Early morning Tibetan Singing Bowl Meditation session was the favorite part of my trip to Pokhara. That is an uncommon thing to say as not many people know what the heck is a singing bowl. To start with Singing Bowls are metal bowls which are used as inverted bells to produce music for meditation and relaxation. Sounds relaxing already? People in the west, started hearing about Tibetan Singing Bowls in the past few years. In my experience, whether Buddhist or non-Buddhist, young people or very old people, everybody is attracted to its sound. Last year we got the chance to experience Singing Bowls right in the middle of the Himalayas. Check out some fast facts on how to get a nice and relaxing meditation session in Nepal.
Fast Facts about Tibetan Singing Bowl
- Origin- Buddhist | China and Tibet
- Famous for- Sound therapy and Meditation
- Price Range- $30 to $70
- Meditation Session- $10 to $20
Tibetan Singing Bowl in Pop Culture
To get an idea, Google ‘top 10 tracks to reduce anxiety’. You’ll get a list of tracks which are scientifically rated as stress relievers. Try ‘Weightless’ by Marconi Union. The track is scientifically designed to slow down your heart rate and relieve you of anxiety and stress. The track has singing bowl notes which give a tingling sensation when you deeply listen to it. So imagine what a live Singing Bowl Meditation session would feel like.
Why Singing Bowl Meditation is an ideal way to heal your body?
Imagine an out of tune guitar which you haven’t played in years. Once the guitar strings are tuned with the notes you are ready to play and make some music. It’s the same with your body too. You are stressed out with work and daily chores, and your body feels untuned. Music therapy not only tunes your body parts but also leaves you in a relaxed state of mind.
Where can you do Singing Bowl Meditation in Nepal?
Being our lazy self, Pokhara was just another laid back vacation for me and my husband. We were taking long afternoon naps and took a light stroll along the Lake Phewa. It was one fine day, we observed lakeside yoga centres which were giving singing bowl meditation classes to tourists. We chose ‘Atmashree Yoga Centre’ in Happy Village as it was close to our Airbnb stay. It’s a 2 storey building which houses guests who specifically come for a yoga retreat. International tourists come here and stay for 1-2 weeks to relax and detox amid the mother nature. The Centre is run by two brothers and their families who are trained in Yoga from India.
How to do Singing bowl Meditation?
With a little apprehension we climbed up the hill from the main road along the lake and knocked on the doors of the center. A young man welcomed us and offered us some green tea. We requested for a singing bowl meditation session for the next early morning. July is off season in Nepal and thus lot of trained practitioners were not available in Pokhara for the session. The young man himself agreed to take the session at 7 o clk in the morning.
Session- Preparation and Experience
The session must be taken on an empty stomach. It is recommended to freshen up and get your bowel movement sorted before the session. As you enter the prayer room, there will be yoga mats arranged in a circle. The young man was seated in the centre with 7 different sized Tibetan bowls with wooden striking sticks. He asked us to lie down on the mats and go into deep sleep. After that, he started creating sounds from the bowls by hitting them like bells. In between he used to strike them on the rims in circular motion to produce echoing ringing sound. After about half an hour, he made us to sit and brought different bowls closer to our chakras to sync up our organs with the sound vibrations. The vibrations were so strong that they created a ringing sense of echo in our mind which used to last for few seconds till another bowl was ringed.
Though mid-way I started feeling the pressure to pee. The pressure was wreaking havoc on my bladder and I lost my focus for 5 mins. I decided to take a break and quickly joined back. And yes it sure was relaxing after that (Pretty sure meditation detoxifies my bladder).
So here we are back to our Airbnb, after experiencing the best meditation session so far in our lives. The whole day we decided to have green teas and veggies only to preserve our cleansed bodies for a day.
Where can you buy Singing Bowls in Nepal?
There are a lot of shops selling singing bowls (and other ritual objects) along the lake side. From the poorest quality to handmade pieces, you can get confused which one to choose, if you are left in a shop full of singing bowls. All tend to be overpriced and good negotiating skills are required to get a good deal.
In Pokhara, there is a shop dedicated to singing bowls only near Café Concerto.
In Kathmandu there are two main places- Boudha and near Patan Durbar Square. Around the stupa at Boudhanath there a number of shops like the ones in Thamel, the quality varies but there are a couple of places that sell very high quality bowls, works of art for export and to supply monasteries and monks’ & nuns’ personal shrines. These places might sell high quality bowls too. There are also good shops to the north of the Stupa aimed at locals – because fewer tourists buy there and the same applies to the shops along the main road. I think you are likely to get better value here than Thamel whatever quality level you are looking for. The same applies to Patan too; there are several shops that sell their own products from nearby workshops (Patan is the traditional metal working area).
How to play Singing Bowls?
- Hold the singing bowl on the palm of the left hand. For smaller bowls, seven inches and under, hold on your fingertips.
- Grasp the mallet about mid-length, with all the fingertips pointing downwards and touching the wood. (If you are using one of our padded mallets, the red wool should be on top.) Palm downward.
- Gently tap the mallet against the side of the bowl to “warm-up” the bell.
- With an even pressure, rub the mallet clockwise around the outside edge of the rim of the bowl. Use a full arm movement, just like stirring a big kettle of soup, and keep the mallet straight up and down! Again, it’s not a wrist movement, but a full-arm movement.
Remember to apply pressure– the friction of the mallet against the outer rim produces vibrations which result in sound.
Experiment with your speed. Usually people go too fast! Let the sound build up slowly as the singing bowl picks up the vibration.