'Singing Bowls' - Their History and Use
Information and illustrations provided by Wayne Boyce - Gong Bath Presenter and Practitioner
'Singing Bowls' - Historically made for thousands of years
The making of traditional singing bowls dates back some 2,400 years and been handed down from generation to generation in India, Nepal, and Tibet through verbal teaching within a highly structured family clan or caste system.
Today artisans in Nepal in the Kathmandu Valley work to revive the techniques for making these bowls. The Shakyamuni clan today still makes healing bowls, chanting with mantras while they make the bowls. This same method goes back to the time of Buddha.
The oral history tells us that the bowls came to Tibet from India at the same time that Buddhism was introduced to Tibet by the great Buddhist master Padmasambhava. The history of Tibetan singing bowls goes back to the 8th century A.D.
Traditionally made of a special seven metal alloy of gold, silver, iron, mercury, tin, copper, and lead.
Each bowl begins as a molten mixture of the special seven sacred metals. It takes three to four people to hammer each bowl. One holds the hot metal with blacksmith tongs while two or three others alternate hammering and chanting. Infusing the bowl with healing intentions even as it’s being created.
Each of the sacred metals is aligned with the seven heavenly bodies in our solar system and the seven chakras of our body. Additionally each bowl is fine tuned to the specific note that affects an individual chakra.
The Tibetan order of planets corresponds to how fast they appear to move from the point of view of an observer on earth. With the moon as the fastest, Saturn the slowest and the sun in the middle. This is an ancient system used by astrologers and alchemists. It doesn’t include the planets that had not yet been discovered. Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto.
Vedic System Tibetan System
Bowls typically range in size from three inches to fourteen inches in diameter, but can also be larger or smaller.
Large bowls have stronger deeper vibrations. Small bowls have higher more intense vibrations.
The human body responds differently to sounds in the higher or lower octaves of sound. Some people find that they prefer the sound of the bigger bowls with their lower pitch and deep low vibrations.
Generally the smaller bowls are used for meditation and the larger ones are for healing.
You can play a singing bowl by rubbing or striking it
Rubbing the Bowl use either a wooden or a leather covered mallet. With leather you get a softer tone while wood gives you a higher pitched sound. Using a wooden mallet is a good way to learn because it is easier to get a sound. With a leather mallet you have to press a little harder, but there is no rattling sound.
Striking gives you a clearer tone than rubbing, so striking is the primary method used for healing.
Sit in a relaxed position with your back straight, on a chair or cushion on the floor. Your eyes should be relaxed and slightly closed.
If you are right-handed, hold the bowl on the palm of the left hand (vice versa if you are left-handed) at the level of your heart. Keep the hand that is holding the bowl flat, do not curl your fingers around the bowl or they will impede the sound.
Take a deep breath and think only of your breathing as you begin to play.
Make sure you strike the bowl with an upward motion of the striker. A common mistake people make when first learning to play a singing bowl is to tap it rather than using a fluid upward stroke.
Hold a large bowl in your non-dominant hand, make a fist with your other hand and strike the bowl near the rim with the little finger side of your fist to make a gentle and soothing sound. This is used most often in the healing therapies where a softer vibration is desired.
As a practice – Nada "union through sound"
Today we use gongs along with other instruments in complementary therapy to promote healing and aid relaxation. Everyone has a vibration that is a signature of their health and wellbeing, these sounds and vibrations can be used to re-tune us to a healthy state. The sound of the gongs and bowls are calming and one of many methods used for relaxation and meditation. Inducing a sense of peacefulness when coupled with intention we can raise the body’s vibrational frequency.
A gong bath is a form of sound therapy where a gong is played during a one to one or group session. The term “Gong Bath” refers that you are bathed in sound waves, no water involved or clothes removed.
All you have to be is comfortable and prepared to relax a little. Playing technique changes frequently so there is no fixed rhythm. Resulting in the brain not being able to follow and entrainment takes place. Entrainment is the changing of brainwave frequencies. An Alpha brainwave state is achieved very quickly, followed by the Theta brainwave state.
Alpha waves are defined as brainwave frequencies between 8 and 12 Hz. Daydreaming, imagination and associative thinking are present in states of relaxation.
Theta waves are defined as brainwave frequencies between 4 and 7 Hz. Theta waves occur during dreaming sleep or REM (rapid eye movement) sleep and can occur during deep meditation.
Theta brainwave frequencies are most often where the gongs will take you. You will most likely enter a dreamlike deep meditative state and it is possible to enter the Delta brainwave state (deep sleep frequency). Theta brainwave is a good state of consciousness to be in for healing to occur.
Towards the end of a session actions/sounds start to fade away to nothing. A little time here can be spent with bells, rattles and sounding bowls as a means of grounding everybody ready for a return to the room and action.
The sound produced is organic, deep and nurturing with “living tones” which can build upon each other and evolve on their own, producing a sea of sound. One feels the vibration as well as hears it. Uniting the mind and the heart in an embrace that can create blissful feelings affecting us at the deepest levels. Within the practice we can release tension, blockages and the mind is able to stop its chattering for a short time. The experiencing can lead to a ‘release’. This can take the form of an emotional, mental or physical reaction as the vibrations work on the various energy centres within the body (chakras)
Frequency and its effects
Many now believe that modern day music and television programs are set at a lower frequency of 440Hz, which can stimulate fear, sickness and oppression.
Over the original 432 Hz, that is said to be the natural frequency of the universe, to have cosmic healing powers
When our environment and your body begin vibrating at a lower frequency, it can cause illness throughout your body, mind and spirit. When in harmony, it vibrates at the frequency of 62-68Hz and anything lower than this could lead to a weak immune system.
For example, cold or flu is believed to start around 58Hz, whereas cancer can appear around 42Hz. In addition, before death our energy dips below 20 Hz.
Some of the things that lower our vibrational energy are:
Stress, anger and anxiety
Negative thoughts and toxic people
Habits like smoking, drinking and drug abuse
Unhealthy diet and consuming too much processed food
Electromagnetic waves from equipment like mobile phones etc.
Radiation from microwaves, WIFI
Exposure to chemicals and pesticides
Watching violent movies or TV shows
In contrast, we have frequencies that stimulate healing and bring about regeneration.
These frequencies are known as the Solfeggio scale. It understood/believed to have been used in ancient sacred music and Gregorian chants for healing purposes.
Six main tones of the Solfeggio scale are:
396 Hz: Helps in emancipation from guilt and fear
417 Hz: Helps us to deal with changes in life
528 Hz: Helps in bringing love in the atmosphere
741 Hz: Helps in solving problems, is a powerful cleanser.
852 Hz: Helps in awakening of the soul, also develops intuition.
963Hz: Helps in connecting us with God.
Cymatics is the study of sound and vibration made visible, typically on the surface of a plate, diaphragm or membrane. Direct ocular viewing of vibrations involves exciting inorganic matter such as particulate matter, pastes (both magnetic and non-magnetic) and liquids under the influence of sound.
Named 'Cymatics' by Hans Jenny, a Swiss medical doctor and a pioneer in this field. The word 'Cymatics' derives from the Greek 'Kuma' meaning 'billow' or 'wave,' to describe the periodic effects that sound and vibration has on matter.
The apparatus employed can be simple, such as a Chladni Plate (a flat brass plate excited by a violin bow) or advanced such as the CymaScope, a laboratory instrument co-invented by English acoustics engineer, John Stuart Reid, that makes visible the inherent geometries within sound and music.
Fill in the form below and a member of the team will contact you back shortly...