Are you looking to learn how to meditate? Have you tried and feel that you can’t do it? Maybe you need a little assistance from a tool many people don’t know about! Today guest blogger, James Lynch, tells us about singing bowls and how to use them to help us get into a meditative state.
If you’ve never heard of a singing bowl, don’t worry, most people haven’t. In brief, a singing bowl is an inverted bell used primarily with meditation. They originated thousands of years ago in Asia and were incorporated into Buddhist ritual. Singing bowls became popular in Western culture around the same time that Buddhism did in the mid-Twentieth century as many prominent Tibetan Buddhists, including the Dalai Lama, became well-known for advocating against Communist China. As Westerners came to embrace Buddhism, the practice of meditation grew as well.
When a lot of people start practicing meditation, they find it difficult. A common assumption is that you just sit in a quiet space and don’t think; but that’s not really what it’s all about. Real meditation is a strengthening of the mind. It’s gaining control of your thoughts and not letting them run amok… and it can be real challenging at first!
My early attempts to form a consistent meditation routine failed. But through a little research, I discovered that the use of a meditation aide, such as a singing bowl can help a ton (or any other bell and gong for that matter).
My first singing bowl is still the one I use to this day. It was a plain copper singing bowl that I’d purchased from a local Buddhist-themed bookstore in town. For awhile, I would just sit and let the bowl “sing”. This is done by gently circling the rim of the bowl with a short wooden ‘striker’. It causes a beautiful resonance that can bring about a sort of momentary hypnosis in many people; that’s one way to find focus with these bowls.
The primary method for using singing bowls with meditation is by simply striking them once to begin your meditation and then once again to signal the end.
I’ll explain how I use it:
First, I choose a time and place that will be void of any distractions. Then I’ll sit down cross-legged upon my zafu meditation pillow (not necessary, but very helpful with discomfort when sitting like that for a long time). I’ll do a sort of pre-meditation by taking in really deep breaths, holding them, and then exhaling a few times. I’ll try to look around and appreciate any beauty I see in my surroundings; then I’ll be ready to begin. The singing bowl will be set on the ground in front of me and I’ll give it a nice strike just once and immediately let the tone completely flood my mind. As the hum fades away, I let my thoughts do the same and imagine that I’m now nowhere, such as outer space; there’s nothing except myself.
Everyone seems to find their own way to maintain the meditation session, but I find that being mindful of my breathing helps to keep the mind from overtaking the occasion. I’ll let my thoughts float on by, but will not dwell upon them. If I’m outside, I’ll often try to hone in on each of my senses and let each one dominate the meditation for a few minutes at a time as well. Once I feel like the meditation has been successful, I’ll softly open my eyelids at the ground, pick up the striker, and give the singing bowl a gentle hit. With that note I will allow myself to let my real surroundings re-enter my reality and am ready to conclude my session.
While a singing bowl is not a necessary part of meditation, it can be a wonderful aide. I also appreciate the bowl as an item of decor or feng shui that is a constant reminder in my home to live a life of peace and always strive to be mindful of everything. I hope you’ll find singing bowls as helpful as I have. Namaste.
About the Author
James Lynch owns and operates SingingBowlZen.com, a wonderful online resource for both buying and researching singing bowls. Living just outside Ann Arbor, MI, he’s had an interest in Buddhism and meditation for many years, but James’ real love and attention are given to his two beautiful children and lovely wife.
Are you ready to try a singing bowl?