Good Vibrations Follow an Ancient Tradition
We climbed the steep ladder to the attic through a small square opening. Large crystal bowls were positioned along one wall. A small altar to the world's many religions was set up across the room. We were told to lie with our heads towards the center of the room for the best effect.
My husband and I were among 15 participants in a sound bath using crystal "singing bowls" at the Integratron, an unusual landmark located near the towns of Joshua Tree and Yucca Valley. Our experience could be said to have derived from the Tibetan or Nepalese singing bowls, whereby sound affects consciousness. Use of such bowls dates back to the era of the Buddha Shakyamuni (2500 years ago) in the Himalayas.
Singing bowls are said to have a million prayers, one for every hammer blow that forged them. As the bowls are made, prayers ("mantras") are recited and absorbed, to be released when played. In the Hindu creation story, all was dark and quiet in the universe, until the first movement created the sound "AUM." It is the mother tone, containing the frequencies of all other sounds.
The singing bowls resound in rich overtones that oscillate a very long time. The slow dying away of the sound goes to the limit of what is audible.
How the Bowls are Made
The bowls used in Buddhist and Hindu ritual are made of metal alloy, representing different planetary influences:
The traditional bowls are hand-turned on a lathe and then hammered by hand to the desired hardness and pitch.
The use of crystal is a fairly recent development. The modern bowls are composed of crushed and powdered quartz (silicon dioxide) that is put into a mold, centrifuged and fired at about 4000º C. Digital technology tests each bowl to identify its sound. The resulting bowls can send out an audible tone for almost 2000 feet.
As shown by their usefulness in electronic and telecommunications equipment, quartz crystals amplify, transform, store, focus, and transfer energy.
How the Bowls are Used
The deep, bell-like tones washed over us in successive waves. A knell rang out strong, then slowly ebbed away to the edge of silence. The harmonic vibration penetrated through our entire bodies.
The original usage of singing bowls was probably as a tool for meditation and enlightenment, concentration and trance; healing and exorcism; ceremony and magic. They were either struck or filled with water, rice, or flowers as offerings to the gods. Today, the bowls are used for relaxation, massage therapy, and simple musical enjoyment.
The theory is that certain sounds can heal by restoring our natural, internal rhythm and dissolving energy blocks, so that we return to balance. The body can heal itself most effectively when in a state of relaxation. That is, stress kills.
Relaxation proceeds as follows: The heartbeat adjusts to a slow, soothing pattern. The adrenal glands slow down. The reduced flow of adrenaline quiets the autonomic, immune, endocrine, and neuropeptide systems. The mind becomes calm.
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