What are Tibetan Singing Bowls?
Tibetan singing bowls are metal bowls traditionally made from the seven metals copper, tin, zinc, iron, lead, gold and silver and hand beaten so that when struck with a wooden beater they produce a deep and rich tone. The beater can also be used to rub around the edge of the bowl to make a constant tone which is the bowl ‘singing.’ Each bowl’s tone will be different and produce a distinctive note. Each note is said to work with a different area of the body for sound healing.
Singing Bowls are used in the Buddhist tradition in their meditation and mindfulness practices where the tone of the bowl/bell/gong is said to aid in bringing the mind to rest. Also, the sound is said to bring to mind the sound of Ohm, the original sound of the universe, which can also be used as a mantra in meditation.
Whatever the traditional uses, in modern times Singing Bowls are used by all sorts of wellness practitioners to encourage relaxation and to keep the body’s energy centres (Chakras) clear.
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How to use a Tibetan Singing Bowl?
To use the singing bowl to produce a single note by striking it, it is preferable to place it on a pillow or cushion although placing it in the palm of the hand will also work. One can strike the bowl softly to produce a background sound as an aid to meditation or relaxation, or one can strike the bowl strongly to produce a strong sound for energy clearing or as a mindfulness or meditation aid when in a group.
The more difficult use of a singing bowl is to make it sing by rubbing the beater around the rim to form a constant note. Begin by holding the singing bowl in one hand with the hand flat. For larger or crystal singing bowls, they should be on a cushion. Hold the beater firmly in the other hand but with a relaxed wrist. Strike the bowl and without losing the contact move the beater around the external rim of the bowl at a slight angle. The loose wrist is very important here to maintain a constant pressure on the bowl as you move around the rim. As you move, the sound waves are contained within the bowl and if you go too fast or lose contact with the bowl, the sound can escape make a discordant sound. It is a matter or practice and you will get the hang of it.
It is worth noting that not every bowl will suit every person. Some bowls just feel better than others.
Other types of Singing Bowls
Not all Singing Bowls are of the Tibetan Seven Metal variety. There are many ways of producing a sound that can be used in meditation or space clearing. Other items include;
Tingsha Bells – two metal discs tied together by a leather thong and struck together to produce a single sound.
Gong – A single metal disc suspended from a frame and hit with a stick to produce a very multi-layered sound.
Chime – A metal tube that can be struck to produce a sound. They can be singly on a wooden base, double or triple tubes on a base or even suspended to form a windchime.
Crystal Singing Bowl – A singing Bowl that is made from ground quartz crystal and moulded into shape giving an exceptionally clear and clean sound. Because they are moulded the note produced can be precisely chosen.
Machined Metal Singing Bowl – Not all metal bowls are hand beaten. Some are created using a machine to create the shape. They can be made to produce a precise note and the sound is very uniform.
Decorative Singing Bowls – Some singing bowls have symbols and inscriptions etched into them. It has little effect on the sound produced but some decorative bowls are for decoration only.