What Is A Singing Bowl? - The Original Being Zen Singing Bowl
The Being Zen Singing Bowl

The Being Zen Singing Bowl

Introducing The Being Zen Singing Bowl

 

Feeling stressed, anxious, or overwhelmed?

Looking to lead a more mindful existence?

From stress-reduction to increased focus and concentration, the benefits of mindful meditation are many, and a classic Tibetan singing bowl can add a whole new layer of richness to your practice.

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Perfect For Any Type Of Practice

Whether you’re embracing Vipassana Meditation, Transcendental Meditation, traditional Zen-Buddhist meditation, or simply a beginner that’s looking to find a bit of peace in a chaotic world, a singing bowl can help.

The Being Zen singing bowl is inspired by ancient Buddhist traditions and imported directly from Nepal, with the mission of helping people to live a more purposeful, thoughtful life.

If you’ve ever been to a yoga or meditation class, you’ve likely experienced the calming harmony of a singing bowl, traditionally used to signal the beginning or end of a silent meditation.

Gently strike the inside of the meditation bowl with the provided mallet, or rub the outside of the bowl, to hear the pleasing fundamental harmonic frequency that has been used as a focus device for centuries.

Each brass singing bowl is engraved with the traditional Tibetan Buddhist mantra “om mani padme hum”

  • Om is a sacred syllable found in Indian religions
  • The word Mani means “jewel” or “bead”
  • Padme is the “lotus flower” (the Buddhist sacred flower)
  • Hum represents the spirit of enlightenment

 

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Tibetan Buddhists believe that reciting the Om Mani Padme Hum mantra out loud or silently invokes the blessings of Chenrezig, the embodiment of compassion. Viewing the written form of the mantra is said to have the same effect, and it is believed that all of the teachings of the Buddha are contained in this phrase.

Quantities are extremely limited, so try out a singing bowl today and take your practice to the next level!

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What Is A Singing Bowl?

A singing bowl is a type of standing bell that produces a sustained musical note. Generally, a tone is produced by either striking the outside of the bowl or rubbing the outer rim in a circular fashion. Singing bowls can be hand-hammered or machine produced and they are made from many different materials. Also commonly referred to as meditation bowls, prayer bowls, chakra bowls, or crystal bowls, Tibetan singing bowls commonly have religious or spiritual writings etched on the outside of the bowl, and they come in many different sizes, shapes, and designs.

tibetan singing bowl

What Is Written On A Singing Bowl?

There are many different writings often featured on singing bowls, but one of the most common (including the Being Zen Singing Bowl), is Om mani padme hum, a traditional Tibetan mantra. Om mani padme hum has many different translations and interpretations, but the 14th Dalai Lama described it as follows:

“….The six syllables, om mani padme hum, mean that in dependence on the practice of a path which is an indivisible union of method and wisdom, you can transform your impure body, speech, and mind into the pure exalted body, speech, and mind of a Buddha…”

It is said that the translation of a mantra is less important than the mantra itself, so apply Om mani padme hum (or whatever the mantra may be) to your own practice!

What Are Singing Bowls Made Of?

Singing bowls are most commonly made out of brass alloy. Older antique bowls are sometimes made out of an alloy of copper and tin, known as “bell metal”. It is sometimes said that traditional singing bowls are made out of an alloy of seven metals, each representing a heavenly body. Gold, silver, mercury, copper, iron, tin, and lead are the most common metals mentioned. Crystal singing bowls are sometimes made of synthetic crystal. It can be difficult to tell the difference between an antique bowl and a modern singing bowl, and the sounds produced by both are often indistinguishable.

meditation bowl

The History Of Singing Bowls

There is a lot that we don’t know about the history and origin of singing bowls. It is often said that they originated during the pre-Buddhist Tibetan religious tradition known as “Bon”, but there is actually little evidence linking singing bowls to early Tibetan texts. Some scholars say that they originated as food bowls in ancient Buddhist communities, but again, there is much disagreement as to the validity of such claims. It is more likely that traditional standing bells were an active part of early Tibetan Buddhist rituals, though there was little emphasis placed on the “singing” aspect of such instruments.

Others say that singing bowls date as far back as 560-480 BC and were brought from India to Tibet along with Buddhism in the 8th century AD. Again, evidence for such speculation is sparse, but oral traditions suggest that singing bowls made an appearance in Eastern culture far earlier than historical texts indicate.

Regardless of the true origin of singing bowls, their modern-day uses are plentiful.

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How Are Singing Bowls Used?

  • Some people use the relaxing tone of a singing bowl to signal the start or end of a meditation session.
  • Singing bowls are commonly used in Western yoga classes to transition between the different elements of a program.
  • In energy healing, the vibrations of a singing bowl are thought to carry restorative powers and are used to aide the Chakra alignment.
  • Sometimes, a bowl is even placed directly on a person’s body, allowing the vibration to act as a massage, helping to relax strained or tense muscles.
  • The sustained tone of a singing bowl can be used as a guided meditation device, alongside traditional chanting or prayer rituals. Focusing deeply on the sustained tone is thought to be another form of meditation, similar to a mantra in transcendental meditation, or the effect of traditional Buddhist chanting.

Of course, this list barely scratches the surface of the many different ways in which people use singing bowls today.  

prayer bowl

How Do You Play A Singing Bowl?

There are many different methods for producing sound from a singing bowl.

However, to truly practice with a singing bowl, it’s important to realize that playing the bowl is only half of the practice! Listening is the other half, and it’s equally important.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to playing a singing bowl, recommended for beginners without much experience:

  1. Sit in a comfortable spot. Some people might prefer a meditation cushion on the floor, but a chair will work just as well. Sit wherever you are comfortable!  
  2. Before playing your singing bowl, start by focusing on your breath for a few moments. Similar to a vipassana meditation practice, focusing on the breath helps to calm the everyday noise of the mind. When playing a singing bowl, just play the singing bowl.
  3. Gently strike the outside of the bowl with the soft end of the wooden mallet.
  4. Listen. Truly listen to the tone produced by striking the outside of the meditation bowl. Try to focus on each overtone, and listen through the entire sustain until the tone completely dies down. This might take 30 seconds. Patience is key!
  5. Now, strike the bowl gently again with the soft end of the mallet. This time, after 2 or 3 seconds, turn the mallet over and bring the wooden end to outside of the rim. Gently rub the outside of the bowl with the wooden end of the mallet in a slow, circular fashion. It will probably take some practice to get used to the amount of pressure required, but as you rub the outside rim, you should hear the bowl slowly start to “sing”. The bowl will produce a slow, sustaining tone that will gradually increase in volume as you continue to move the striker.
  6. Listen! Focus on the sound that is produced by rubbing the outside of the bowl. Listen to how the overtones change while rubbing the bowl versus striking the bowl. Try to notice the subtleties in the sound produced by each end of the striker. If you feel your mind start to wander, calmly come back to the sound of the singing bowl. That is the practice!
  7. You might ask yourself: where does the striker end? Where does the bowl begin? Who is hearing the sound of the singing bowl?
  8. Try playing the meditation bowl again, but this time, instead of striking the bowl with the mallet first, simply start by rubbing the outside of the top edge of the bowl. Try using both the wooden end of the striker and the soft end. It’s possible to make it sing with either, and each material produces a distinctive sound! You might have to experiment with different levels of pressure depending on which end you use. Sometimes, as the bowl starts to vibrate and “sing”, it’s easy to lose contact with the rim, interrupting the sound. It simply takes practice to get the feel just right and sustain the singing overtone.
  9. Most importantly: listen! Each time you play the bowl, remember to listen. It’s not about achieving the perfect sound. It’s about hearing each note. It’s about being present and focusing just on the sound as it is being played. It’s neither good nor bad. It just is. Playing a singing bowl is really no different than sitting on the cushion to meditate, or chanting with a group at a temple. The point is to listen. Your mind will wander, and that’s okay. When you notice, come back and listen once more. Whatever path you happen to be on, focusing on the sound of the singing bowl is just another way to practice.

 

 

All of this is to say, there’s no one right way to play a singing bowl. Experiment, and find the way that is most pleasing to you!

Whatever it happens to be, we hope that discovering the tradition of Tibetan singing bowls will be a meaningful addition to your practice.

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