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Singing Bowls: Our Primordial Voice
by Dresden Moss

"Primordial Consciousness sings the Secondary Echo;
  from this the Symphony of Manifestation arise."

-Teja Energetics-


Celestial Harmonics have been known to Mystics for thousands of years. They speak of everything seen and unseen as having their origin in a kind of Primordial note, or Voice. Today scientists have recorded some of these sounds and are seeking the "background" noise of the Universe's origin.

Understanding that everything is music in various forms has led healers to incorporate this knowledge into their practice. Since illness is considered a discord within the individual's overall Symphony, one can affect the patient's harmonics when certain notes are played, thus bringing about healing and balance.

One very powerful tool is the Singing Bowl. Shrouded in mystery, it has long been thought its origins lay with the Bon Religion in Tibet, although these practitioners of Harmonics never outwardly acknowledged their existence. Another theory suggests these bowls were produced by travelling metal smiths for Buddhist priests who may have used them in ceremonial offerings. Since offerings had to be perfect, the quality and craftsmanship of these bowls represented the highest skills of metallurgy then known. Yet, like the Bon, when asked if they were ever used in ceremony as "Singing Bowls," the priests reply "never."

Generally, singing bowls were not known to the West until the 1960s when travelers to India, Tibet and Nepal returned with reports of hearing wonderful melodies produced by striking or rubbing the sides of bowls. They were first encountered in Nepalese shops, and when asked what they were, the reply was "Tibetan Singing Bowls." However, when pressed to elaborate where they came from, shopkeepers were mute. Thus the myth and mystery surrounding them began. It is believed even today these bowls were brought by refugees fleeing Tibet when the Chinese invaded in the 1950s, although this claim has never been substantiated. There is no documentation from Tibet explaining anything about singing bowls, either their use or how they are made. Many scholars feel the bowls were actually made in Nepal and traded throughout India and Tibet by travelling merchants.


How Singing Bowls Are Made

What gives singing bowls their wonderful mystique is their clear, harmonious tones, which places the listener into a meditative state. Unlike other metal instruments, singing bowls can produce up to 4 tones and vibrate a third and fifth of an octave apart. Research has shown this stimulates the brain to produce Alpha waves.

Yet, this in no accident. Those who constructed these bowls fully understood the deeper secrets of metallurgy: each metal has its unique tone and when combined with others, create harmonics: either harmonious or chaotic. Two distinct melodies are produced either by striking or rubbing the bowl's rim. This is accomplished because of two factors inherent to the bowls themselves: the thickness of the rim in relation to the bottom and the varying quantity of the metals used in their construction.

Seven metals were chosen to represent known planets at the time. They are: gold (Sun), silver (Moon), mercury (Mercury), copper (Venus), iron (Mars), tin (Jupiter) and lead (Saturn). Proportions were modified to produce the unique song of each bowl. Although the technique of their manufacture is unclear, researchers speculate these metals were combined, heated then poured onto flat rocks and pounded into their familiar shape. Some were coated with a black finish; others had more of a silver hue or gold color. Many bowls had the owner's name, prayers or designs etched along the outside rim. A few contained stars, circles or rings on the inside of the bowls themselves. It took great skill and knowledge to not only shape the bowl without cracking the metal, but getting the right thickness to sing within the correct octave. Singing bowls haven't been produced this way in nearly fifty years. Thus the skills necessary to manufacture them is lost. Today they are machine turned, and because their metallic composition isn't the same, they lack the wondrous harmonics of their ancestors.


Singing Bowls and Chakra Fields

Because of the their unique qualities, singing bowls can be applied to energetic healing. I have utilized these in my practice for several years and am constantly amazed by their profound influence.

Using singing bowls to affect Chakras as specified by Teja Energetics requires 9 elements found within the bowl's manufacture. These 9 elements blend to create the harmonic vibration within each Primary Chakra field (see March/April's issue for more details on Chakras). Besides the metals listed above, two elements are added: Stars and Earth. From the Stars comes the Earth and from the Earth the metals are found.

In keeping with the Teja model, Stars affect the upper energy field and represent Fire. From Fire the elements are melted and forged. Earth affects the lower Field and represents Water. Water cools and hardens the metals. The Central Energy Field is the combined effort of Stars and Earth; herein lies the 7 metals contained in the bowl. Because of this, Singing Bowls produce harmonious blends of frequencies within their octaves to have profound effects on our 9 body Chakras.

The size, shape and metallic composition of Singing Bowls determine which of the 3 Primary Chakra fields are affected. Though bowls appear very similar in shape, even near identical bowls will affect different Chakras within the same field. These subtle variations allow the practitioner to target specific Chakras rather than treating just the Primary Field. Bowls with low harmonics influence the lower Chakras, while those of higher frequency work on the upper Chakras. Below is a list of bowl size and the Chakras they affect. These are rough estimations. When shopping for bowls it is best to let one's intuition be their guide, since each bowl's frequency interacts differently between practitioners.

Size Note Chakra
Small 4.7 A/Ag# 9th Crown
  G#/A 8th Third Eye
Medium 5.7 C#F# 7th Throat
Med. Lrg. 6.5 C#/D 6th Heart
Large 8 D/D 5th Solar Plexus
Xlarge 10 C/C 3rd Dan Tian
XXLarge 12 G/Bb 1-2nd Root

Selecting Singing Bowls

Small to medium bowls are easy to find. The larger ones are scarcer since fewer were manufactured. Some bowls can be found with a black finish; this was applied by the metalsmith. The black finish is important because it gives the bowl its tone. If polished off, it can ruin or adversely affect the sound quality.

It is easy to recognize hand made from machine-turned bowls although a few enterprising smiths are making bowls on machines then pounding forge marks into them to make them appear more traditional. Hand-forged bowls will look crude, their rims vary in height and may not be perfectly round. A few bowls will actually show areas where the metals aren't blended well. Some bowls are very heavy, while others are much lighter; this again is due to the proportions of metals in their construction. It is these variations that give bowls their individual characteristics.

Since each bowl is unique, it is important to feel if its harmonics are compatible with the practitioner. Some bowls may repel, others invite. This is due to their interaction with the listener's energy field. It doesn't mean these bowls are inferior, only that their harmonics don't blend well.

To test a bowl, hold it in the palm of your hand and strike it with the palm of your other hand. You will feel the bowl vibrate then produce a low tone. Listen to the quality of the sound: round, sharp, smooth, etc. Where does it affect the body? What is the mood or emotion it evokes? Are you repelled or drawn into the sound? Next take a playing stick and gently tap the rim. This produces the higher tones. Again listen to the sound's effect. Allow the tones to fade away; this is a clue as to the bowl's resonance and quality. Once you're satisfied, press the stick against the outside rim and gently circle it around. You'll feel the bowl vibrate then gradually it will sing. When the melody is at its peak, stop playing and allow it to fade. You should be able to hear at least 2 octaves when it is played. This last test is the most critical in determining the bowl's energetic effect, since it combines all its qualities.


Application of Singing Bowls

Since Singing Bowls generate vibrational harmonics closely aligned to the Chakras and 6 Etheric bodies, they are powerful healing tools. Many patients today suffer from a variety of spiritual disharmonies ranging from depression to severe insomnia and eating disorders. Generally this is the result of not being "connected" in their lower Chakras. The physical demands imposed are so great many people subconsciously "live in their heads" to numb the stress. Over a period of time this results in disharmony between Primary Chakra fields.

Singing bowls can polarize these fields and bring about balance. By "grounding" the patient, it gives them the insight, confidence and strength to deal with everyday challenges. This focus allows them to take charge of their lives and not feel victimized by a cold, impersonal society. Their health improves and with it many of the modern illnesses.


Dresden Moss, M.Ac.O.M., L.Ac. operates a private practice in Portland. He is trained in both Eastern and Western medicine and has been in the medical field 20 years. He is a visionary artist, writer and musician. He specializes in Energetic Healing and began developing the Teja Energetic system while a student at the Oregon College of Oriental Medicine. His spiritual path is that of Tara: Goddess of Compassion, and he became a Green Tara Initiate in 1997.

For more information about Teja Energetics write: Dresden Moss, L.Ac., 11701 NE 95th St., Suite C, Vancouver, WA 98682. (360) 883-6292, VM (360) 418-3929.