A singing bowl was a spiritual tool used in ancient Chinese medicine to assist with meditation and spiritual awakening prior to the birth of Buddhism and modern religion. The singing bowl is thought to have originated in during the Shang Dynasty in the 13th century BCE. The way the Chinese used the bowl was by striking it like a bell rather than using it to emit rhythmic vibrations by stroking the bowl with the striker.
The use of the singing bowl spread throughout North Asia and was adopted by the Himalayan people of Tibet in the 4th century BCE. It is the Tibetan people who truly adapted the singing bowl into what we use today, though they keep the instrument’s history and uses closely guarded.
What we do know is that the singing bowl is used with a striker, usually made of wood, to emit a type of singing or bell noise which facilitates meditation, aligns the chakras, and brings one closer to nirvana, a final mental state that Buddhists try to reach to release themselves from the cycle of rebirth.
Many generations of people throughout Nepal, Tibet, and India now hold the singing bowl as part of their religious traditions. There are still traditional societies that create singing bowls using traditional methods. They are made of many metals, ranging from copper to gold, depending on what they are being used for, and it takes three people to create one. There is ceremony associated with creating a singing bowl as well. The creation of one bowl is accompanied by chanting to give the bowl spiritual legitimacy.
Singing bowls were not only used for meditation, but also for healing. Each bowl is a different size and meant to be associated with a different chakra. Each chakra is attuned to a different area of the body and responsible for a different conditions or problem if they are not being taken care of. The singing bowl uses sound therapy to bring these chakras back into alignment. The vibrations harmonize cells and help with deep breathing and mindfulness for those who are struggling to achieve mental presence.
There are many different types of singing bowls that can be used for many different problems and ailments, so it is important to do research and ask the experts who know the science before deciding which singing bowl is right for you.
Navadurga Handicrafts & Singing Bowl House, Inc. is located in Alameda, CA.