There is so much I want to write about the mystery and beauty of singing bowls, but I will start here.
I don't recall when I first became acquainted with singing bowls. As a young musician and martial arts practitioner with a curiosity about eastern philosophies and Zen teachings, I always sort of knew of them, but nothing about them.
My interest was re-awakened on may last trip abroad to further my studies in Lomi Lomi massage. A fellow student at the end of one days works,asked me if we could experiment with one of the 2 singing bowls in the studio and try to experiment with the effect of the vibrations on the body. First, I don't think this particular bowl was very good quality, and second I had no real idea what I was doing, but it ignited a spark in my head, to learn more.
That led to me to Rain Gray, a musicologist and I think one of the foremost experts of Tibetan or Himalayan singing bowls. What I learned is that each one is unique, a delicate musical instrument that cannot be tuned. I also learned that no two bowls are alike. This was fascinating. You cant just buy any bowl. Rain estimates that for every bowl he approves, he samples or listens to maybe 100.
It turns out that the origins of singing bowls is a bit fuzzy and may have been lost to time. There has been much speculation as to what they were used for. It is said that all bowls today originated from 3 original singing bowls - still said to be in existence and secretly guarded.
From their lofty and magical homeland Tibetan singing bowls have traveled across the Himalayas, through valleys, and along ancient trade routes. Brought back to the west by jet-age travelers, these mysterious objects have aroused interest and curiosity about their origin and traditional usage. Their story, however, has laid hidden like the mysterious Himalayas, obscured by clouds.
Due to the communist Chinese military occupation of Tibet in the 1950's, and the subsequent, almost total, destruction of its monasteries (and 1.2 million Tibetan people, many of them monks and nuns, that perished during and after that time), the esoteric knowledge of the Tibetan singing bowls has all but disappeared. And although it has been more than thirty years since Tibetan singing bowls and their incredible sounds were first introduced to the western world, little has been written about them.
I am not an expert in Buddhism, Mediation, Chakras. There are plenty of people who ascribe mystical properties to the bowls. But what I offer you and describe to you is their effect on me, as a layperson.
First every singing bowl is different, and the quality varies dramatically. My modest collection of singing bowls are of the 17th & 18th century and so I can speak particularly about those. Each bowl is precisely tuned to a note at the rim and within the body of the bowl. These notes correspond to Chakras. The bowl I will present below has a rim tone of D which corresponds to the Sacral Chakra.
The Sacral Chakra is your passion and pleasure centre and it is located in the pelvic area. While the Root Chakra is satisfied with survival, the 2nd chakra seeks pleasure and enjoyment.
The sound is haunting, mesmerizing, calming. When a singing bowl is played, you cannot help but stop and listen. Even my dog, who is very hyper - upon hearing the bowl stops and stares in a trance like state.
I use the bowls often. Sometimes at length, but often briefly - to bring me instantly to a place of calm and peace. My heart rate lowers, by breathing slows and slowly the fainest of smiles washes over my body and makes it way to my lips in the form of the slightest nearly imperceptible up curl.
If you would like to experience this magic, ask me about singing bowls when you book your appointment.
Alongside my experience as a trained massage therapist, I have a continuing, life-long passion for music. I am moved by music and often it is the first and most important aspect of taking me "away" to another mood, and bringing me into the present. Music moves me as it moves many people.
Being massaged and listening to music are two of the great pleasures in life, but all too often, a massage is conducted to a randomly-chosen New Age CD. Massage married to perfect music is a radically different experience. A truly music-loving therapist wants to the recipient to leave the session aurally-transported and more wholly satisfied. For me music also helps with my timing and rhythyms, especially during a Lomi session.
For routine clients, I have often made custom playlists, but as well have found that many enjoy what I have selected.
The creation of the perfect music/massage session hinges on choosing the right music for the session. A good DJ knows how to fit the music to the mood of the audience, and this is particularly important when combining music and therapy. The client is generally in a surrendered state with heightened receptivity and the slightest input can affect the body and mind in a magnified way.
The proper auditory ambiance can really help the client "drift away". While the wrong music (or volume) can be jarring, and cause restlessness and unease.
When I receive a massage I personally enjoy taking a musical journey around the world – ambient and sometimes rhythmic tracks from different genres, multi-layered and complex. Because of my musical training the brain receptors seem to be able to cope with more auditory information. This might not suit everyone and indeed people generally find it easier to reach a state of 'no mind', if the ears don't have to wrap themselves around music that requires more conscious and dedicated listening.
If you have noticed this difference and would like to share a comment, please do so.
For more information on music and massage contact me through this site.
I write about things that I myself need to be mindful of. ways in which I would like to improve. It is not from the perspective of preaching - but rather writing helps me work out what I myself need to do - we are all in this together.