We may not acknowledge it often, but sound plays an important role in how we feel. Music has the ability to up lift us, motive us and even move us to tears. But it also has the ability to relax and heal us, especially when it comes in the form of the soothing vibrations produced by singing bowls.
Singing bowls have been used for centuries for meditation, music and relaxation purposes and are thought to date between 560 – 450BC. In many Buddhist practises singing bowls are used to signal the beginning and end of mediation or indicate when a change in activity should occur. Produced across Western Asia, countries such as Nepal, China and India still make singing bowls today.
Singing bowls are so called due to the harmonic tones they make when struck with a mallet (a specially designed wooden tool often coated with felt or leather). The bowls can come in various sizes ranging from small to large with the size of the bowl affecting the pitch of the vibration; the larger the bowl the deeper the vibration. It is these vibrations which can influence our own and therefore aid healing and relaxation. The frequencies produced by a medium sized singing bowl, for example, are thought to align with and centre the root chakra.
The bowls themselves are made of a combination of metals including copper, iron and lead. The thickness of the metal can play an important part in the frequency that each one produces with a thicker bowl eliciting a lower vibration.
An experiment which highlights the impact of the vibrations given off by a signing bowl was conducted in 2009 by John Bush, a Professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The experiment involved filling a singing bowl with water and recording the movement of the liquid in slow motion after the bowl was tapped with a mallet. The water is affected by the vibrations of the bowl so much so that droplets can be seen jumping up and down. In addition, the more actively the mallet is used to circle the edge of the bowl, and therefore increase the frequency of the vibration, the livelier the water becomes.
Whilst this experiment explores the movement of fluids, it also highlights how the vibrations emitted from the singing bowl can affect the immediate environment. In humans, it is thought that these vibrations can have a positive effect on our brains by interacting with our brainwave activity to induce rest. The frequencies can also benefit the rest of the body by improving the immune system and lowering blood pressure.
Medical fields in the West are now beginning to acknowledge the impact sound healing can have as a therapeutic practice. By tuning into the vibrations of sound, such as singing bowls or even chanting, we can encourage our body into a state of relaxation.
The beauty of singing bowls is that we can still reap the benefits of them even without coming into direct contact with the instrument itself. Listening to a recording, over the internet or on a CD for example, can still have a relaxing effect on the listener. So the next time you experience an unpleasant, unwanted or anxious feeling, trying putting your mind and body at ease with sound healing. The relaxing state induced by the harmonic vibrations could be just what you need to provide the relief you’ve been looking for.
photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/10282509@N00/5318950659″>Singing Bowl</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/”>(license)</a>
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