The healing power of Himalayan singing bowls and sound therapy.
Spas across the globe are taking an increased interest in sound therapy—and we’re not talking about the Enya tunes wafting from the speakers.
“Dating back thousands of years, sound therapy is the use of both sound and vibrations at varying frequencies to achieve a soothing effect on the mind, body and spirit,” explains Christine Hays, CEO (that’s Chief Energy Officer) of Eastern Vibration, a U.S.- and Nepal-based organization dedicated to the research, education and promotion of healing through sound and vibration (easternvibration.com).
Hays also notes that sound healing “is one of the most easily accessible and inexpensive forms of therapy and healing,” and that its benefits can include “improved sleep, elimination of toxins, stimulated circulation, lower blood pressure and heart rate, and improved recovery from trauma or illness.”
While everything from recorded music and traditional instruments to gongs and tuning forks are used in these types of treatments, Tibetan Singing Bowls (also called Himalayan Singing Bowls) have become among the most popular spa choices. We asked Hays to break down what they are, what they do and how they make a difference.
The history Related to the bell, singing bowls originated thousands of years ago in the Himalayas and were mostly used in monasteries and temples for spiritual ceremonies, meditation and sound healing therapy. Today, they are still primarily made in India and Nepal, and are available as both pure singing bowls or hand-hammered versions made from an alloy of seven metals, symbolizing the seven planets, days of the week, primary colors and musical notes.
THE HISTORY Related to the bell, singing bowls originated thousands of years ago in the Himalayas and were mostly used in monasteries and temples for spiritual ceremonies, meditation and sound healing therapy. Today, they are still primarily made in India and Nepal, and are available as both pure singing bowls or hand-hammered versions made from an alloy of seven metals, symbolizing the seven planets, days of the week, primary colors and musical notes.
HOW THEY WORK Singing bowls resonate with a pure, healing sound, while hammered bowls create a special vibration when struck or strummed. The vibrations are similar to those of the brain’s alpha waves, and they oscillate with an energetically high frequency, like that of the “Om” mantra.
The sound of the singing and hammered bowls has an effect on brain-wave frequencies and can help bring the brain into a Theta state within minutes. (Theta waves occur during REM sleep, hypnosis and deep meditation.) At the same time, the vibrations that emit from the bowls provide a cellular massage.
HOW TO USE THEM Simply strike or strum the bowl clockwise, using a mallet; in order to get the full benefit, aim to be totally present and have positive intention. The sound itself helps to center the mind, as all attention becomes focused on the bowl. In spa treatments, bowls are placed on and around the body (typically on the main chakras) and gently struck to bring on the sound and vibrations.
CAN YOU USE THEM AT HOME? Definitely. Try it for at least an hour before going to bed: Practice chanting, singing and vocal toning while being aware of the vibrations in the body, which can have a healing effect. For a deep sleep, place a bowl on your solar plexus or heart chakra and strike for about 10 minutes.
WHAT KIND OF BOWL TO BUY? It depends on what the bowls will be used for. There are concert-grade bowls for group sound sessions (these are usually heavy and have a thick rim), while spas tend to use therapeutic grade bowls, which are slightly thinner and more refined, and emit a longer vibration than the concert grade.
We recommend bowls made of seven metals (instead of three) and hand-hammered ones over those made from a mold or cast, as the hand-hammered ones emit stronger therapeutic vibrations.
Savor the Sound
Experience sound healing at these domestic spas:
Guests of this California wine country resort enjoy complimentary Mindful Awareness meditation classes that incorporate singing bowls (private classes are also available). As Spa Director Helen Brown explains, “focusing on the nature, quality and duration of the sound provides a form of listening practice for participants, helping them work on increased mindfulness, while the vibrations have been found by guests to be deeply therapeutic and relaxing.” The spa is currently working on a new singing bowl experience for its mineral springs bathhouse, too. solage.aubergeresorts.com
THE MAYFLOWER GRACE
Head to this boutique hotel and spa in rural Connecticut for peace, quiet and therapeutic services like the one-hour Sound Healing, which includes breathwork, meditation, guided intention-setting and the use of Tibetan bowls to helpmove you to a deep state of well-being.gracehotels.com/mayflower
Among the menu highlights at this South Florida resort’s three-story spa are two sound therapy treatments: Tibetan Singing Bowls (50 or 100 minutes), in which the bowls are placed and played on and around your body to help balance energy fields and encourage total relaxation; and Spa Wave (25 or 50 minutes), which is performed on a special acoustic simulation massage table and uses rolling audio frequencies matched to the body’s organs and chakras to help reduce stress, balance moods and improve sleep. turnberryislemiami.com