How to Play Tibetan Singing Bowls for Meditation and Relaxation

How to Play Tibetan Singing Bowls for Meditation and Relaxation
Table Of Content

What is a Singing Bowl?

A singing bowl is a type of bell that originated in the Himalayan region of Asia. Also known as Tibetan singing bowls or Himalayan bowls, these instruments produce a rich, soothing tone when played. Singing bowls are used for meditation, music, relaxation, and healing practices.

History and Cultural Significance

Singing bowls have a long history stretching back over 2,500 years. They are closely associated with Buddhist practices in Tibet, Nepal, India, and other countries where Buddhism is prevalent. In Buddhist tradition, singing bowls represent wisdom and serve as an auditory aid to enhance meditation.

In Eastern spiritual traditions, the pure, resonant tones of the singing bowls are believed to promote relaxation and offer healing properties. The harmonic frequencies may bring the body, mind and spirit into alignment. Today, people use singing bowl music and vibrations to find inner peace, reduce stress, deepen mindfulness, and more.

How Singing Bowls Produce Sound

Singing bowls produce sound through vibration, much like other types of bells and bowls. They tend to be made using a combination of various metals, often including copper, tin, silver, iron or gold. Singing bowls may also contain other metals or minerals such as zinc, nickel or meteorite dust.

The sound is produced by the vibration of the bowl as the mallet, wand or cushion strikes the side or rim. This causes the metal to resonate. The primary note depends on the thickness, size, shape and materials used. Additionally, overtones occur as the main note interacts with its harmonics, creating ethereal secondary notes.

Use of Mallets, Wands and Cushions

Most singing bowls come with a mallet and cushion or pad. The mallet can be moved around the rim to produce variations in tone. For softer, subtler tones, many people prefer using a suede-covered wand or a cushion instead.

Using a singing bowl cushion enables users to produce extended notes by leaving the cushion resting on the edge of the bowl, while drawing a mallet or wand around the edge creates a singing effect.

How to Play a Singing Bowl

While each singing bowl is unique, here is a general overview of common singing bowl playing techniques to help you get started:

1. Prepare Your Space

Start by setting up a quiet, comfortable space conducive to relaxation. You may want to dim the lights, light some candles or incense, and spread out a blanket or mat. Make sure the surface you'll be playing the bowl on is stable and free from obstructions.

2. Sit Comfortably

Sit on the floor with the singing bowl in front of you. Sit cross legged or kneel with a cushion under you. Have your mallet and cushion ready nearby. Make sure you are stable, relaxed and your arms can move freely.

3. Position the Bowl Properly

Place the bowl securely on its ring or bottom surface on the floor in front of you. Make sure it is stable and won't tip over easily. Position it an arm's length away at chest level for easy playing access.

4. Ring the Bowl

Gently use your mallet to make solid yet soft contact with various spots on the bowl’s side and rim. Don't strike too hard or you may damage the bowl - simply allow the mallet to rebound off. Experiment with different mallets and positions around the rim to produce assorted tones.

5. Make the Bowl Sing

Use the suede-covered wand or specially designed cushion to take your playing to the next level. Press it against the rim of the bowl then rub it around using consistent pressure and speed to create an unbroken tone. Practice controlling the length, volume and quality of tone.

6. Stop the Vibrations

When you wish to stop playing, place your hand flat on the bowl's surface then press down slightly to halt the vibrations. To avoid cracking, handle with care and never dampen vibrations too abruptly.

7. Adjust Your Playing Techniques

Each singing bowl has unique acoustic properties. Experiment with positioning and mallets to discover your bowl’s diverse spectrum of tones. With practice, you’ll quickly find the right techniques to allow your singing bowl to “sing” beautifully!

Using Singing Bowls for Meditation

One of the most popular uses of singing bowls today is for meditation. Their pure tone is ideal for cultivating a state of deep relaxation ideal for calming the mind.

Start by getting into a comfortable seated position. Take a few deep breaths and set your intention to clear your mind. Then play your singing bowl gently to immerse yourself in its soothing, harmonious tones. Allow any distracting thoughts to drift away while focusing only on your breath and the sound.

You can also experiment with humming or chanting harmonic notes along with the singing bowl. Feel the vibrations resonate within as the meditative tones promote inner quiet and stress relief.

Chakra Healing

In energy healing traditions, placing singing bowls tuned to different notes on corresponding chakra points on the body is believed to rebalance your spiritual energy centers. This may promote wellbeing and optimal health.

Caring for Your Singing Bowl

With regular care and maintenance, singing bowls can last for generations while retaining their signature pure, shimmering tone.

Regular Tuning

Over time and with frequent use, your singing bowl can lose its alignment and original tone. Taking it to a professional singing bowl shop annually for tuning can help keep it sounding its best.

Proper Storage

Always store singing bowls safely on a shelf or in protective casing to avoid damage or loss of tone quality through accidental bumps and knocks.

Careful Handling

Handle singing bowls gently when playing, carrying, cleaning and storing them. Never grasp the rim tightly, drop, hit or shake them as this can affect tuning and structural integrity.

Now that you know the basics of how to play a singing bowl, you can begin experimenting with producing soothing, meditative tones. Stay relaxed when playing and discover your own techniques to make your new instrument “sing” beautifully!


What are singing bowls made of?

Singing bowls are usually made from a combination of metals, often including copper, tin, silver, iron and sometimes other metals like zinc or nickel. Some also contain gemstones or mineral elements like meteorite dust.

How long do singing bowl vibrations last?

With proper technique, a singing bowl’s vibrations can be sustained for 30 seconds up to a minute or longer by leaving the mallet or cushion resting against the rim as it continues to vibrate.

Can the tone of my singing bowl change over time?

Yes, frequent use over many years can cause singing bowls to lose their original tuning and tone. Taking them to a specialty singing bowl shop annually for professional tuning can help maintain their signature tone.

What is the proper way to stop my singing bowl from vibrating?

To stop a singing bowl's vibrations, place your hand flat on top of the bowl and apply light downward pressure. Never dampen vibrations too abruptly as this can damage the bowl.

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