Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Tibetan Singing Bowls

Each of the Petitations ends with the sound of the Tibetan Singing Bowl. This is an important part of the Petitation. It is a calming and relaxing way to bring you back to material reality after the Petitation is over (not to say you can’t continue to stroke your pet, think of things you are grateful for etc. after the ringing of the bell). Here are some basic theories and facts about the singing bowls. Please note: since much of the information is from oral tradition historians are not in complete agreement.

When and where did singing bowls come from?
They came from the time of the Buddha Shakyamuni (560-480 B.C). The tradition of the singing bowls were brought from India to Tibet, along with the teachings of the Buddha in the 8th century A.D.

What is their purpose?
They produce sounds invoking relaxation leading into meditation. They can also be used as musical instruments for a complete meditation. In addition, they can be used medicinally and spiritually for stress reduction, holistic healing, Reiki, chakra balancing, and as part of a religious service. They have also been used for food and water. They have been used in schools to help children stay present during mindfulness trainings.  In my home we even use them to begin and end meals.

How are they played? 
They can be played by either striking the top or side of the bell with a felt-tipped beater when it is in the palm of your hand or on a special pillow. Or, you can rub the wooden, leather or rubber side of the beater around the rim of the bowl for continuous sound. For the purposes of the Petitations, I have struck the bowl with a felt covered beater.

What were (are) they made out of?
According to tradition, they have been made out 7 metals for the 7 planets→ gold (the Sun), silver (the Moon), mercury (Mercury), copper (Venus), iron (Mars), tin (Jupiter), and lead (Saturn). Each metal has a different sound so depending on the metal in the bowl and the composition of each metal, and where the bowl is struck, the sound changes. Modern ones are typically made of copper and tin with traces of lead, zinc, gold, silver, and mercury.

Where can they be found? 
They can be found in temples, monasteries, private Buddhist alters, meditation halls, schools and in private homes for personal use.


Jansen, Eva Rudy (2004). Singing Bowls: A Practical Handbook of Instruction and Use. New Age Books.

1 comment:

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