What Are Meditation Singing Bowls and How Do They Work?
Music possesses transformative powers. Certain songs amp you up for a better workout, other tunes help you focus while working, and still other music helps you ease into a peaceful night’s slumber. We all have deeply personal music preferences, but when it comes to stress relief and relaxation. one specific ancient instrument is particularly helpful: the singing bowl.
What Is a Tibetan Singing Bowl?
A singing bowl is actually a bell that’s shaped like a bowl. Instead of a clapper that dangles from the inside, a singing bowl has a mallet you use to create different sound frequencies. While they’re usually metal, some bowls are crystal. Your yoga teacher might have used one to ease you out of savasana at the end of practice.
A singing bowl is also called:
- Himalayan bowl
- Himalayan singing bowl
- crystal singing bowl
- Tibetan singing bowl
Depending on how it’s used and your personal perception, a singing bowl may sound like a gong, bell, or a hum. It may sound like it’s “singing,” too.
If you add water to a singing bowl, the vibrations cause waves and droplets that dance and move, offering a visual meditation.
How Do You Use a Singing Bowl for Stress Relief?
A singing bowl meditation (sound bath) can lead to incredible relaxation. In a study published in 2016 in the Journal of Evidence-Based Integrative Medicine, 62 adults experienced an hour-long singing bowl meditation. Afterward they showed a significant reduction in tension, anxiety, and depression (compared with before the sound bath) as well as an increase in spiritual well-being.
The study authors theorize that Tibetan singing bowls produce binaural beats. This is when your brain experiences two tones at different frequencies, and it triggers theta waves in the brain. Associated with deep relaxation, these waves also increase during meditation and sleep.
In another small study, participants who listened to Himalayan singing bowls for 12 minutes before a 20-minute directed relaxation practice experienced a reduction in blood pressure and heart rate. Both of those vitals tend to increase during times of stress.
Or, like any meditation, a sound bath may help with stress relief because it “allows the practitioner to become more grounded in the present moment, in which they are worrying less about the past or the future,” says meditation teacher Khadaura Celesteal, who uses singing bowls in sessions with his mindfulness clients.
Lastly, singing bowls may help you sleep better. One study found that binaural beats may increase the length of deep sleep. And other research has linked mindfulness meditation with less fatigue and insomnia.
Want to sleep better and reduce stress and anxiety in your everyday life? Openfit’s Sound Meditation series, led by Scarlett de la Torre, creates soothing frequencies using “singing bowls,” a harp, a didgeridoo, gongs, and other harmonic instruments.
Each session lasts 10 to 45 minutes and is designed to shift your brain into a more relaxed, meditative state. Try it before going to bed tonight.
Where to Buy Singing Bowls
Once you’ve felt Scarlett’s melodic, soothing musical meditations, you can experience the benefits of a singing bowl meditation by playing one yourself. You may even feel the vibrations travel from the bowl to your hand and throughout your body.
“It is important to only buy based on hearing the sound and feeling the vibration for yourself,” Celesteal says. “This is important because you will want to adopt a bowl that has a frequency and tone that resonates with your mind, body, soul, and spirit.”
You can find singing bowls in shops, meditation and yoga studios, or online at the sites below. On each site, you can listen to any bowl before you order it so you see if the sound resonates with you.
Made of pure brass, their $35 Original Ohm bowl is made in Kathmandu, Nepal, and comes with a hand-sewn cushion and wooden striker.
Starting at $36, each of these uniquely patterned singing bowls is made by artisans in Kathmandu.
Consider one of their singing bowl gift sets. For $59, you get a handmade box holding a four-inch cast-metal singing bowl, wooden striker, and a small cushion.