The Sound of Eternity
In 2010 I jetted off to spend three weeks teaching young monks English at Buddhist monasteries in Nepal. That was a great experience in its own, however, what I took back morphed into something even bigger than I hadn’t seen coming.
Discovering a different culture and learning from it can be profound. I had a small list on me with things I was hoping to bring back. Among prayer flags, incenses, mala beads and a small Buddha figurine was also a small singing bowl. These I had seen here and there in the West but they didn’t bear any connection had I simply bought them. It means so much more to me to have a personal memory or experience attached to an object.
When I was unexpectedly introduced to a large healing bowl atop the Swayambhunath Stupa and saw the water splashing up when hit with a mallet, I was hooked. The word “healing” did it for me since I practice subtle energy healing. And I hadn’t mentioned that to anyone there. Still I might have well simply fallen prey to a standard marketing trick, since a book of mine mentions just that, and that there are only singing bowls, no healing bowls – albeit they may have a healing influence on our body. But did it matter? No! Because I took home a beautiful bowl with mysterious inscriptures and a beautiful humming sound that evokes beautiful memories of a few short weeks away in the Himalayas.
When I began to look more into the inscripted symbolism I found out that next to the big lotus petals on the bottom, which represent a chakra, the inscriptures along the inside wall depict the eight auspicious symbols which are the traditional offerings to the deities in Buddhist mythology. The outside wall shows the traditional prayer “Om mani peme hung” in Sanskrit symbols. The note of it is a C, which corresponds either with the base or the sacral chakra, depending on if you follow the Vedic or Tibetan belief.
On my daily walk to the monastery in Nepal, I passed a singing bowl manufacturer who was busily hammering away on a piece of metal alloy, shaping it into a bowl. I hadn’t fully grasped the concept of singing bowls at that point and regret that I didn’t spent more time watching him. I definitely will should I ever be in Kathmandu again!
Unfortunately, these magnificent bowls hold more mysteries than what is known about them. The tradition of making them is said to date back to the time of the Buddha – approx. 2000 years. Nowadays it is said that they are a dying art and that most knowledge about them is dying with the old bowl makers.
Singing bowls are said to have traditionally been made by hand in varying quantities of seven metals representing the seven heavenly bodies as well as the seven chakras and a corresponding musical note. However, research has found that most bowls mainly consist of copper and tin. There are two different belief systems that connect musical notes with chakras, the Tibetan and the Vedic system. But I suggest you just listen to your intuition.
Bowls originate in Asia and you can hear them being called Tibetan or Himalayan Bowls. There are also bowls that come from Japan or China. They are all basically bells that sit rather than hang but are actually not commonly found in temples or stupas. A lot of bowls are made with machinery nowadays which affects their sound and they sometimes don’t ring as long or full as the traditionally handmade bowls.
Bowls vary in size and some have a more golden colour, others might be darker. Some have symbols or inscriptures on them, others are plain. Though the way it looks will be pleasing on the eye and an impressive object in the room, but in the end it is the sound that promotes healing.
As mentioned in my Linseed Tea blog, our body consists of about 70% of water and that it is therefore important to keep ourselves properly hydrated. Sound waves can have an influence on the fluid part of our body and can release tensions. This is called “Sound Healing”. Everything around us consists of atoms that vibrate at a different speed. Bowls, when struck, vibrate. This vibration translates onto the body, either by placing the bowl directly onto the body or carried forth by sound waves. Because of the vibrations, singing bowls are just as effective for those who are hard of hearing.
Eva Rudy Jansen describes in her book “Singing Bowls – A practical Handbook” that sound creates and arranges. She further explains that a healthy organ is well tuned, vibrating at its own frequency, whereas the frequency of a sick organ is disturbed. Singing bowls can assist to recreate the original harmonic frequency and stimulate the body to rediscover its own by making it vibrate to the frequency of the bowl so that it can vibrate independently once it is synchronized.
“Anyone who expects something from sound will make the greatest discovery by not expecting anything.” Eva Rudy Jansen
Beside the vibrations, sound can act as a focus for our mind and help us relax, calm down and shift from lower emotions to higher. Suren Shrestha says in his book “How to Heal with Singing Bowls”: “When we use sound with intention, which is the most important aspect of healing, we can direct sound vibrations to raise the body’s vibrational frequency.” He describes the vibrational influence of sound on our body fluid as “creating a mandala which is healing and relaxing”. No need to belief in any of the mysticism surround singing bowls or any of its inscriptures. They are art, sound, history and a simple tool to assist relaxation.
A few weeks ago I acquired another smaller bowl with a more golden appearance and a magnificent and clear high sound of G. There wasn’t much information of its history available, but its sound resonated with me, which was my main interest.
I chose my singing bowls to be part of my meditation and relaxation session at our monthly Mini Retreat to share their magic, to offer participant’s the chance to get from them whatever it is that they need and to enhance overall relaxation. Do book yourself in if you would like to experience a sound bath with my singing bowls and keep hydrated with linseed tea to receive sound to the fullest! And if you are interested I would love to show you the effect of sound on water when playing the bowl when it is actually filled with water! 😉
“Your sound bath/meditation was so soothing and spiritual.” Alexia
“The need for music, the urge to dive into a world filled with colour and sound. Into absolute silence and equality. To dance under rays of sun, under a rainbow of emotions. To find complete happiness, without fear of failing. To find oneself. To master challenges. And to know in the end that it was worth it.”
Anna Hoffmann, 2004
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