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The Healing Benefits of Singing Bowls

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In this article I’ll cover the healing benefits of singing bowls, how they work, current scientific studies and the history of sound healing. If you’re looking to buy a singing bowl in South Africa, we can help!

Estimated reading time: 11 minutes

Introduction

This is a big, juicy article to dig into the amazing and vast healing benefits of singing bowls. If you’re just here to find out where to buy Tibetan singing bowls in South Africa, don’t fret – just pop on over to our online shop HERE.

Throughout human history, sound has been recognized and revered as a way to worship the Divine, deepen spirituality, heal the energetic and physical bodies, and move through emotions and states. 

Some cultures and religions even believe that it was sound that called the Universe into being. For example, the Hindus believe that the first movement in the Universe created the sound ‘Aum’.

The singing bowl is a sacred tool that is used for sound healing, prayer and meditation around the world.

Why not listen to musician Jon Hopkins play a 100-year-old singing bowl in a composition he called ‘Ascension’ while you read this article:

The Healing Benefits of Singing Bowls

At a very basic level, singing bowls help us relax. And relaxation is actually key to healing.

We all know that stress is bad for us, and that ongoing stress can eventually make us ill. In fact, heart disease, diabetes, addiction and mental health issues have all been linked to stress and tension. To counter the effects of stress and the maladies it can cause, the body needs to trigger the ‘relaxation response’. 

The ‘relaxation response’ is the body’s physiological response when entering a state of relaxation. It includes a:

  • Lowering of blood pressure,
  • Reduction in the fight-or-flight response, and
  • Activation of the parasympathetic nervous system (aka the rest-and-digest response). 

RELATED:
Learn how to play a singing bowl with some great tips! Plus, what a singing bowl is, what it does, and when you can use it.

How To Play A Singing Bowl

Modern Scientific Studies

A 2017 study set out to explore the potential effects of a singing bowl meditation. They looked at mood, tension, anxiety, physical pain and spiritual well being.

Their published results found “highly significant” beneficial effects in all counts. There were scoring differences pre- and post treatment for “all subscale variables on the POMS, HADS and FACIT measures” (Goldsby, Tamara L et al. “Effects of Singing Bowl Sound Meditation on Mood, Tension, and Well-being: An Observational Study.” Journal of evidence-based complementary & alternative medicine vol. 22,3 (2017): 401-406.)

Mental Health

Similarly, another study found that patients diagnosed with mental health disorders showed visible improvement after music therapy. (“Is There A Role For Music Therapy In The Recovery Approach In Mental Health”)

“Studies on patients diagnosed with mental health disorders such as anxiety, depression, and schizophrenia have shown a visible improvement in their mental health after music therapy.”

McCaffrey T, Edwards J, Fannon D (2011). “Is there a role for music therapy in the recovery approach in mental health?”

Neurodegenerative Diseases

The John Hopkins Hospital opened the Centre for Music and Medicine in 2015. The centre’s co-founder is Alexander Pantelyat, M.D, who is a neurologist specializing in neurodegenerative diseases. He and his team are currently looking into how music affects the brains of Alzheimer’s patients using functional MRI. So far, they’ve seen that the regions of the brain that recall memory, maintain focus and evoke emotions all activate through music.

“Based on what we know already, music activates as many, if not more, parts of the brain than any other human activity”

Alexander Pantelyat, M.D., John Hopkins Hospital, Centre for Music and Medicine

Preventative Benefits

Another study found that music may even play a preventive role in neurodegenerative diseases. In it, researchers at MIT found that exposing mice to a combination of light and sound that fell within a certain frequency range actually changed the way their neurons fired. Additionally, it reduced the buildup of tau protein in their brains. Scientists currently think high levels of these proteins can be an underlying cause of Alzheimer’s.

Cognitive Improvement

In addition, the mice’s cognitive abilities increased after one week of sound treatment. They performed better when navigating a maze and were better able to recognize objects they’d previously encountered.

The scientists are hoping to study further to understand exactly why the certain sound frequency they used was effective. (Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “Brain wave stimulation may improve Alzheimer’s symptoms: Noninvasive treatment improves memory and reduces amyloid plaques in mice.” Science Daily, 14 2019)

“You can see how this is an exciting time for music and medicine research,” Pantelyat says. “The overall sense is that (it) can really have a meaningful impact on people’s lives, and… have minimal to no side effects.”

How Does Sound Healing Work?

As you know, everything is energy. Everything in our universe is in a constant state of vibration. However, what you might not know is that vibration is actually sound. We tend to think of sound purely as something audible to us, but the world around us, and the Universe, is brimming with sound vibrations that are beyond our limited capacity to hear. 

While science is not yet completely clear on how sound healing works, there are various theories. One leading theory is that the action of sound waves on the energy field of the body could be a major factor. Another relates to ‘binaural beats’ – a type of sound that feeds two unique frequencies into each ear, and the difference between the two causes the brain to enter a theta state. (Singing bowls naturally have these binaural beats.)

Singing bowls have become increasingly popular in modern day alternative healing and sound therapy. And a large part of this has to do with Cymatics. Cymatics is the study of modal vibrations. It is a ‘vibrational medicine’.

The Physical Body

As discussed above, sound can induce a therapeutic state in the listener. Furthermore, studies have shown that it can reduce stress – the leading cause of many modern day diseases.

But going beyond this, sound waves can change the cells in our body.

High Intensity Focused Ultrasound Procedure (HIFU) is an example of this. HIFU is a non-invasive prostate cancer treatment. It uses high-frequency sound waves to target and kill cancer cells, while leaving healthy cells unharmed.

Dr Mitchell Gaynor says that sound healing:

  • Alters cellular functions through energetic effects
  • Entrains biological systems to function more homeostatically
  • Calms the mind and therefore the body
  • Has positive emotional effects

All of these effects influence our neurotransmitters and neuropeptides. In turn, these help to regulate the immune system – the healer within.

Using different singing bowls

“…we know that vibration touches every part of our physical being, the way we understand sound is heard not only through our ears but through every cell in our bodies.

Dr. Mitchell Gaynor, Oncologist & Clinical Professor of Medicine at Weill Medical College of Cornel University, author ‘The Healing Power of Sound’

The Energetic Body

Sound healing and vibrational medicine are rooted in ancient spiritual practices. It is the understanding that the energetic body can develop blockages and/or become out of balance. These blockages or imbalances, if left unchecked, eventually manifest as illness in the physical body.

Thus, shamans and medicine people from ancient cultures around the world have always strived to heal the root of disease, the dis-ease in the energetic body, while treating the symptoms of the dis-ease manifesting as disease in the physical body.

By balancing the energetic body, proper flow of life energy is restored throughout the physical body. Thus disease and dis-ease both are cleared and released, and natural resonance is restored.

The human body is assigned seven main chakras. Each one is mapped to energy flow in different parts of the body, as well as mental patterns, emotions, and spiritual awareness. Furthermore, each chakra has its own resonance. Olivia Panella (Uma Gaia) says “Each chakra…can act as a map for our own inner harmonic or dis-harmonic resonance”.

History of Sound Healing

Shamans and medicine people around the world are known to have used chants, dances and rhythmic drumming to heal. While many still do to this day.

The aboriginal people of Australia are said to have used the didgeridoo (originally called the yidaki) for at least 40,000 years. Aboriginal healers believe that this sacred instrument’s frequency can assist in “healing broken bones, muscle tears and illnesses of every kind.” (“Sound Healing – Ancient Sounds” – Annaliese and John Stuart-Reid, Token Rock, 2017)

The oldest written record of a song known to us is an ode to the Goddess Nikkal, composed in cuneiform around the 1300’s. The earliest fragment of musical notation is on a 4000-year-old Sumerian clay tablet. 

By 5000 BCE, we have clear evidence that Egyptian priest-physicians were using music for healing. 

In China, the book “Yue Ji”, written more than 2,000 years ago talked about the important role of music in regulating life harmony and improving health. And “Zuo Zhuan” of the same era, recorded the famous doctors of the Qin state discussing music’s ability to prevent and treat diseases.

Sound healing even appears in the Bible. David played the harp to rid King Saul of a bad spirit (1 Sam 16:23).

Singing bowls temple worship
Singing bowls in temple worship

Where To Buy A Singing Bowl In South Africa?

Wondering where to buy singing bowls in South Africa? If you’re looking for high quality Tibetan singing bowls we can help 🙂

Find a range of Tibetan singing bowls for sale in our South African online shop.

We have a small range of high quality Tibetan singing bowls for sale in our online shop. We include a video of each one being played on the product page so that you can hear its tone before you buy a singing bowl.

In Summary

The healing benefits of singing bowls are endless, because vibrational medicine and sound healing treat the whole body. Simply through the act of relaxing, the body begins to heal. This is especially true when the body is able to enter an alpha or theta brainwave state, triggering the ‘relaxation response’.

Singing bowls induce these deep relaxation and meditative, therapeutic states. They can heal the energy body of blockages and imbalances, bringing the body back into stasis. The body is healed when life energy flow is restored.

If you’re in South Africa and interested in buying a Tibetan singing bowl, we have an excellent range of high quality singing bowls for you.

References

  • “Music Therapy: Historical Perspective” – Willian Davis, Kate Gfeller, Michael Thaut, 2008
  • “What is the oldest known piece of music?” – Evan Andrews, The History Channel
  • “The Healing Power of Sound”, Dr Mitchell Gaynor, Oncologist & Clinical Professor of Medicine, Weill Medical College of Cornel University
  • “Sacred Music Therapy In North India” – Patricia Cook, 1997
  • “Sound Healing – Ancient Sounds” – Annaliese and John Stuart-Reid, Token Rock, 2017
  • “Measuring Effects of Music, Noise and Healing Energy Using A Seed Germination Bioassay” – J Altern, Complementary Medicine, 2004
  • “Effects of Singing Bowl Sound Meditation On Mood, Tension, and Well-Being: An Observational Study” – Tamara Goldsby Et Al., Journal of Evidence-Based Complementary & Alternative Medicine Vol 22, 2017
  • “Case Report: Music Therapy in Rehabilitation & Recovery” – T McCaffrey, J Edwards, D Fannon, Music & Health Research Group, Irish World Academy of Music and Dance, University of Limerick, 2011
  • “How Sound Healing & Binaural Beats Can Boost Our Health” – Emma Louwe, Senior Sustainability Editor, Mind Body Green
  • “Brain Wave Stimulation May Improve Alzheimer’s Symptoms” – Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Science Daily

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