Sound healing has been practiced for as long as there have been healers. Sound or vibration is fundamental to our bodies and our universe. More than one of the great religions state that the world began with a sound or the word.
Singing Bowl Healing
The sweet, complex tones of singing bowls can deeply penetrate both body and mind. Their unique soundscape and internal harmonies cut through the chatter of the mind to touch fundamental parts of ourselves. Singing bowl healing is the use of these harmonious sounds for their beneficial effects. As their popularity has increased, Tibetan singing bowl healing is being practiced by a wider range of individuals. The open ended nature of sound makes the space for a lot of creativity. Below are a few of the non-medical practices I’ve come across. For examples of a more rigorous approach check out the Singing Bowl Therapy page.
We’ve all seen maps of the chakras, energy centers running from the top of the head to the base of the body. Chakras are said to have individual tones associated with them, tones very much in the range of singing bowls. There are many ways you can interpret the interplay between tones and chakras and assign notes. Since I lack the sensitivity required to affirm any system, ideas or set of beliefs in this area I do not label singing bowls as being chakra specific.
There are, however, many systems that can be found in various books from different teachers. Generally it is believed lower tones for lower chakras and higher for higher. Probably the most popular system is one where the root chakra is a C and the next six notes within that octave correspond to the higher chakras. For this reason the Chakra Sets listed in the bowl section follow this pattern. Keep in mind singing bowls are not tuning forks which are manufactured to exact frequencies in some strict association with to the western music scale. Singing bowls are wilder and using them in chakra healing takes an open mind. When I assemble a chakra singing bowl set what I pay attention to are sound quality and relationships.
One of the limitations of the single octave octave Chakra set is that the range of sounds is relatively narrow. A way to see this is to think of how 7 adjacent white keys on a piano is just a short part of the total distance from left to right. For this reason sound healing and chakra sets that have large (low tone) and small (high tone) singing bowls can have notes spread far apart over multiple octaves. If you are interested in a healing set that spans multiple octaves tap the blue Custom Sets button above for a tour of that process.
How to Use a Chakra Singing Bowl Set
Sound is vibration and vibration can be transmitted to the body through the air or directly through the skin. One method commonly employed is to place singing bowls on chakra points and ring them, letting the resonance penetrate deeply. For practitioners wanting to make body contact with a number of chakras at the same time the best types are the smaller Thadobati and thin Remuna. These singing bowls are light enough to not be disturbing to the body, small enough so you can place more than one at a time and have a relatively flat bottom for good contact. Manipuri bowls with their rounded bottoms can be a bit more difficult to maintain in place.
Sound healing based on the chakras can also be practiced by ringing bowls above or beside the client. Over the air vibrational transmission methods allow for the use of heavier and deeper sounding bowls.
One modality I see in the UK and now sometimes here in the USA is the “sound bath”. Here you use big or heavy singing bowls set around a person or a group of people. Jambati bowls are great for sound baths as are any bowl that can hold tones for a long time. When it comes to sound baths my experience is the more vibration the better.
I’ve had the pleasure of stepping into a tent at a festival in the English countryside to be greeted by a set of large Jambati singing bowls arrayed just so I could lie down among them. A sound bath is just like you would imagine, an encompassing experience. The best sound bath I ever experienced was in the temple of Damanhur in Northern Italy. We lay on the floor in a subterranean chamber with a 40 foot ceiling while bowls and massive gongs were being rung. The sound reverberated off of the walls with a penetrating intensity. Wow!
Tibetan Singing Bowl Healing
Some individuals with clear intention have received the guidance to use healing bowls to directly affect the physical and psychological state of others. Very often these healers have many bowls and select a few to meet the needs of the clients, going into the sonic apothecary as it were. Others have a small set and use that as an adjunct to their personal realization. In the Himalayas in times past medicine bowls, a very specific type of healing bowl, were used to augment the power of medicinal herbs. More on those in the singing bowls in Old Tibet section.
Playing Singing Bowls with Intent
On my own part, I do occasional “singing bowl experiences” where I bring out a set of a hundred or so singing bowls and ring them with the intention of facilitating a contemplative space within the audience. I have to say sometimes when I’m done I see people in quite an altered state, something other than the sound that they can take home with them.
Some of my ringing is single bowls, some multiple bowls of the same tone, some bowls in sequential tones – low to high and high to low. I also have some tone arrangements, which mix highs and lows. The wonderful thing about ringing a group of singing bowls in quick succession is when you’ve struck the last one the tones of the many merge into a rich wave of sound, which is easily followed into its quiet resolution.
Ring a singing bowl and set your focus is on sound, not melody. Try ringing singing bowls when you are upset, scattered or simply feeling out of sorts. Kids respond to singing bowls, too – even babies upset can fly on through the wings of their sweet sounds.
For additional information on choosing a good singing bowl, please refer to our Tibetan singing bowls – learn more before you buy page.