How To Heal With Singing Bowls. Singing bowls or standing bells are often thought of as having origins in India, Nepal, and Tibet’s Buddhist cultures. However, sound bowls can be traced back to many cultures, the oldest being China.
The earliest recorded evidence thus far of the signing bowl can be traced back to China’s Shang Dynasty, between the 16th to 11th centuries BCE, and are among the oldest Bronze artifacts ever discovered in China.
Other names used for singing bowls include, but are not limited to:
- Resting bells
- Tibetian singing bowls
- Buddha bowls
- Himalayan bowls
- Rin gong
- Temple bells
- Campana di templo
- Cup gong and more
One thing they all share, however, is the healing and calming power of sound and vibration.
Often associated with Buddhist and Hindu traditions, they are said to pre-date these religions, with evidence showing they were likely used in the shamanic Bon traditions of the Himalayan regions.
While the oldest standing bells were made from bronze, most modern singing bowls are made of an alloy of copper and tin. Some are hand beaten, and others are manufactured on a machine like a lathe.
In recent times, singing bowls have also been made out of other materials, like crushed and molded quartz or synthetic crystal.
How is a Singing Bowl Played?
Singing bowls can be played in one of two ways. One way is to strike the bowl with a beater, or a mallet, like a struck idiophone, like a bell or gong.
The other way to play a singing bowl is like a friction idiophone. You may have seen this phenomenon demonstrated on a crystal wine glass with a wet finger being moved around the rim until the light friction vibrates the glass making the natural vibratory tone of the bowl-shaped vessel ring until the friction ceases.
In the same way, you can use a wooden or plastic striker or padded mallet to achieve the same effect. Although a perfect pitch can be achieved by machine manufacturing, traditional or antique hand-beaten bowls often have a unique tone.
For thousands of years, cultures have purported the healing and spiritual properties of vibration, whether that be the chanting of monks, church choirs or singing bowls. Like using friction on crystal glasses, water can be added to a singing bowl to alter the pitch and tone.
How To Heal With Singing Bowls Heal the Mind, Body and Spirit?
How To Heal With Singing Bowls. Although the science behind the effectiveness of using singing bowls for physical healing is anecdotal and contradictory, many allied and alternative health professionals and many of their clients have sung the praises of sound therapy using singing bowls.
One decorated medical professional who championed the use of sound therapy, primarily with singing bowls, in harmony with modern medicine was a pioneering integrative oncologist, internist and hematologist Dr Mitchel Gaynor MD (now deceased).
As well as a respected oncologist, Dr Gaynor was also an assistant professor at Weill Cornell Medical College and director of medical oncology at the Strang Cancer Prevention Center in New York.
Dr Gaynor was introduced to singing bowls in 1991 after treating Odsal, a refugee Tibetan monk with a rare cardiac condition.
After his profound experiences, Dr Gaynor would take a more holistic approach to medicine, incorporating traditional medicine, Eastern medicine, nutrition, meditation, and sound therapy into his practices.
Dr Gaynor’s explanation of the effects of sound therapy is that when a patient is exposed to the combination of the vibrations and sounds from the bowl, they move into a relaxed meditative state, decreasing inflammatory stress hormones, like cortisol.
When the nervous system and the human fight or flight response caused by trauma and disease can be calmed and regulated, it can help to create brain and heart coherence.
These relaxed and altered states can aid the immune system, and the body’s other natural healing processes work more effectively, helping in the treatment and recovery of acute or severe diseases and conditions.
While the medical community at large was reluctant to accept the research and claims made by Dr Gaynor entirely, he was unwavering in his commitment to sound therapy as a complementary healing modality up until his untimely passing in 2015.
If you would like to know more about Dr Gaynor’s research and practices, he authored and co-authored several books throughout his career, including The Healing Power of Sound in 1999.
Some of the illnesses, disorders and diseases that sound therapy advocates and patients have said to have experienced relief or additional healing from include:
- Chronic pain
- Sleep disorders
- Some symptoms of PTSD
- Stress and trauma-related conditions and more
Evidence of the healing power of singing bowls or standing bells is so far anecdotal; the scientific consensus is unclear, and the theories surrounding sound therapy require much more study.
This being said, even if the positive effects of sound therapy come down to the placebo effect, many researchers and medical scientists interested in the field of placebo research indicate that this phenomenon could have significant medical applications in the future. Only study, research, testing and time will reveal the truth in years to come.
Have you experienced a singing bowl healing? Have you ever played a singing bowl? Do you use singing bowls in your Yoga practice? Some say that a standing bell will only sing if it is the correct bowl for you; what do you think?
The team here at My Free Yoga love to experiment with different Yoga styles, traditions and complimentary items like singing bowls. If you want to read more interesting Yoga articles like How To Heal With Singing Bowls, why not follow us on Facebook and Instagram