For most people, Tibetan singing bowls are merely a type of musical instrument. However, while this may be true, more and more alternative health practitioners are now beginning to recognise the healing and health benefits of these items. Traditionally, the bowls have been used by Buddhist monks for meditation, and the relaxation benefits of doing this have encouraged researchers to see if the general health benefits are anything more than psychological. A significant number of massage and yoga therapists already believe in Tibetan bowl healing, and this has raised its profile in the world of alternative therapy.
The concept of using these bowls for healing derives from the way in which they are played. There is a bowl and a hammer, and a sound is generated by striking the bowl and rubbing the rim in a circular motion. Different tones and pitches can be created by the speed of movement around the outside of the bowl. In any given situation, a musician may have multiple bowls to create a full range of notes. The scientific principle is exactly the same as tapping a drinks glass and running your finger around the top, and the resulting energy is the element that determines the sound that is heard. This energy is also the focus of research into these healing properties.
When a bowl is played, a tone is created that is both rich and deep in nature. The sound energy that is produced is best described as a ‘vibration’, and it is now known that this is the key element that has a beneficial effect on the human body. Fans of this healing process say that the unique sound helps to reduce stress, and a knock-on effect of reducing stress is that the body’s immune system is strengthened. There may also be additional benefits for the immune system, as it has also been confirmed that these vibrations stimulate the subject’s resistance mechanisms against potentially harmful illnesses. Cellular health is also something that gets mentioned by members of the scientific community, as these vibrations can encourage cells to function in perfect harmony with each other. The style of Tibetan singing bowl music can also help the respiratory system, although there is a psychological element to this as the rhythm of the music provides an ideal beat for breathing exercises
These are all statements that have been made by individuals who are involved within the healing profession, but there is also scientific research available that backs up the healing properties of music from Tibetan bowls. In 2010, Kathleen R. Humphries of Loyola Marymount University published her ‘Healing Sound: Contemporary Methods for Tibetan Singing Bowls’ research paper*. Her motivation for this paper was to provide an extension to music therapy that had been practised on the injured soldiers of World War II. Musicians had been sent to hospitals for those who had been injured in battle, albeit with more conventional instruments.
Her findings concentrated on both the mental and physical benefits of this singing bowl music. From a mental perspective, she concluded that when two particular notes were played at the same time, it was possible for ‘one to experience cosmic states of mind, otherwise unattainable in a conscious state.’ In terms of stress reduction and total relaxation, this is clearly ideal. Physically, she also concluded that the meditative state reduces ‘heart rate, blood pressure, respiratory rate, epinephrine, cortisol and cholesterol.’ These discoveries were based on tests that took the results from EEG readings and other indicators. In addition to this, the readouts of brain signals also showed that there was reduced activity in the areas of the brain that control ‘depression, addictive cravings, and substance abuse.’ According to the report, the brain is the main area affected by the music as it is a form of sound massage. Every single process in the human body has its own section of the brain for control, which shows that the sound energy produced by Tibetan bowls has the potential to make a real difference to human health.
Alongside these physical and mental benefits, there are also Tibetan music fans that promote the spiritual benefits of this music. Historically, Tibetan monks and other prominent Buddhists have declared that this music can help people get in touch with Shambhala, one of the most mythical hidden kingdoms of Inner Asia. In the Buddhist tradition, this kingdom is ‘visionary or spiritual as much as physical or geographic.’ Shambhala aside, the meditative state that is created by Tibetan music is generally helpful for promoting inner spiritual awareness. A calm mind is necessary to have the opportunity for self-reflection, and this has an overall positive effect on someone’s spirituality.
In 1984, Peter-Hess developed a method of sound massage that concentrates on using Tibetan singing bowls. Moving forward to the present day, there are now 17 institutions that collectively form The Peter-Hess Institute. Trained therapists from the institute are involved with more than 400 events every single year, and their seminars cover the physical, mental, spiritual and emotional benefits of singing bowl music. They also develop the curricula for training courses, and the Peter-Hess Academy provides the required training to become a certified Peter-Hess Practitioner. The institute also recognises the importance of ongoing research in this field, with their continued support for relevant projects.
The Peter-Hess institute is involved with every stage of the sound healing process, and this includes the production of the actual bowls as well. Members of the institute will only work with bowls that have been through a very specific process, and this begins in the nation of Tibet. Their manufacturing partner is based in this ancient kingdom that lies north-east of the Himalayas. Their bowls are made of either 7 or 12 different metals, and the precise metals are only selected after a number of decision-making processes. Once the bowls have been forged, they are exported to one of the Peter-Hess Institute sites and they go through a final selection. This identifies the very best singing bowl products, and it ensures that their therapists will always produce Tibetan sounds of the finest quality. The whole range includes the Acama, Bengali and Himalaya product lines – each category brings different benefits during sound massage therapy.
The combination of a high-quality singing bowl and a certified Peter-Hess practitioner brings the most benefits for a course of sound therapy. The quality of the sound produced has been assured through their extensive quality control process, and every practitioner has been through rigorous training at the institute. They are aware of every mental, physical and spiritual benefit that is offered by Tibetan singing bowl music, and they are the best-qualified individuals to carry out the therapy.
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