Also known as the Himalayan bowl or cup gong, a singing bowl is a musical instrument used in Buddhist meditation that dates back to centuries ago. They are traditionally played in Tibet, Nepal, India, China, Japan, and Korea, mostly by Buddhist monks and in monasteries.
The singing meditation bowl is made of metal, often including precious metals such as silver and gold; other feature in many bowls’ metallic makeup includes copper, tin, zinc, lead, iron, and nickel. Commonly, singing meditation bowls can be made of many different metals.
Singing meditation bowls are played by hitting, striking, or slowly rubbing or stirring a wooden striker or mallet within or on the top of the outer surface of the bowl. The bowl will produce a continuous harmonic sound when done correctly. This sound is said to be relaxing and good for chakra, a form of meditation. At present, a singing meditation bowl is used for yoga, healing, sound massage, sound therapy, chakra balancing, and other forms of meditation.
Singing meditation bowls come in different shapes, sizes, designs, colors, carvings and crafts. Some may be found with various religious themes and symbols like the Tibetan mantra chant Om Mani Padme hum, dragon carvings, mandala carvings, Buddhist religious symbols, and many more. The art of making traditional bowls is considered a lost art, most old bowls contain very little or no ornamentation at all.
The bowls are mostly hand made, apart from some tools used for shining and polishing, and fall into two categories: the hand-hammered (beaten) singing bowl, mostly coming from Nepal and India, and are manufactured in the traditional processes; and the colored, carved and crafted bowl, which are popular for gifts, decorations, and souvenir items, mostly coming from the Himalayan country, Nepal.
Today, singing meditation bowls have become so famous, that even those who don’t really meditate have it in their houses for displays and decorations. They can’t really be blamed as this singing meditation bowls come in such fascinating and exquisite designs. However, for some of those who use the singing meditation bowl for a much higher purpose, like meditating, see it as an icon for human spirituality, representing human spirit as a vessel containing not only the limiting nature of who and what we are.
The outward or surface appearance of a singing meditation bowl represents our constantly changing nature; we are never the same from one moment to the next as events and interactions cause separate and additional changes within us. Some events may cause important changes to who we are, and others may just create a subtle effect that buries within us, whatever change it may have on us, the designs of the singing meditation bowl that we choose, is a representation of who and what we are. Whether we have them for decorations or use them for meditations, it will always be a symbol of human spirituality.