Sound therapy refers to the use of sound to promote physical and emotional wellbeing. Also known as music therapy, there’s actually some science behind this ancient practice. Studies into neurophysiology show that certain types of sound can relax the body and activate the brain’s pleasure centers, helping to reduce stress and even treat depression. Neuroimaging studies have also demonstrated that sound therapy can be used to enhance the brain’s ability to process emotions and regulate behavior (4). Sound therapy tools such as Tibetan singing bowls and meditation bells have been used for centuries in the East, and today they are gaining in popularity worldwide. If you’re interested in trying this type of sound therapy, we have a detailed guide explaining what each of these tools are and how to use them.
What Are Tibetan Singing Bowls?
Modern-day wellness practitioners swear by the healing power of Tibetan singing bowls, and many have come to see it as an important part of their overall wellness plan (2). By the way, there is some evidence that music and sound healing have been used since ancient times.
For example, around 500 BC, Pythagoras and his followers used music to heal people and animals alike.The ancient Tibetan singing bowls have a much more complex history than just being musical instruments – they were also believed to possess powerful healing properties.
Ancient Tibetan monks would use the singing bowls as part of their meditative practices and to bring healing energy into their lives. The sound produced by the bowls is said to have a calming effect and help promote relaxation, stress relief, improved focus and clarity.
A singing bowl is made up of two parts – the outer shell which contains seven chakras that correspond with various physical organs in the body and the inner bowl which contains sacred mantras and symbols. When the singing bowl is struck, these symbols vibrate at specific frequencies which can be used to target various ailments in the body.
So, what can Tibetan singing bowls do for you? Few scientific studies have been conducted to prove the healing power of Tibetan singing bowls, but many practitioners and those who’ve experienced their healing effects can attest that these tools can:
- Offer stress relief – reduce anxiety, tension and stress. This is supported by evidence that suggests that music can alter the brain’s neurochemistry (3).
- Reduce pain – vibrational sound waves can have a significant impact on reducing pain levels in those suffering from chronic pain (7). This may be a placebo effect, but many people report feeling an improvement in their pain levels after using a Tibetan singing bowl.
- Offer relief from depressions and mood swings – the relaxing tones of the singing bowl can help to clear your mind and bring peace (2).
- Help improve sleep quality – sound waves can help induce a relaxed state, allowing your mind and body to rest more deeply (6).
- Help with meditation – the sound of the bowl may bring a deeper level of meditation, allowing you to be more mindful and present in the moment (1).
- Enhance spiritual awareness – said to have the power to bring a person closer to their spiritual source and help open up their inner awareness.
These are just some of the potential benefits that Tibetan singing bowl healing has to offer. To reap the full rewards of this ancient practice, it’s important to follow these tips:
Buying The Right Singing Bowl
There are a number of places where you can buy a Tibetan singing bowl, but it’s important to make sure you are buying from a reputable source. Some places may be selling knock-offs, so be sure to do your research before making a purchase.
An authentic Tibetan singing bowl will have a distinct resonance and sound when struck. It should be made of pure quartz or with a combination of seven different metals (copper, tin, iron, lead, zinc, mercury and silver).
Buying from a reputable source will ensure you get a high-quality bowl.Many sellers will post sound-clips of the bowl being struck so you can experience it for yourself.
As for size, it all depends on personal preference. Some people prefer larger bowls for their deeper, lower tones, while others may like a smaller bowl for the higher pitch that it produces. A beginner’s bowl will usually be between 5 and 10 inches in diameter.
Connect With An Experienced Practitioner
If you want to make the most out of your healing experience with a Tibetan singing bowl, it’s best to find an experienced practitioner who can guide you through the process.
A good practitioner will be able to tailor the experience to your needs and offer guidance on how to use the bowl for maximum benefit. They will also be able to answer any questions you may have and help you understand how the bowl works and what to expect from the experience.
Make It A Part Of Your Routine
Tibetan singing bowl healing can be very beneficial but it’s important to make it part of your regular routine. That’s because consistently using the bowl is what will help you to reap its full benefits.
Ideally, you should use it a few times a week for 10-15 minutes per session. As you become more familiar with the bowl, you can begin to experiment with different frequencies and find out what works best for you.
Finally, it’s important to remember that Tibetan singing bowl healing is a process and you may not always get the results you are looking for immediately. It can take time and patience to really experience its full benefits, so it’s important to be patient and trust the process.
Are Singing Bowls Dangerous?
Although singing bowls are more beneficial than dangerous, they are not entirely risk-free. The most common risks associated with singing bowls involve people with certain conditions, such as epilepsy or heart conditions, who may be more sensitive to the sound vibrations produced by singing bowls.
Pregnant women, people with metal implants, and those undergoing chemotherapy should also be cautious when using singing bowls. If you have any health concerns, it’s best to consult with your doctor before using a singing bowl.
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What Are Meditation Bells?
Meditation Bells aka Tibetan prayer bells or Tingsha are a type of bell used in religious rituals, ceremonies and services (5). Historically, these bells were made of bronze or copper, cast in a mold and then hand-polished. The bells were rung to call worshippers to prayer, and sometimes also used as part of a ritual to ward off evil spirits.
Today meditation bells come in a variety of shapes, sizes and materials, ranging from traditional designs made of metals such as bronze, copper, brass and iron, to contemporary designs made using materials such as glass, wood and crystal.
Different kinds of meditation bells may be used for specific purposes, such as to mark the beginning and end of prayer or meditation sessions, or to announce special occasions.
They are also sometimes used in yoga and mindfulness practices to create a calming atmosphere or invoke a feeling of reverence. Whatever their purpose, meditation bells bring an air of tranquility with them and can be used to enhance any spiritual practice.
There is limited scientific evidence to support the notion that ringing a meditation bell has actual physical or psychological benefits. However, music and sound therapy have long been proven to have positive effects on mental and emotional wellbeing. By extension, it could be argued that the use of meditation bells can provide relaxation and help to induce a meditative state.
Ultimately, the decision to use meditation bells lies with the individual. The following anecdotal (but common) experiences may help someone decide if these bells are right for them:
- People often report feeling more relaxed or focused after hearing the sound of a meditation bell.
- The sounds of the bells may help to induce a feeling of calmness or stillness in the mind.
- The ringing of the bells may be used as a reminder to stay in the present moment and focus on one’s breath.
- Meditation bells may also be used to create a sacred space or atmosphere for prayer or meditation.
Whether used for religious purposes or for personal growth, the ringing of these bells can be a powerful and meaningful experience.
Which Meditation Bells Are Best?
When it comes to meditation bells, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Below are the different kinds of meditation bells and what they are best for:
- Tingsha (Tibetan prayer bells) – These come in a variety of sizes, shapes and materials but they all have two discs attached by a leather cord. Because they are slightly flattened, they make a clear and resonant sound when struck.
They are often used in yoga, meditation and spiritual practices to announce the start or end of a session, to help focus the mind or to set a calming atmosphere.
- Dorje (Buddhist bell) – This bell is typically made of brass and consists of a cylindrical handle with a large flattened head. When struck, the tonal quality produces a low and reverberating sound that is said to represent the union of wisdom and compassion. This bell is commonly used in Buddhist ceremonies, rituals and spiritual practices.
- Ancient bells – These bells are typically made of bronze, copper or brass and come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Some are heavily ornamented with designs that may represent gods, goddesses or religious symbols. These bells can be used for ritualistic purposes or simply to create a calming atmosphere.
- Modern bells – These bells produce a clean sound simply because they are made of modern materials and technology. They come in a variety of shapes, sizes and designs and are often used for contemporary yoga and mindfulness practices.
Aside from the type of bell and purpose, consider the following when purchasing meditation bells:
- Reviews or recommendations of the bell – Reviews or recommendations from people who have used the product can be helpful in making a decision.
- Care and maintenance – Make sure to read the instructions on how to care for and maintain the bell.
- Price – Meditation bells can range in price depending on the quality, size, material and design. Finding a good balance between cost and quality is important.
No matter which type of bell you choose, taking the time to find one that resonates with you and suits your needs is key to enjoying the experience of using a meditation bell.
How To Use A Meditation Bell
The beauty of using a meditation bell is that it can be used in any way you choose. Below are some tips to help you get started:
- Start with a few deep breaths and focus on being in the present moment.
- Hold the bell in your hand and firmly strike the head of the bell with a mallet.
- As the sound reverberates, be mindful of its frequency, resonance and tonal quality.
- Use the bell at specific times as a reminder to stay in the present moment or to focus on your breath.
- Create a sacred space or atmosphere with the ringing of the bell before prayer or meditation.
- Allow yourself to be open and accepting of the experience.
- When you are ready, gently strike the bell one more time to end the session.
The Bottom Line
Sound therapy or sound healing has been practiced for centuries, and both singing bowls and meditation bells are tools that can help you to access its power. Whether or not you want to use it to bring peace and relaxation, spiritual connection or personal growth, the ringing of these bells can be a powerful and meaningful experience.
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- Effects of Singing Bowl Sound Meditation on Mood, Tension, and Well-being: An Observational Study (2017, nih.gov)
- Neurophysiological Effects of a Singing Bowl Massage (2022, nih.gov)
- The Effect of Music on the Human Stress Response (2013, nih.gov)
- The Impact of Different Sounds on Stress Level in the Context of EEG, Cardiac Measures and Subjective Stress Level: A Pilot Study (2020, nih.gov)
- The Meaning and Function of the Meditation Bell (n.d., mindworks.org)
- The music that helps people sleep and the reasons they believe it works: A mixed methods analysis of online survey reports (2018, nih.gov)
- Understanding how sound suppresses pain (2022, nih.gov)