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?