You’ve likely heard them at yoga–you know that crisp gong sound that a teacher will start or end the class with? That’s made by a singing bowl, and it’s a small but mighty healing tool that’s been used in alternative healing practices for thousands of years. These instruments look like normal metal bowls, but when struck or made to ‘sing’ with a mallet, they’ll give off a sound and frequency that can invoke a deep meditative and peaceful state, and balance out the chakras.
Hence, why sound baths – or, gatherings where people bask in the sound and vibration of singing bowls being played, are majorly trending in wellness right now. You can take the power into your own hands, of course, and if you’re looking for a supplement to ground you into your meditation practice or post-work or morning ritual, get you a singing bowl! We talked to Shanti Bowl Founder / Owner Jessica for the inside scoop on what to look for when you shop for a singing bowl.
Edit Seven: How did you discover / fall in love with singing bowls?
Shanti Bowl: My mother in law had one at her place, my boyfriend and I were visiting and we were just sort of playing it, and as you know, if you’re into singing bowls, it can take a few tries to be able to play the bowl and we just had fun playing with it all weekend and trying to get it to play and the satisfaction of getting it to sing when you’ve never done it before is fun, and we just fell in love with it.
Then Ben wanted to get one, which led us to this business. We were looking online and we couldn’t find anything where we live in Vancouver, so we had trouble finding something that was high-quality, an affordable price, wasn’t shipping from somewhere that was going to make for a lot of shipping fees. So, because we couldn’t find that online existing already, we just decided to create it ourselves.
E7: What do the different sizes / materials of singing bowls have to do with their effect? And what should one look for when shopping for a singing bowl?
SB: It depends on the person and what they’re looking for in a singing bowl, but if they’re a beginner, there are a couple things to consider; the first being size. We recommend getting a medium size singing bowl, one you can hold in your hand, or take with you somewhere if you want, or display around you house, and a medium size bowl also produces a nice note. Ones that are larger or smaller would produce notes that are different.
If it’s larger, it won’t be very portable. That’s something to consider if you’re adding to your collection. But the bowls on our site are medium size, 5.5 inches in diameter, and that’s just a nice neutral size to start with.
For the material, we’re big proponents of the bowls being handmade. There certainly are machine-made bowls out on the market, not to say that that’s bad, but I think the handmade quality of a bowl is nice and you sort of see that in the craftsmanship and it produces a different note and vibration, especially when you’re using it in your hand. The ones that are made by machines, those can sound a little more pitchy, they’re not as warm of a note as handmade. That’s my preference. I think handmade bowls are a nicer sound and aesthetic, and its nice to know you have something in your home that’s handmade, traditionally.
Traditionally, the bowls are made out of a combination of metals, a 5-metal alloy – copper, zinc, iron, and traces of gold and silver. That’s the traditional material that was used for making singing bowls and they’re still doing that today which is considered the best material for it – this is how singing bowls have been used for hundreds of thousands of years. It’s kind of cool to know you’re using the same materials that were used traditionally.
E7: How do you suggest people use a singing bowl on their own?
SB: How I use the bowl and how I recommend using the bowl is, I often just sit on a yoga mat or a carpet or even my couch, and put the bowl in my hand and you can strike the side of the bowl and that produces a nice sound which you’ll feel it in your hand I find that really soothing and it helps me to relax. The sound and the vibration of the bowl and the combination of that definitely does have an effect on your mental state and it does help to calm and relax you.
So striking the side of the bowl is one way to do it, if you’ve never played before that’s how you can start. But you can also circle the bowl with a mallet, which produces what we call singing, which – as long as you keep circling it with a mallet, it produces a sing song effect. And again that produces vibrations that when you’re using it in your hand, you can feel going up your arm.
I mean, I do that sometimes just if I’m sitting with my boyfriend and we’re talking we just do that and it’s fun, or, you could say, OK this is going to be my meditation practice for the next 5, 10, 15 minutes where I’m just playing the bowl. Just hearing that sound and being in a quiet, mindful state could be a meditation practice in and of itself.
E7: Do you have a daily ritual you like to do with the bowls?
SB: For me, it depends on the day, but I try to use the singing bowl for 5 minutes before I go to bed. I do use it throughout the day if I’m feeling anxious or a little stressed out about something. I find that the sound and the vibration do really speak to me, so if I’ve had a stressful day I might use it to take a 5 minute break and play the bowl, it’s also a fun thing to do as well, just in-between emails for example.
And if I do yoga, I mostly go to yoga classes and my teachers will use singing bowls as a prompt to start and finish the meditation and I really like that. I don’t practice on my own, but that’s a nice idea as well – start your yoga practice by striking the owl and end it or your meditation sequence use the bowl as a cue for that as well. That’s a soothing way to start and end a class.
For more information on Shanti Bowl singing bowls click HERE!
(Story by Contributing Editor, Kait Fowlie)