Even though the singing bowls are used these days to signal beginning and end of the silent meditation in buddhist practices, the origins of singing bowls are most likely to be in the pre-buddhist Bon culture era. Presently the bronze metal bowls are used in the East in variety of ways from food containers to a musical instrument in buddhist monasteries. In the West, as instrument of meditation and relaxation in various sound therapies.
The original function of singing bowls from Tibet to Northern India is not completely known. Were they sound instruments or sacrificial bowls or did they serve as eating utensils? (1)
“The real origins of the bowls and intentions of the makers are unfortunately lost in time. While there is some folklore about the makers of the singing bowls, typically knowledge of a singing bowl’s origin died with its first or second owner.() Some bowls bear inscriptions indicating they were gifts to monasteries.() There were a number of references in literature to brass bowls being a common dowry item or wedding gift which would attest to their practical utility and very few references to bowls in regard to their musical quality.()
Bowl making was literally a cottage industry with crude smelting and careful metalworking taking place in the home of the artisan. Singing bowls were often made to order; for some of the most special bowls a highly skilled artisan might be provided with very unique materials.”(2)
Bowls were typically made of high-quality bronze, with combinations of various other metals, including gold, silver and even highly prized meteoric iron, which the Tibetans call “sky-metal” or thogcha. The popular culture maintains that the ancient singing bowls should contain seven (for each planet) to twelve metals.
The singing bowls of varied shape and size are in fact a type of standing bell. Rather than hanging upside down or attached to a handle, singing bowls sit with the bottom surface resting, and the rim vibrates to produce sound.
The singing bowls come in all shapes, sizes and tonal gradation. Their weights vary according to the metal alloy and size, thickness of the walls and rim.
Sound of the Singing Bowls
One feature common to all good quality singing bowls is their characteristic long-lasting, rich in overtones sound. The sound depends on form, material, and strength of the rim. One plays the bowl by striking it gently with a padded felt mallet or rubbing the rim with a wooden stick. See our Level I for instructions
“Sound healing practitioners find that by applying specific sound frequencies to the effected region, normal function returns in most cases. The cells of the organ or system are effectively re-harmonised and re-energised so that cellular re-programming takes place. Modern audible sound therapy instruments are non-invasive and are essentially like playing music to the body. However, the frequencies they employ are carefully targeted, unlike the broad range of frequencies heard in music and traditional sound healing instruments.”
The idea that the sound could benefit our body and assist in our healing comes from ancient knowledge passed on in Vedas, shamanic traditions as well as scientific research into effects of sound on human body and psyche. According to the research by Peter Hess Institute, the sound waves produced by the good quality singing bowls reach all areas of the body and work on two levels. One is our psyche, where the sounds create meditative state of our mind to allow the rest and relaxation to take place on the physical level. The second, is on the physical level, where gentle oscillations reach every area of our body and gently massage every organ, tissue and cell encouraging flow of the body fluids.
“A great deal of this research has centred on the use of music as a means of reducing feelings of anxiety and stress as well as aiding in the relief of numerous pathologies. The precise mechanism responsible for these mediated effects has never been truly determined.”
However a theory exists by Halina and Marek Portlaski, which explains how the non harmonic multi-tones of the good quality singing bowls create binaural beats effect, thus encouraging alpha or even theta brain waves bringing fast and total relaxation.
To find out more about the sound, overtones and sound quality of the singing bowls, join our Level I course
Peter Hess Therapy singing bowls
With the change of society and the significance of religion, progress of medicine and technology, unfortunately the skill of the bowls production in the Himalaya regions was lost in the last 50 years. This development coincides with the Chinese invasion of Tibet. Since the 1990 Peter Hess has been trying to recover that knowledge. Together with his long-term associate Sunil Sharma, they made a breakthrough in 1997, in finding in their travels a 94-year-old man living in the foothills of Himalayas, who in his youth had been making the traditional singing bowls. That and the support from metallurgist of that region, who analysed the metal alloys used to ancient singing bowls production, allowed Peter Hess to revive this ancient craft.
Based on Peter Hess’ over 20 years of experience in working with singing bowls in sound massage, sound massage therapy and sound pedagogy, he could optimise to a greater extent the form of singing bowls for sound and vibration.
That is, the bowls are manufactured specifically for the sound massage and therapeutic work. The singing bowls are created depending on the body area, allowing to reach a specific part of the body with their sound spectrum.
The jewel among the bowls!
The Peter Hess Therapy singing bowl has been developed with all its vibration and sound characteristics especially for the sound massage. Considerable importance is placed on the need for the correspondence in frequency spectra of various areas of the body and vibrational characteristics of the singing bowl. The singing bowl must sound harmoniously and without any frequency jumps or noise, without inappropriate overtones, such as a high challenging tone. The sound spectrum must be rich in overtones and respond flexibly. These are some of the important features of the Peter Hess® Therapy Singing Bowls.
The ancient knowledge about the production and the material composition of good traditional Singing Bowls appropriate for the sound massage, is the basis for the design and manufacture. During recent years, we have substantially improved the production. The optimal realisation of parameters implemented in the development and production, important for the sound massage and therapy work is the success of intensive work with singing bowls and sound massage.
- Singing bowls for Health and Inner Harmony; Peter Hess
- John Stuart Reid and Annaliese Kohinoor; Rediscovering the art and science of Sound healing
- Sound Therapy Induced Relaxation: Down Regulating Stress Processes and Pathologies; Elliott Salamon, and Minsun Kim, John Beaulieu, and George B. Stefano
- M. Portalski PhD, H Portalski PhD; Poznan University of Technology
©2016Peter Hess Academy Australia