Throughout the centuries, various cultures from ancient Greece to India, China and Tibet used the power of sound in healing ceremonies. Tibetan singing bowls (also known as Himalayan singing bowls), gongs and other cymbals have been used for centuries as instruments for healing, meditation and rituals.
Basically, everything in the entire universe is energy and this energy is constantly in motion, vibrating. Every physical object, including you and me or the chair you are sitting on, are in fact vibrating, resonating, at various frequencies. According to research study (H.H. Mitchell, Journal of Biological Chemistry 158), around 60% of our bodies is made up of water and most of the water is in our cells. As water is a good conductor of sound, the sound can travel as the carrier of frequencies throughout the body at the cellular level. In this way, the sounds and vibrations of the Tibetan singing bowls and the other sound healing instruments used during a sound bath or a sound healing session affect every cell in our body.
There is a large number of scientific studies devoted to the analysis of the Tibetan singing bowls’ vibrational-acoustic effect. According to these studies, the soothing, resonant sounds of the Tibetan singing bowls can affect neurology as well as the psychology of the listener. The sounds from the singing bowls used during a sound meditation affect the frequencies of the brain waves, helping the brain to enter the Theta state (4-8 Hz). This is the state that occurs when we are in deep relaxation, it is the gateway to creativity, learning, memory and intuition. In the Theta state, our senses are withdrawn from the outer world and focused on our inner world. Therefore, during a sound healing session, some may experience different emotions, feel vibrations in parts of their body, see visuals and even experience past memories.
Each person has their own vibration which is as unique as their fingerprint or signature. This vibration is the product of all the processes that run our physical bodies as well as our mental, emotional and subtle bodies. Stress and negative emotions create blockages of a healthy energy flow, making our bodies fall out of vibrational harmony and develop illness. Various diseases, from heart disease and diabetes to mental health issues and addiction, have all been linked to stress and tension. During a sound healing session, we use sound coupled with intention, directing sound vibration to relax and raising the body’s vibrational frequency thus, our self-healing.
About Tibetan Singing Bowls
According to experts, Tibetan singing bowls originate from the wider Himalayan region and not specifically from Tibet (that’s why they are also called Himalayan singing bowls). They say that the existence of singing bowls dates back to about 2,400 years back to the time of the Buddha. The tradition has been passed down from generation to generation in India, Nepal and Tibet through oral teaching in a highly structured family tribe or caste system. However, there is no historical reference in surviving texts on the existence and use of Tibetan bowls for two main reasons. On one hand, because the singing bowls have been associated with the Bön tradition which was of a shamanistic nature, something that orthodox Buddhists avoid being associated with. Also, due to the destruction of Tibetan monasteries after the invasion of China in 1950 the Tibetan singing bowls that were housed in the monasteries of the area were also lost. The singing bowls weren’t used for entertainment and music rather for spiritual practices, for healing purposes and for meditation.
Traditionally, the handmade Himalayan singing bowls were made out of seven metals, and each of these metals is associated with a musical note, a planet, as well as one of the energy fields of the human body (also known as chakras). Each of these seven metals produces a distinct sound and all together a multidimensional sound. The proportions of the metals vary in each bowl. That’s why each handmade singing bowl has its own particular sound. If you strike a singing bowl and listen carefully you will notice that with each strike the sound is slightly different but also consists of thinner layers of sound-harmonics.
The Benefits of Tibetan Singing Bowls
In a 2016 study: Effects of Singing Bowl Sound Meditation on Mood, Tension, and Well-being: An Observational Study, following the sound meditation session, participants reported significantly less muscle tension, anger, fatigue, and depressed mood, suggesting that sound therapy may be good for your physical as well as emotional well-being.
“Sound can help shift our energy frequency from lower to higher, removing the lower frequencies of emotions such as fear, anger, and resentment.”
Suren Shrestha | master Tibetan bowl practicioner
In order to better explain the use of the Tibetan singing bowls on the human body we can compare the human body to a musical instrument. When the instrument is out of tune the sound produced is inharmonious. It is the same with the human body; when the body’s energetic fields are out of balance (or out of tune), the person’s health is in question. During a sound healing session or a Tibetan sound massage with the Tibetan singing bowls, singing bowls are placed onto and around the human body and act as “tuning forks” restoring the chakras’ healthy and harmonious vibration. When there is deep relaxation through the soothing, resonant sound of the singing bowls, the body is affected on a cellular level, opening up the flow of energy to move us back toward vibrational alignment with health. After a sound healing session, most people have a feeling of peace, harmony and well-being; they feel present, centered, and in-tune.
According to American author and spiritual teacher Ted Andrews, the sounds of bowls resonate with every cell in the body to release barriers, restore balance in the body’s energy field, help restore blood pressure, open and balance the meridians, and stimulate the immune system.
What is a sound bath?
A sound bath is a session during which patients lie on the ground as they are ‘bathed’ by soothing therapeutic sounds by a variety of sound healing instruments including the Tibetan singing bowls, the crystal bowls, the gong, the native American drum, the monochord, energy chimes, voice and more. It is a deeply meditative, full-body listening experience that can be done in both private and group settings. Typically the participants lay down on their backs often with a blanket and an eye mask. The participants keep their eyes closed throughout the entire session, which usually lasts around 1 to 1 and half hours or more, allowing them to let go completely and relax every limb in their body. Sound baths act as sound meditation sessions and are ideal for beginning meditators who want to experience deep meditative states. According to studies, sound baths, can help people relax, let go of tension and tiredness, and improve depression symptoms. You can find out more information about the benefits of a sound bath as well as what to expect.