Tibetan Singing Bowls: History & Healing
Origin and History:It’s interesting how ancient people have developed many things that are so important in so many ways that we keep wondering how people found out the important of such things without all the resources that we have today. One of such thing is the Tibetan singing bowl. Important in both spiritual and ritual ways, Tibetan singing bowl is almost a lost form of art these days.
Origin of the Tibetan singing bowls is still a matter of debate, but many historians believe that metal artisans learned and perfected the art of making singing bowls about twenty five hundred years ago. Though not much of any written evidence of Tibetan singing bowls and its origin is found to the date, there are myths and stories about the Tibetan signing bowls about how it was brought to Tibet from India when Buddhism was introduces first to Tibet by the great master,Padmasambhava. This story leads us to believe that the Tibetan singing bowls must have been brought to Tibet sometimes in 8th century AD.
There are some stories about the singing bowl, which tells that the singing bowls might have come to Tibet from India where singing bowls were used as the prayer bowls in ancient times. Though it’s a matter of guessing and anticipation how the singing bowls came to existence since we lack any written evidence, but still we can go through other factors and make some sensible anticipation about the origin and history of the Tibetan singing bowls.
Singing bowls are popularly referred as the Tibetan singing bowls, Tibetan healing bowls or Tibetan meditation bowls and many people assume that the bowl must have been originated from the region of Tibet. But as we look at the fact, it must not be possible for the singing bowls to originate from Tibet. A first thing is that the Tibet and its surrounding regions lack the very materials that a singing requires to be built. Looking at the second factor of the story is the currently place of production. Though it is called the Tibetan singing bowls almost all of the Tibetan signing bowls or Himalayan singing bowls are made in Nepal, even in the modern days. Nepali metal artisans were considered among the best metal artisans back in time and it is still the truth. For proximity of a thousand years almost all these healing bowls are produced by Nepali metal artisans. Yes it is true that, 7 alloy hand hammered singing bowls are used mostly by the Tibetans and hence called Tibetan singing bowls, but it is made by Nepali artisans, both in ancient times and today.
Trying to Track the origin of the Singing bowls:
While it is never a question of debate that the singing bowls are Himalayan, it was never of a Himalayan origin. If we look at the history of the Asian and south Asian metallurgy, we can see that the technology arrived in this region pretty late. Today, no one would debate that this form of art is lost from any other part of the world and exist only in the northern part of Nepal and in Tibet. But we look at the history; it can be found that bowls from Mesopotamia have used the similar kind of technology which dates back to 5000 years; almost similar technology that Tibetan singing bowl uses but slightly different combination of metals for the alloy. If we agree to this, singing bowls might be among the most ancient art craft in human history that still lives to the date.
Still the long history of the Tibetan singing bowl is away from us. One intellectual guess can be that, as bronze got popular as a metal of daily use, it spread across the world, got to the Himalayan regions of Nepal and then Tibet during the vast span of time, where inspired by similar art craft Nepali people must have created the singing bowls and bells along with many other musical instruments and weaponry.
It is most likely that the metal, alloys and metal vessels of many kinds came from the near east to India, then across the India to Nepal and other Himalayan kingdoms of that time. History of Nepali metallurgy dates back to 7 hundred years. If we are to believe what history tells us, Nepali metal artisans became few of the world’s best crafts men in metals and alloys. A simple evidence of a singing bowl found in the Himalayan region which dates back as much as 600 years can prove this point.
Tibetan Prayer flagsThere are many other possible routes that this region got the singing bowls. One is the possibility that bowls came from Iran or Thailand, where tin and copper are found in abundance and where people learned to make bronze out of it. But this possibility is eliminated if see their history which contains no evidence of any singing bowl like instruments. Second probability sound a bit credible. The metals and alloys might have reached the Himalayan region from China, which was very developed in manufacturing technology of metals and metallurgy. Huge bells and singing bowls are found in the record of the Chinese metallurgy history, which points out to the point that the bowls might have migrated to Tibet and to the northern part of Nepal from there. But as we look closer, it is distinct that Chinese, Korean and Japanese singing bowls are made out of completely different technology and thus lead us away from the conclusion that the bowls might have migrated from Chinese side. Coming back to the point, our style of making bowls, materials and technology almost meets the Mesopotamian style of singing bowl making.
Even the shape and ways of decoration are almost same. So it is most likely that out Tibetan bowls might be an inspiration of Mesopotamian invention. But a question arises as we conclude this. How did the Mesopotamian technology arrive to the Himalayan region? Answer to this question can be found if we look at the vast silk route network and its history. Concluding that our singing bowls might be a Mesopotamian inspiration, there one another thing we shouldn’t miss. Mesopotamian only used these bowls for decoration purpose and never for producing sound. The use of bronze bowls to produce sound seems to be completely unique to Himalayas and East Asia. India has a similar tradition where ceramic bowls to make sounds.
In one of above paragraphs we stated a probability of migration of singing bowls from India. If that was the case, there would be many other places like Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan with singing bowl’s history but such is not the case. We had best metal artisans and we were the one who started producing and still produce singing bowls. And looking at the facts, it seems that we Nepali people were the ones who started using the bronze bowls to make sounds. Though it can’t be debated that the origin of singing bowls is the fusion of different cultures over 700-800 years ago, it would also not be too much to take credit of inventing the Tibetan singing bowls.
The Spiritual Properties and healing
Again due to lack of written documents there are only limited discreet things one can say about the healing and methods of healing in the case of the Tibetan singing bowls. As per the history and myths, enlightened Lamas and Monks from Tibet and its surrounding region used the singing bowls as a means of teaching, gaining absolute concentration during the meditation sessions and captivating spiritual energy.
But the Tibetan healing bowl does seem to have some mystery and secrecy. These singing bowls were used in the very secret rituals in the lamaseries, where the advanced students of Buddhism said to be meditating and being able to do extra ordinary stuffs, a normal human can’t do. Mental travel to the core of earth, astral and mental projection of own-self, and travel to a different world are claimed but never proved of course. Whatever claims are not proven to the date might have a different story if its own but it for sure that the Tibetan singing bowls have something special in them. They seem to help gaining great concentration during mediation, they seem to calm our brain and help us escape away from restlessness of our mind.
Spiritually there is one important rule when you use the Tibetan singing bowl. One should never play the bowl in counter clockwise direction. Clockwise direction is considered good in spiritual and meditational ways. It is said that energy in a human body flows in clockwise direction. It is said that when our body is balanced and healthy, all our chakras are open and they all rotate in the clockwise direction.
How do the vibrations from the singing bowls help in the healing process?
It is often said that the outer illness of our body is the outcome of disharmony within our body; a critical imbalance in our cells and organs. In this case the Buddhism and many other experts claim that this illness and imbalance can be restored to a balance with proper soothing vibrations, since everything in the universe is in vibration at their own pace and external vibrations can alter this vibration of matters and elements inside. If we are to believe this theory than healing via the singing bowl is completely possible. The basic theory is that the vibration produced from the singing bowl restores any out of harmony parts of our body and thus restoring our health. According to the doctors and therapist working in the field of sound healing, vibrations from the bowl move in to the deeper parts of our brain called alpha and theta brain waves which supposedly have deep mutational and calm states of mind and intuition. These waves when synchronize with the sound waves from the bowl helps a human recover from any inner disturbances and disharmony.
It is also said that when the sound waves or vibrations are placed directly on our body, it flows through our almost all part of the body including our blood, our tissues, our cellular memory and water of our body. The wave also impacts on our nervous system in a way so that our mind is engaged in relaxation reflex and inhibits any pain or stress. This sound is supposed to reduce our brain activity and thus slowing down our respiration and heart rate which creates creating ’Cardio-Respiratory Synchronicity’- a perfect condition to release the blocked energy from the body and bring our body back to right alignment. One thing we shouldn’t miss when talking about the Tibetan singing bowl and healing is about chakras. Chakras are the energy centers in a human body. Each and every individual possess individual energy field or energy centers in their body and development of chakras is different in different individual. One who has control over all the chakras is considered to have won over one’s body and mind.
The sound vibration that comes out of the singing bowl is supposed to be synchronized with these chakras to get healed from any anomalies. But whether or not an individual is able to make this connection completely depends upon the individual’s spiritual strength, one’s ability to product vibes of good quality and capability of attune with the vibrations.
Above statement of ability and capacity of getting attuned with the vibrations and sound waves might sound a bit controversial compared to the modern method of health treatment. But despite this factor, the Tibetan singing bowls are used increasingly for the healing purpose. People claim to be using this method of healing by placing several singing bowls places strategically placed around a human body to penetrate human’s aura in different ways, heal and restore anomalies and bathe the human aura with purity. An aura is faint etheric, emotional and metal vehicles a human possess. Though debated by some, this method of healing has its results. A person who undergoes Tibetan singing bowl healing process show significant physical change, better changes of course. These people after the therapy are seen with increased level of blood circulation, rejuvenated skin, ability if take pain with ease and significantly calm. This method of healing is also claim that a person who undergoes the therapy will show noteworthy transformation of the blockades and will be able to suppress negative memories and experience from his.