When it comes to using sound to aid meditation another form of music that is now popular worldwide is the Tibetan singing bowls. Tibetan signing bowls have been used in the Himalayas for meditational practices and personal wellbeing for thousands of years. The bowls are made from bronze and each bowls sound is limited by its size and shape and the mallet used to play the bowl. The bowls can be struck to produce a ringing bell tone or the mallet can be used to make circular motions around the rim of the bowl to produce musical sounds.
Listening to Tibetan singing bowls has the power to create a profound sense of calm, through projecting vibrational sounds into the body in what has been described as transporting the listener through a vibrational doorway (Richardson, 1999), due to the acoustic coupling. Aarts, Ouweltjes and Bulut (2014), have hypothesised that the relaxation effect produced through listening to the singing bowls occurs through brainwave entrainment, created by the generation of a frequency of auditory beats that corresponding to the listener’s EEB alpha range.
In practical scientific terms, studies have found that the use of Tibetan singing bowls aids traumatized children to achieve mindful states of peace (Bergmann, 2002). Additionally, studies are also producing evidence that demonstrate the singing bowls abilities to improve physical health. For example, in 2014, Landry found that adding the sound of a singing bowl to a relaxation session produced greater decline in blood pressure and heart rate than that of the control group that did not experience the singing bowls. Additionally, Arts, Ouweltjes & Bulut (2014), have designed an electroacoustic version (eBowl) of a Tibetan singing bowl, which has produced significant physiological results associated with relaxation, heart rate, breathing and skin temperature.
Although exploring the properties and practices associated with singing bowls is relative new in western scientific literature, and therefore limiting the literature of the positive health benefits (Tuls Halstead & Tuls Roscoe, 2002), there is a wide variety of information available from various alternative health websites that incorporate Tibetan singing bowls as a form of therapy. In contemporary society, sound healing via listening to singing bowls is currently being used in healthcare by psychotherapists; massage therapists; and recovery stress and meditation specialists (Aarts, Ouweltjes & Bulut, 2014). These alternative health practitioners claim that the vibrational sounds produced by the singing bowls restore health to mind, body and spirit, through restoring the normal vibratory frequencies at a cellular level. This is why the singing bowls are not only heard with the ears, but also felt within the mind and body.
In conclusion, using Tibetan singing bowls in your meditation practice is certainly worth trying. This music is not just listened to but actually felt through the subtle vibrations that resonate within. You may just find yourself being transported through a vibrational doorway of peace and serenity, while your body restores itself at a cellular level.
For your convenience here’s a YouTube link of an excellent recording of Tibetan singing bowls. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rOFTDCoxedc
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Aarts, R. M., Ouweltjes, O., & Bulut, M. (2014). An electro-acoustic implementation of tibetan bowls: Acoustics and perception. Noise & Vibration Worldwide, 45(1), 12-23. doi:10.1260/0957-45188.8.131.52
Bergmann, K. (2002). The sound of trauma: Music therapy in a post-war environment.Australian Journal of Music Therapy, 133-16. Retrieved from
Landry, J. M. (2014). Physiological and psychological effects of a Himalayan singing bowl in meditation practice: A quantitative analysis. American Journal of Health Promotion, 28(5),306-309.
Richardson, D. (1999). Thea Surasu: Singing Bowls of Shangri-La: Scared Soundscapes for Mediation. Yoga Journal, (147), 70. Retrieved from EBSCO.
Tuls Halstead, M & Tuls Roscoe, S. (2002). Restoring the spirit at the end of life: Music as an intervention for oncology nurses. Clinical Journal of Oncology Nursing, 6(6), 332-336. doi:10:1188/02.CJON.332-336
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