"Vibrational Healing & Trance Inductions Using Singing Bowls"
After decades of study and research into the consciousness-altering effects of sound and music from around the world, I was drawn more and more to the practices of the Buddhists and Bonpo from the Himalayan region now known as Tibet. Their "extended vocal techniques" utilizing polyphonic (overtone) chanting, which produces two or three notes simultaneously, have a transcendental power and unearthly beauty. These vocal sounds can be learned but take some time and diligence to master.
The metal Singing Bowls from Tibet, Nepal, and northern India have become increasingly available in the west over the past decade. Compared to learning overtone chanting, the bowls are relatively easy to play. Most people can make a bowl "sing" in the first 5-10 minutes. A number of physicians and hospitals have recently begun to utilize the bowls with cancer patients and others suffering serious illnesses. Mitchell L. Gaynor, M.D., Director of Medical Oncology and Integrative Medicine at Strang-Cornell Cancer Prevention Center, affiliated with New York Hospital, authored the best-selling book, Sounds of Healing. Subtitled "A Physician Reveals the Therapeutic Power of Sound, Voice, and Music," the book is a resounding endorsement of the principles outlined in this article, and cites numerous research projects from around the world as scientific "proof" of the ability of sound and music to heal.
It behooves us, in our training as guides, healers, and hypnotists, not only to finely attune our sensory acuity, so as to be able to sense our clients' rhythms, but also to study some of the ancient shamanic techniques for entrainment, and understand their relevance to 21th century research into brain wave activity.
There is very little information available in written form on the singing bowls. Their origin is somewhat of a mystery, and seems to be shrouded in secrecy. They have been used for thousands of years; anecdotal evidence claims that they pre-date Buddhism, and were created and used by the Bon. Originally the term "bon" designated the various existing religious and magico-ritual traditions, very probably based on elements common to the heritage of pan Asiatic Shamanism.
However the people of the Himalayas used the bowls, one thing is certain: contemporary Western people are deeply moved in a special way when they first encounter them. Many feel that their spirit has been touched when they listen to the living sound of the bowls. I have played the bowls for thousands of people... I have yet to encounter anything other than a positive response. A frequently heard comment is that although the sounds are completely new and different from anything they have ever heard, there is something extraordinarily familiar about them. This feeling is less strong when heard from recordings than in person. The sound from the bowls instills great space and peace. A sense of well-being and relaxation is experienced. The vibration seems to synchronize with brain waves for therapeutic effect.
(For more on Himalayan Singing Bowls, see the Singing Bowls page on this site.)