Ahhh, the beautiful experience of Tibetan bowl meditation. Perhaps you find yourself walking down the market streets of India, dodging dogs and making way for cows. You are hailed by a shopkeeper and you notice many musical instruments hanging behind him. The gentleman is very insistent with you that you need this little bowl in his hand as he gestures to the many more of all shapes and sizes that were laid out behind him.
Have you seen these meditation bowls before? Perhaps not! But maybe you are curious about what this little bowl is and how it works. He tells you it is for your chakras and meditation. What could this mean? How do you do it?
You smile and sit with the man in his shop. You pay for the bowl. If you are bad at haggling, then you also pay separately (and more) for the bamboo striker that you need to make the sound. Even though you thought it came together with the price you paid for the bowl. But no matter.
You thank the man and tell him you are happy. He responds saying ¨If you are happy…I am happy!¨
You exit the shop and continue down the street of the market and suddenly the rag-tag buildings all around you begin to change and fall away into the sand. Then, you find yourself standing on the famous beaches of Arambol, India and you sit.
You begin to play the beautiful sound of the bowl as you listen to her sing a tune of peace and harmony that reaches across the vast expanse of the seemingly infinite ocean and penetrates deep into the farthest reaches of your heart.
Perhaps you did not have quite the same experience when you came across your first Tibetan Bowl or maybe you have never owned one and are simply curious about the concept. The Tibetan Bowls are designed to produce a charming, vibrant sound. The bowls are designed in such a way to resonate with each of the 7 chakras. For example, you may acquire a red bowl with the symbol of the heart chakra designed within it. The idea is that the Tibetan Bowl will specifically target and focus on opening up and activating the chakra it resonates with.
A Tibetan Meditation bowl is easy to use. You simply hold your palm completely flat (This is important or it will be tough to work properly) and place the bowl in your palm, unless the bowl is too large to hold. Strike the bowl and run the striker around the rim of the outside of your bowl. The movement of the striker around the bowl will cause the sound of the bowl to continue until you wish to stop. You may also wish for someone else to play the bowl for you while you are meditating alone or with a group.
Tibetan Bowls Origin
The Tibetan meditation bowls are also referred to as ¨singing¨ bowls, come from within the magical mountains of Tibet. Information on the exact origin and creation of singing bowls has all but been eradicated due to China´s infiltration of Tibet and the destruction of nearly all of her monasteries. It is sad, but this occupation and destruction is still occurring and has been occurring for nearly 60 years.
Regardless, the bowls traveled their way through ancient trade routes and filtered into Southeast Asia. Over the last 17 years, keen travelers from the west have carried these beautiful, vibrating bowls from their original home into the western world.
The Benefits of Tibetan Bowl Meditation
Utilizing a Tibetan singing bowl into your meditation practice will bring a sense of variety to your practice and other benefits as well. A singing bowl is a useful tool for meditation that will fit in well as you develop and create your personal meditation space. There are so many different designs and colors to choose from that resonate with your personal frequency like this beautiful blue and golden-silver designed bowl.
Here are some of the benefits you may experience from practicing your Tibetan bowl meditation:
- Promotes a deep, healthy, and relaxed state of mind
- Assists in reducing stress and anxiety
- Balancing of your 7 different chakras
- Bolstering and strengthening your immune system
The results of a study published in the American Journal of Health Production in 2014 showed a reduction in systolic blood pressure in participants that listened to the singing bowl for 12 minutes
You may notice that these benefits are similar to what you would imagine music to do for us as humans. Listening and playing music has been shown through research to have healing benefits similar to that of your Tibetan singing bowl.
Using Your Meditation Bowl
When you first start using your new singing bowl you may find it difficult to get the bowl to produce sound. Or perhaps you are having difficulty continuing the sound! Don´t get frustrated! This is normal at first.
When you are practicing your Tibetan bowl meditation it is important to remember that this is meditation. You should strive to be mindful of your sitting position, your shoulders should be pulled back and level, your neck, and spine…straight.
You can run through our Beginner´s Guide to Meditation for tips on sitting for meditation properly and having the proper posture for an effective meditation session. A good trick that I would use in my day to day life to keep a straight spine (even when not meditating) would be to breathe in as DEEEEP as I could – which will cause your chest to heave…then, when you breathe out, simply allow the breath to escape but do not allow your chest to fall.
Then repeat this process while essentially trying to lift your chest with your breath as far as it will go. You can also follow along with this video here to have a visual guide on how to properly create and maintain the rhythmic song of your singing bowl:
Holding Your Bowl
Unless you are using a very large singing bowl that doesn’t require you to hold it then we will first start with how to hold your bowl in your hand. It is important to hold your palm completely flat. If you do not keep your palm flat then the ridges of your palm will touch the sides of the bowl which will interfere with the vibration of the bowl.
It is also more important to note that you do not want to wrap your fingers around the bowl as if you are clasping an object. Instead, you will hold your palm entirely flat while your fingertips are outstretched and straight without touching the bowl. This will again remove the interference you might be experiencing with the sound of your singing bowl.
Sounding Your Bowl
Now, to produce the vibrational frequency of sound you will want to tap the side of the bowl with the striker to produce the resonance. You will then take the striker and slide it around the outside rim of your singing bowl. You will find that as you go faster it will manipulate the sound and speed up and become more intense until your bowl can no longer handle it. Remember, sound is vibration!
Also, ensure that you are using your whole arm when moving the stick around the outside of the bowl. Don´t just use your wrist! Whoooooole arm and press the striker firmly against the outside rim of the bowl to keep the song singing.
When your physical motions become too intense for your particular singing bowl; the sound will start to ¨chatter¨. This is essentially the bowl vibrating so intensely that the striker stick is literally bouncing off the rim of the bowl and repeatedly tapping it due to the vibration. You can fix this by simply slowing down the speed at which you run the wooden striker around the rim of the bowl.
That’s it though! You got this!
And The Song Subsides…
As you end your Tibetan bowl meditation the song of your singing bowl will also subside into the sweet abyss of silence. Allow the peacefulness of this moment to wash through you and over you. Now that you can use your Tibetan meditation bowl, don ́t be afraid to get creative! I actually use my bamboo striker to trill the strings of my guitar while setting the bowl somewhere close to the guitar so I can tap my bowl in beat with my song.
It is all open and free, as things are 🙂 Safe journeys and meditate well, my friends!