It is believed that these singing bowls date back over 2,500 years and are deeply rooted in the animistic/Shamanic religions of the Tibetan/Nepalese border region of the high Himalayas. It is in this area that the metal working artisans perfected the technique for making these singing bowls using a 12 metal alloy (iron, nickel, cobolt, lead, bismuth, arsenic, cadmium, copper, zinc, silver, antimony and tin). In some cases it is believed they were also mixed with metals extracted from meteorites and It is this mix that gave the ancient bowls a unique quality of sound. There is very little written history of Himalayan singing bowls but the oral history is rich with stories that the singing bowls were brought to Tibet from India in the 8th century BCE at the same time as Buddha was introduced to Tibet by the great Buddhist master Padmasambhava. Why are Tibetan singing bowls important in spiritual practice? Tibetan singing bowls are used in both Buddhism, Hinduism and Yoga (Nada yoga) because sound is such an important part of spiritual practice. It is believed that sound and vibration affect the consciousness by cleansing the subtle energy channels (nadis) enabling the energy to rise through the chakras to Sahasrara the crown chakra for spiritual enlightenment. The singing bowls are also believed to aid concentration (dharana) and meditation (dhyana) to bring about balance and well-being. During meditation the practitioner moves the puja stick around the outside edge of the bowl in a an almost trance-like way creating a moving meditation which encourages a ‘mindfulness’ of staying in the present moment, a concept of great importance in Buddhism. How to play the Tibetan singing bowls The bowl can be held in one of two ways:- a) Holding your bowl either between your fingers in the palm of your hand but without the base touching your palm. b) Placing the base of the bowl in the flat palm of your hand. Now take the puja (a wooden stick or a suede bound wood stick) and begin to circle smoothly and firmly the outside rim of the bowl, maintaining an even pressure. As the bowl begins to vibrate increase the speed and begin to experience the sound as it begins to grow. If you are having difficulty getting the sound and vibration to start then you simply tap the bowl gently first with the puja before commencing rotation. Depending on the size, thickness and weight of your bowl you will be able to produce at least 3 and in some case even 5 or 6 tones. The larger and heavier the bowl the more the vibration will resonate with the base chakras and over time you will be able to collect bowls to work with all 7 chakras. You can also experiment and play with your bowl by adding a small amount of water to the bowl to create different sounds and to watch how the water jumps and dances with the increasing vibrations. At ‘Door to the Himalayas’ we hand select every Tibetan singing bowl, ensuring that all are hand beaten. The design is less important than sound and vibration in our selection and we always encourage you to find the singing bowl that sings for you.
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