world seek comfort and an escape from their problems and anxieties through singing bowl therapy. They have also become popular as souvenirs and gifts when people visit Nepal and other south and east Asian countries.
How it works
Singing bowls are traditionally hand-made from seven metals: copper, tin, zinc, lead, iron, silver, and gold. The sound and vibrations made by these bowls depend largely on the size of the bowl and the proportion of their ingredient metals.
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 in Nepal or Tibet and 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.
Uses of singing bowls:
- Anxiety Relief: In a study of singing bowls, scientists recorded their sound. They discovered wave patterns that were similar to the alpha waves produced by our brain. This gives us immense relaxation when a singing bowl is played. Our brain loosens up and we are relieved of stress.
- Meditation: The music from singing bowls is meditative and therapeutic. Many healing practitioners help people meditate and become mindful with the assistance of singing bowls. The alpha waves and vibrations help people stay focused and let go of any tension in their bodies.
- Helps with insomnia: Calm music never fails to stir people deeply inside and push them to deep relaxation. Because of their contribution to easing anxiety and depression, singing bowls also help people with insomnia to doze off.
- Lowers blood pressure: In a study conducted and published in the American Journal of Health Promotion in 2014, a 12-minute relaxation session with singing bowls showed a direct impact in lowering blood pressure and heart rate.
- Stimulates the immune system: People believe that singing bowls impact our brain waves and stimulate our immune system directly. They also improve blood circulation and eliminate toxins from our bodies.
- Harmonizing the body: The deep vibrations and tone of the singing bowls may help balance our body’s spiritual energy (chakras) and harmonize the cells. Many people vouch for such spiritual benefits of these singing bowls.
- Pain Relief: It is found that singing bowls help relieve pain in the joints, muscles, and shoulders. They also ease any tension and blockages in the digestive system and help regulate the energy flow.
- Eases Migraines: Although loud and piercing sounds are the root of migraines, singing bowls seem to do the exact opposite. People with severe headaches and migraines claim the singing bowl therapy to have helped them with it.
- Other health benefits: Some other health benefits of singing bowls include easing asthma-related issues, regulating the function of the adrenal gland, and improving synaptic responses in our brains. They also help children with hyperactive disorders.
Risks of singing bowls:
Singing bowls and their sound may also pose some threats. Here are some of the most likely risks.
- May induce migraines and headaches: As mentioned above, loud and shrill sounds make some people uneasy; especially those who suffer from migraines and severe headaches. The lingering sound of singing bowls may throw people into a migraine episode if played for a long time.
So, it is advised for people with migraine vulnerabilities to not listen to the sounds for a long time.
- Risks for pregnant women: Although the risks of the vibrations and waves from singing bowls on pregnant women are not clear, we advise them to consult a doctor or pediatrician before taking any such sessions or therapy.
- May Cause Seizures: Once again, the sounds and vibrations of singing bowls may trigger seizures in some people. Anyone with such vulnerabilities should consult a doctor before going to a singing bowl therapy session. Always better to be safe than sorry.
Most of these are theories and beliefs and need to be backed by solid research. But when millions of people in the world are attracted to this technique of therapy, it must say something about it. Singing bowl therapy might not be the cure to depression, anxiety, and joint pains, but they do help people feel relaxed. Even if they don’t erase people’s pain and stress, they certainly stave off anxious thoughts and put people at ease. Even deaf people who can’t hear the music coming from the bowls can feel the vibrations and feel similar healing experiences.
However, ringing sounds and deep vibrations may trigger seizures in vulnerable people. And the effect of singing bowls on pregnant women is not known yet. So, anyone looking for a therapy session might want to research the potential dangers and disadvantages of singing bowls.
In any case, the benefits outnumber the dangers by a vast number. People will continue to seek these sessions and book appointments with expert practitioners. Scientists will continue their research on them. But they will always hold a big place in south Asian culture and ancient therapies.
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