How to Play A Tibetan Singing Bowl

The use of Tibetan bowls for healing and meditation is a technique that has been around for centuries. They are found in monasteries, homes, and it is likely you have come across one at a meditation group or yoga class. They can be a very powerful spiritual tool, but don't be intimidated, Tibetan bowls can be played and enjoyed by everyone (no matter their spiritual path).

When it comes to purchasing your first singing bowl, I typically recommend trying a Tibetan bowl first, as they are more durable than a crystal or porcelain singing bowl. Tibetan bowls are traditionally made from 7 different metals (each to represent a different planet). This durability lets you experiment with different healing techniques, such as filling the bowl with water or placing it on the body, with less of a risk of damage.

As for which Tibetan bowl to buy, that is where your intuition needs to come into play to give you your final answer. It might be difficult, but try and buy your bowl in person, or at least on a website that gives you a preview of the sound. There is a large variety between bowls, and you have many choices to choose from! Big bowls will have a deeper resonance, whereas smaller bowls will be higher pitched. Many people like to look for a bowl whose note corresponds with a specific chakra (C/root, D/sacral, E/solar plexus, F/heart, G/throat, A/third eye, B/crown). As tempted as I am to go out and find a variety of different bowls to add to my collection, I try to purposefully only get the bowls that really jump out as special to me. Remember that especially with singing bowls, it is all about intention, and you can heal the whole body/every chakra with one bowl if you wish. Allow your collection to grow over time, and revel in the individuality of each bowl.

Okay, everyone have their bowls? Awesome! Let's play!

Hold the bowl in the palm of your non-dominant hand. Be sure not to touch the sides of the bowl as that is where the vibration resonates from.

With the striker, gently strike the bowl to get the vibration going.

Try rubbing the outside rim in a circular motion, keeping an even pressure. Getting your Tibetan bowl to sing like this takes practice, so keep at it!

Many people enjoy the sound of Tibetan bowls because they can psychically feel the vibration deep within them. When listening, breathe deeply and perhaps visualize the waves of sounds working their way through your body, leaving only positivity and relaxation in their wake.

Although you can heal by merely holding the bowl or being near it as it plays, there are many other techniques you can try! Here are some ideas:

Lie down, and place the bowl on the chest, belly, above your head, or between your legs. With the striker, gong the side of the bowl and allow it to resonate through your body for at least 20 seconds until you strike again. 

Once you have mastered playing the bowl while it rests on you, take it up a notch. Fill the bowl no more then 1/4 of the way full with warm water, and place it on your body. Strike, and allow to resonate for at least 20 seconds.

If you have two bowls, place one on your body while laying down, and one on the floor a few inches above the head.

Take turns with a partner placing it on each others backs and shoulders and playing, experimenting the difference in sensation between just striking and rubbing the bowl.

Experiment with different strikers and tools to learn the differences between their results.

If you have a big enough bowl, turn it upside down and put it on your head! (You likely want to put a small cloth or cushion between the bowl and your head to help it balance so you don't hurt yourself or the bowl.) With a slightly downward motion, strike the side of the bowl and allow the vibration to flood through your body. This can be a great way to relieve headaches or stress!

What is this bowl doing on my head?

In the following video, I demonstrate three beginner techniques using a suede covered tool, a wooden tool, and a felt mallet, along with how to play the bowl while it is on your head.

Bowls get better as they age, so whenever you feel compelled to play, do so!

Have you ever played a singing bowl? What singing bowls do you have?

Chakra Series: Root

Muladhara (the root chakra) is commonly represented as a red flower with four petals.

Let's kick off this chakra series at the 'root' of it all:  Muladhara, the root chakra.

Firstly, what are the main elements associated with this chakra?

The root chakra is connected to the phrase "I am!" Located at the base of the spine, this chakra is associated with grounding and allows us to connect to the earth's energies. The physical influences of the root chakra include the spine, legs, feet, bones, immune systems, adrenal glands, colon, kidneys, and the coccyx. Emotionally, it is about intuition, confidence, and survival. It is commonly associated with the color red, which offers a healing vibration for emaciation, depression, or lethargy.

So how do you know if your root chakra is unbalanced? Physically, you may experience symptoms such as lower back pain, constipation, fatigue, immune disorders, or foot/leg injuries. Emotionally, you may feel fearful, violent, angry, insecure, disconnected, or unstable.

If you believe your root chakra is unbalanced or blocked, there are a variety of things you can do to help. 

Carrying, wearing, and meditating with crystals such as hematite, red jasper, black onyx, and smokey quartz, can help as they carry positive grounding energy. I have quite a few friends who have found it extremely helpful during stressful times to wear hematite bracelets or rings.

A chakra directly influenced by physical activity, exercise (such as a brisk walk or yoga) can help open up your root chakra. In particular, focus on yoga poses that help to ground, stabilize and connect, such as standing forward bend, mountain pose, or squatting. Throughout your yoga practice, visualize roots growing from the base of your spine, down your legs, and through your feet to the floor, imbedding in the nurturing soil beneath the earth's surface.

You can listen to Tibetan or crystal singing bowls, specifically the note "C", which is known for its grounding qualities. Check to see if someone in your area does singing bowl therapy, or track down a CD and listen with headphones in to get the full effect.

Additionally, warming essential oils, such as nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, myrrh, and patchouli can be helpful used as aromatherapy.

And finally, find a grounding mantra to repeat to yourself during times of stress, meditation, or savasana. If possible, find time to mediate outside and/or in the morning. Try using the mantra "LAM" (a cleansing, clearing mantra to open the root chakra), or find another suitable mantra for yourself such as "I am grounded. I am balanced. I am safe. I am calm. I am strong. I am centered. I am worthy of all things beautiful."

Up next on the chakra series is the sacral chakra, so stay tuned!

Chakra Series

My large selenite wand is a great recharging station for my chakra crystals.

First off, what is a chakra?

The body has 7 main energy centers, known as chakras. From bottom to top, they are:  root,  sacral, solar plexus, heart, third eye, and crown. These energy centers allow energy to flow from one part of your body to the other. The position of each chakra is in correspondence to our endocrine glads that are responsible for the release of hormones in our body, keeping them in balance and controlling major nerve functions (keeping us healthy). When your chakras are aligned and functioning properly, you feel a sense of physical, emotional, and spiritual balance. When misaligned or blocked, we can experience a wide range of symptoms and feel a sense of unease.

There are a variety of methods to help correct the flow of energy in your body, specific to what chakra is in need of some extra attention. This series will explore each chakra individually and give suggestions for healing, including the use of crystals, essential oils, yoga, and sound therapy.

First up: the root chakra!