The history of singing bowls is a bit of a mystery. They have been hailed as originally coming from Tibet, but most scholars of the subject accept that they did not originate there after all.
The mixing of various metals to produce sound has been in Asia from ancient times. From around 1100 BC small metal skull shaped bowls used to produce sound were well known. Finely tuned bells were being made in China around 500 BC. By 600 BC The study of sound and its affects was quite advanced in China and bowls were being produced made of bronze and filled with water to produce a humming sound. Bronze bowls were produced in the Himalayas centuries ago and used as begging bowls or kitchen utensils. Evidently there is no historical evidence to suggest that the bowls there were used for sound or used for religious practice. Although bells and other instruments were well known to have been used for such practices. We in the west became interested in the sound produced by these bowls much much later and they seem to have taken hold in the 60s and became part of the hippy revolution, although I am sure that there must of been small groups of spiritual people aware of them and using them prior to that. These bowls are now produced throughout the Himalayas and India to fulfil the demands of the west.
Singing bowls were traditionally made from seven metals relating to the seven sacred planets silver (moon) Gold (sun) iron (mars) tin(Jupiter) Mercury (Mercury) lead (Saturn) copper (Venus). These metals are often in the very old singing bowls, but these days bowls are typically made of five metals excluding the gold and silver.
I’ve often seen people quite affected when they hear the sounds of a singing bowl for the first time. It’s a deeply moving resonance that touches your deep down. This sound cannot be reproduced by anything else that I can think of.
Healing sounds have been used increasingly in the west for quite some time now and it is believed that the powerful vibration that emanates from a bowl can affect the cells of the human body and bring about healing at this very deep level. It is also claimed that the harmonic frequencies of the bowls can stimulate the natural harmonic frequencies of different parts of the body.
Throughout the ages, healers, mystics and tribes people have used music, chant and vibrational sounds to achieve altered states of consciousness. Normally the brain produces Beta waves, while Alpha waves are present when the brain is in the state of calm and meditation. It is believed that the sound wave pattern produced by some singing bowls is equivalent to the Alpha waves produced in the brain. Singing bowls can induce a deep relaxation and peace and also clear negative energy that has become stagnant or blocked in not only the body, but a room or space.
At the shop we smudge every morning with sage and use the singing bowl to clear the energies from the day before (see my Ancient Art of smudging blog).
Playing a singing bowl can sometimes take a little practice, but usually after a few minutes you get the hang of it. With a few simple instructions and learning a little technique you can produce that beautiful sound. Each bowl sings out its own unique sound and vibration. To get the best sound, rest the bowl in the palm of your hand with fingers outstretched, hold the stick or mallet as you would a pen, tap the bowl on the outer rim very gently and then run the stick around the outer rim using constant pressure. Rotate your wrist as if you were stirring a pan of porridge. After some practice you will realise that you can change the sound that you produce by altering the speed or pressure, or what part of the of the bowl you run the stick around. Also the stick that you use will also produce a different sound. Some sticks are wooden and some are leather or felt covered. If you have a hammered bowl and your bowl rattles when you play it, slow the speed at which you are playing it and use a leather or felt covered stick, this should remedy that problem. There are also some beautiful quartz Crystal bowls available and the sound is quite incredible, you can buy them tuned to different musical notes or to resonate with the chakras. A really beautiful way to send out even further positive vibrational energy is to chant a mantra whilst you play your bowl.You will send out wonderful healing energy into yourself and into your home or space, to the planet and beyond, just as a ripple continues onwards. A singing bowl is always going to be a wonderful worthy addition to your healing tools, but do make sure you find the sound that resonates with you personally.
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