William at Down 2 Earth April 2012

William Ward, a former New Yorker who resides now in Pensacola, FL was a Chef for 13 years.  To relieve his job related stress, he discovered meditation.  He now has a full time sound healing practice and has been a Bodhisattva customer since 2009.  William will be playing his collection of Bodhisattva singing bowls on the program shifthappensradio.com on 6/21/12.  We are in the process of building William a two-octave Master Healing set.


How did you get involved with bowls?

 That’s one of the most important questions.  It started with a meditation.  In a meditation, there was a sound that I can’t even begin to describe with words – it brought a knowing of an unconditional love that was there – just the deepest experience of peace I’d ever had.  What it taught me was that God was real within us, which was what I was looking for and was the reason I was meditating.  A few months later, I walked into a conscious living store, heard a CD playing and heard the bowls.  Tears of remembrance of the sound I experienced flooded me, and I knew I had to look into it.  And that’s how it all started.

You started with Crystal bowls? 

 The Crystal bowls and Tibetan bowls came at the same time.

What were you looking for?

 I was looking for what I had experienced in that sound and I wasn’t finding it everywhere.  That’s why I stuck with you guys. I’ve done a lot of research and looked around and you guys connected very well with everything I was looking for.

Did you study with any one?

I read some books, Mitchell Gaynor, “The Healing Power of Sound”, and Jonathan Goldman “Healing Sounds”.  They were both very helpful, as they expressed my experience in ways I couldn’t yet grasp with my own words. Reading up on it helped me to find my own words, for which I am eternally grateful.

So you never studied with anybody, but you read the books and got started from there?

 Yes.  It was more an intuition that just brought everything together – the more I worked with them and shared them, the more intuition expanded from the experience.  The experience was the knowing. I just followed that.

Please talk to me about how you integrate the Crystal and the Tibetan Bowls.  Usually people resonate with one or the other.

 What I was looking for was to recreate that sound in the experience I had – it is my wish for everyone to experience that for themselves. I found that to re-create that sound, I had to use more bowls, I had to fill in certain spaces.  And it opened my eyes to see how chords were playing while I was filling in the spaces, and it expanded from there.  I loved the harmonies and the timbres and the higher frequencies when I brought in the Tibetans.

Tell me how you work with the Chakras.

 I was very skeptical about the Chakras and didn’t understand them in the beginning. So I really put some time into understanding them for myself.  It’s psychosomatic, because our Chakras lie along our Central Nervous System.  I realized what effects our nervous system the most is our thoughts about reality. Who I think I am affects every way in which I will express myself.

We’re all spirit having a human experience; however, if I’m too connected to the human experience it limits that awareness.  Where our blocks happen is when we forget this reality.  Reality is itself the seen and the unseen working hand in hand.  I started seeing everything as vibration – whether you can see it or not, it is in vibrating form like an orchestra playing its song.  So when I say reality, everything in existence has its song that it’s singing, each component or instrument is vital for the whole composition.  And we as humans have that awareness of observation. So where and who we think we are, we are.  But we don’t have to stay there.  And that’s the correlation I was making with the Chakras being psychosomatic – reality is limitless, it always has been.

Usually when we hear the word psychosomatic, it refers to someone manifesting a physical condition simply by believing they have it.  Is that what you mean be psychosomatic?

Not manifesting, but knowing it to be true. For example, our Root Chakra is connected with physicality. And we can stop there, which most of us do, or we can look to see energetic origins of physicality, which would raise our awareness of that Chakra more.

How did you choose working with the diatonic scale system as the basis of the Chakras as opposed to any other system?

 I never put any thought to it, I just went where I was guided, which isn’t as simple as it sounds.  I just went with my intuition.  But I do love to learn how other people use their styles and techniques.

When you do your sessions, you just put the Tibetans on the body?

Almost always. Sometimes I’ll also place the crystal bowls on the body.

How do you decide that?

Each session is different.  There’s a knowing in the moment.  What I love about the bowls is that it’s not imparting a verbal knowledge to them, it’s sharing the experience with them, which is priceless.

Why do you do what you do?

 It was important for me when I experienced that peace within, that became my new passion.  And I know that when everyone can find that place that is within them, we will all know, so naturally, how we can move forward together, in a sustainable way for the environment, our children and their children.

Tell me about the show you’re doing.

 El – the host of Shift Happens radio – called me and said  that she’d heard from quite a few people about me, and she wanted me to come on for a two hour segment.  It will be airing 10 PM EST 6/21 and will be available on podcast afterward.  www.shifthappensradio.com.

Tell me about the collection from BTC you will be using tomorrow.

I’ll definitely be using my C# Highwall and the Pentatonic set, and then I’ll use Pentatonic cup set if I have the spacing.  I have one E that was gifted to me that’s a 10 or a 12”, so I don’t know if I’ll have the space for it or not.  For the crystal bowls, I have an Alchemy set.

So you will be giving us that experience tomorrow.  We’re really looking forward to hearing it!

Marie Bergman, a musician and singer from Stockholm, Sweden, visited Bodhisattva on a quest to find a bowl.  With great ease, she selected a 10 7/8″ with a slightly sharp G fundamental on the second octave – a perfect choice for a singer.  As she bonded with her bowl, she began to sing – almost as if her process of getting to know the bowl was to sing with it.  Ever ready with my trusty iphone, I captured the moment in video.  Marie was also kind enough to give her an interview and talk about her work:

Can you tell us about your background in music?

I am a professional musician and singer/songwriter for some thirty years.  I have made twenty recordings with my own compositions and three CDs with jazz music.  I have been touring in Scandinavia for many years and  have also represented Sweden in a European Song contest three times.  My voice has a pretty wide range and I have always all the time been searching for more ways of expressing myself through the wonders of the voice.  I find the voice has endless possibilities!

Your singing felt like a lullaby to me.  Were you at all influenced by the folk music of Sweden?

Well, folk music is running in my blood but it is not the core of my expression.  When I sing with the bowls it often shines through like an archetypal depth of the voice.  But my toning comes out differently each time.

How did you come to explore harmonics?

In the mid-80’s I had a lot of problems with my voice.  I was performing rock n roll and raw soul, and I was hard on the voice.  I was also in pain from too much tension.  This all together created a (very much needed…) breakdown.  I silenced myself for a long time and when I returned to the sound again, I learned to sing and express myself differently.  I  also during this time experienced the healing power of the voice and learned to breathe much deeper.   I started to meditate and take care of myself.  I became fascinated of the voice´s capability to adjust and how it helped me mature my singing and through this I started to experience toning as a training method.  It became my freedom.  And that helped me keep the singing voice even more fresh and vital.  I discovered there was a lot of power and life force in the harmonics.  I started to listen to them very carefully.

How do you use harmonics in your music?

I differ my singing voice from the toning voice.  My singing voice is a storyteller, where the words are important but also the sounds of the words.  Songs are form. Harmonics makes my singing voice more clear and lifts the flow, making the singing physical and powerful without pressure.  When I tone, I stay more purposely with the harmonics, letting them vibrate and resonate in their own frequency and time.  Together with the bowls, the expression gets strong and spiritual.  I use the mouth and the body resonators differently when I tone.  I become like a wind instrument.

What attracted you to singing bowls?

The beautiful archetypal sound, the physical resonance, the timeless vibration, the beauty and the wisdom!

How do you use their vibration in sound healing?

I work with voice and Ssinging bowls in different settings.  Sometimes more performance-like when the purpose is to gather people.  When I do sound healing on the bodymind, I direct the sounds from the bowl and my voice to the body (my own or another’s) with a special intention.  I also put the different bowls on different parts of the body of a client when I do ”singing bowl-massage”.  I am trained in sound healing as well as in the ”Peter Hess method” of singing bowl-massage. I often combine sound healing and singing bowl-massage and train others as well.  Peter Hess singing bowl-massage is a wonderful, deep relaxation method for regaining spiritual and physical health, to refresh and vitalize your cells as well as your muscles, tissues and organs.  In the massage, I place different sizes of  bowls on different specific parts of the body.  I strike them gently and let the beautiful matching frequencies of the bowls do their magic wave work with elegance and grace.

Tell us of how you are using the bowls in your community.

My own voice school BERGMAN VOICE and the use of singing bowls has developed as an extension from my singing seminars and teaching at the Music Conservatories in Sweden, Norway and Denmark.  I run seminars in toning and voice workshops all year round.  I offer singing bowl-massage.  Sometimes I perform with the bowls and let them illustrate a poem or resonate beautifully and sensually with a song.  I always have them with me even when I give singer/songwriter performances solo or with the band.  I use them in the concerts in at least one or two songs.

Come Together Ceremony, Katarina Church

I use the bowls when I do my gatherings in one of the biggest churches in Stockholm, the Katarina church.  I call it ”Come Together-Ceremonies”.  Everyone is welcome.  I always open this ceremony with the singing bowl and my voice, an improvisation where the resonance is flying freely under the heights in the cathedral.  It always gives me and everybody goose bumps.  Then I teach the audience how to tone and they gather in a circle with their voices and I also let them walk around in the church, singing freely.  They are happy!  It’s very beautiful.  See the You Tube link.

How did you discover the language?

I was training a lot with the voice, also did a quite heavy sound therapy and sound healing to clean blockages and resistances in the beginning to allow myself to get out of the box.  When I started to play the bowls it kind of powered up the voice by itself.  I guess the voice was very happy about the good vibrations!  I learned to keep out of pressure as much as possible and another language was discovered and created.

Do you find yourself at home in a certain key?

I try to widen the voice range as much as possible. I find that all the frequencies has its own fascination.  I also find that harmonics has helped my voice to expand and move freely among the different keys as much as possible. Voice is the mirror of the life force!

Do you believe specific notes are associated with the Chakras?

Yes. But I found they differ a bit from person to person. But of course they range from low to higher and the other way around.

How can one purchase your recordings?

Spotify on my name: Marie Bergman.  But I haven’t yet recorded my toning with the singing bowls.  Maybe sooner than later hopefully…

We hope sooner, Marie!

As part of our Guest Series, I’m delighted to share my conversation with Rona C, a psychiatrist from Feasterville, PA and a recent customer of Bodhisattva.  She was kind enough to discuss how she uses a Tibetan singing bowl in her work.

Tell us about your practice.

I am an outpatient psychiatrist in private practice in Feasterville, PA. I graduated from Duke Medical School in North Carolina and did my residency at Hahnemann University in Philadelphia PA.  I am board certified in psychiatry with added certification in geriatric psychiatry.  I have been in private practice for 24 years and see many patients suffering with anxiety and depression.

Do you think there has been an increase in the amount of cases you’re seeing for these disorders?

There seems to be an increase in the number of people suffering from these disorders. I believe this is partly due to the increasing stress and distortion in our world. Technology, which is so rapidly evolving, and while offering so many benefits has contributed greatly to this stress. Our daily lives and the expectations placed on us are straining our biology which has taken millenia to evolve.  Our bodies evolved in synchrony with the rhythms of nature, the yearly, seasonal, and circadian to name a few. Technology has made honoring these rhythms more irrelevant to our lives. This puts a strain on our bodies, minds and spirits and diseases such as depression and anxiety are triggered.

Humans evolved as social animals who  are influenced by and benefit from human contact on a physical and chemical (ie pheromone) level.  For instance, it is well documented that women living in close quarters become synchronized in their menstrual cycles.  We are deprived of this with the increase of long distance and virtual interactions.  It has been stated that thoughts and emotions have electromagnetic properties which can not be communicated as completely with this type of interaction. This attenuation in the intensity of the biological and electromagnetic communication contribute to a loss of grounding, a disconnection, a sense of isolation all which contribute to the rise of depression and anxiety.

It has been stated that abnormal reactions are normal in abnormal circumstances so perhaps this epidemic of anxiety and depression is in fact  a normal result of the present world.

How are you using the bowl in your practice?

The bowls have a calming soothing effect on my patients. Their beautiful song seems to resonate with and calm the nervous system in a sweet, non intrusive and nonthreatening way.  This morning I saw a woman with dental pain radiating to her face and neck.  When I played the bowl for her, she said that  it seemed to quiet the nerves.  People who are so anxious that even relaxation techniques escalate their stress can experience relief with the bowl.

Do you think this is a result of brainwave entrainment, or are there other factors?

Modern physics is teaches us that all matter in our bodies is composed of vibrating waves. I believe that the singing bowl helps to entrain the vibrations into a cohesive concordant as opposed to discordant pattern. I believe the brainwaves are also entrained and this then further enhances the entrainment of the rest of the body.

How do you use the bowl in a session?

I am still learning about the many ways to use the bowl in a therapeutic manner. I will never use it without first asking the patient’s permission. I’ll tell a patient “I’d like to play this bowl for you, I think it’s going to be very calming.  So sit back, try to relax, close your eyes and let it envelop you.” I instruct them to tell me if they need me to stop playing the bowl at any point. That has not happened yet though.  I also play the bowl between sessions to refuel and relax.

And what reactions are you getting?

People generally become more relaxed, sometimes they tap in to deep emotions. I played it for someone who was telling me about her 16 year old dog who was dying.  I played while she was talking, it seemed to help her connect more powerfully with the deep wells of emotion in her heart.

Do you feel that there is a potential for a lasting effect?

I do. The two minutes that I am able to play for my patients in my current practice format produces a temporary reprieve.  It’s like changing the channel from stress to contentment. But I feel a paradigm in which I have a set of healing bowls which could be played for a prolonged period could cause lasting healing.

Do you sense a potential for vibrational therapy to be used as an adjunct therapy in a clinical setting?  Would you consider prescribing a patient vibrational therapy as opposed to medication in certain circumstances?

I do feel there is great potential for adjunct use of vibrational therapy in a clinical setting and I hope to incorporate this into my own practice.  For certain patients such as those who cannot tolerate, have had a poor response to or prefer a holistic approach to that of a pharmaceutical approach, vibrational therapy is an intriguing alternative.

Jimi Hendrix performing at Monterey Pop FestivalIf you lived through the 60’s, the term “Wah-Wah” conjures memories of Jimi Hendrix’s Voodoo Child, or the theme from the 70’s movie Shaft, but probably not an image of a Tibetan Singing Bowl.  While all singing bowls naturally produce oscillating frequencies, the Hand Wah-Wah is added oscillation capability in certain, specially constructed singing bowls which can be manipulated to modulate its sound waves by gently squeezing the base of the bowl with the holding hand.

The first bowl that actually “spoke” to me – that clearly communicated (as if it were speaking English) that it was my bowl – was a Hand Wah-Wah bowl.  It was awkward.  Our bed & breakfast suite was open for a trunk show in Sedona, Arizona, and a couple of ladies were hovering over a kitchen table crammed with bowls.  I struck one bowl randomly (ha!) out of the crowd, and immediately heard the “bend” in the struck tone.  I’d never heard anything like that and I wanted to hear more!  But I didn’t want to draw my customer’s attention to it, cause I was afraid they’d notice how cool it was.  So I waited til they picked up another bowl and when they were completely focused on it, I snatched my bowl and stowed it under the table!  It was love at first sound:  that bowl sat by my altar for the next 11 years.  I spent hours losing myself in its kaleidoscopic harmonies.

How is the Hand Wah-Wah different from the other modulations that singing bowls make?  When heard binaurally, singing bowls naturally produce beat frequencies that sound like an oscillation of the bowls’ harmonics.  All singing bowls produce these beats: they are the bowl’s pulse which kinetically entrains our brainwaves and calm the mind for meditation.  They’ve worked this way for thousands of years. Often, two separate pulses can be perceived: usually a slower pulse in the fundamental tone and a faster one in the female overtone.  But this is not the “wah-wah” effect; these oscillations are  just “standard equipment” in a singing bowl.

Hand Wah-Wah bowls are different.  In 16 years I’ve been working with singing bowls, I honestly have no idea what is different about their physical structure that enables us to produce these modulations.  I’ve studied the bases of these bowls.  They are both thick and thin; their bases are rounded as well as flat; I have found no physical common denominator between them.  All I know is that Hand Wah-Wah bowls are rare; usually only a handful of bowls in any collection will have that capability. They look like ordinary, Thadobati style, antique singing bowls.

So to get the effect, you first need to know your bowl has a Hand Wah-Wah capability.  We will usually notate this capability in our description of our singing bowls; they turn up most often on the Medium bowl section in our Singing Bowl Galleries.  Wherever you find it, once you know you have one, here’s how you get the technique:

1)  Start by looking at the position of the bowl on your holding hand.  It should be positioned so that just your fingertips are slightly extended beyond the base of the bowl.  In most instances, you want to avoid wrapping your fingertips around the curve in the bowl’s base, as that can dampen a bowl’s sound.  However, with this technique, slightly wrapping your fingertips around the bowl’s base can sometimes enhance the Wah-Wah effect.

2) Strike your bowl with the covered end of your mallet.  Whether it’s covered with leather or wool doesn’t really doesn’t matter, but bear in mind that the suede mallet will emphasize the mid and female overtones in a bowl, and those are the tones that lend themselves  to the Hand Wah-wah effect the best.

3) Once struck, very gently squeeze the base of the bowl with your holding hand.  It’s important to note that you are contracting your hand with every squeeze and as you do, a space opens up between your hand and the base of the bowl.  This is where the sound is being modulated.  On some bowls, the hand wah-wah is positional:  they will have a “sweet spot” where it jumps out at you.  So if you don’t find the wah-wah at first, rotate the bowl around until you find it.  Another technique that works is to rock the bowl from your fingertips to the heel of your hand.

You can also see videos on You Tube of people making a “wah-wah” sound by modulating the bowl’s sound waves with the aperture of their mouths.  Except for certain really dense and thick singing bowls, almost any singing bowl will respond to this technique.  Strike your bowl and place your mouth about an inch away from the upper wall near the rim.  Then, purse your lips in a fish-like motion. You don’t have to vocalize at all, just play with shaping the sound waves in your mouth by the dilating aperture of your lips.  This too is positional:  if you don’t hear anything at  first, rotate the bowl around until you find its “sweet spot”.   The richer the harmonics of the bowl, the more bend you can get out of the wah-wah.  The larger and more sloped the bowl’s wall,  the tones there you can isolate and bend.  What’s great is to actually “taste” the tingly sensation of the sound waves in your mouth – delicious!

To see a quick video demo on both techniques, please check the video page on our Website.  Have fun!

Ngor Abbot Sanggye Senge (detail); Tibet; 17th century; Pigments on cloth; Rubin Museum of Art

Whenever I’m in New York City, I make a pilgrimage to the Rubin Museum.  Housed in the old Barney’s Building on Sixth Avenue and 17th Street, I love to sit in its Cafe, eat vegetarian MoMo’s and think to myself “this used to be the hosiery department.  This is where I used to buy my hose.”

More hours still, I’ve spent wandering its Galleries, gazing at the Bodhisattvas, permeating myself with their teachings.  In one trip a few years ago, I was going through the Rubin’s Online Resources gallery and was so moved by a passage I found, I scribbled it down with the paper and pencils they had for put out for children’s art projects.  I came across it last night, and thought I’d share it with you:

In the practice of tolerance, one’s enemy is the best teacher.

Buddhists believe that clinging to a sense of self is the fundamental cause of suffering.  The antidote to that suffering is compassion for others.  Compassion in action is having the desire to relieve them of suffering.

Impermanence is commonly associated with the negative, or death, the end of a lucky streak, or the termination of a relationship.  But this is a limited view that does not account for the necessity of impermanence and the positive beginnings that arise from endings.  Impermanence can be good news. The end of infancy is childhood, the end of war is peace, the end of loneliness is companionship.  Without the end of day we would have no sunset, no moon, no stars.

Thich Nhat Hanh playing a Japanese rin gong

As Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh has reminded us, impermanence is “an instrument to help us penetrate deeply into reality and obtain liberating insight.  With impermanence, every door is open for change.”  When we can let go and embrace the unknown, fear subsides.

Again, it is Thich Nhat Hanh who has said it best: “It is possible to find ease and grace in the world of change; it is possible to trust the mind of non-clinging and so find our liberation within the world of impermanence.”  As we see impermanence clearly, we see that there is nothing real that we can actually cling to.

Many of our good customers at Bodhisattva are destined to share their singing bowls with their communities.  But few have put more research and energy into immortalizing these vessels of peace than our customer who is simply known as Hans.  A lanky, razor sharp Californian, Hans amassed a world class collection of singing bowls in quartertone tuning (close to Solfeggio) in a breathless year and a half, over the course of maybe four or five collections.  Then he recorded.  33 Bowls, in our opinion, picks up where One Hand Clapping, the first digital recording of Tibetan Bowls and nature sounds, left off.  That torch has been passed.  Thank you, Hans, for lighting up the world with it.

If anything, 33 Bowls is a confluence of ancient bronze technologies and – as of today – state of the art high resolution recording technology.  Tell us about your technical and artistic background that brought these technologies together. 

I am in awe of the masters of constructed/studio soundscape, Thomas Dolby, the late Hector Zazou, Allan Parsons of Pink Floyd, Delerium, Michael Brook, to name a few; and yet the challenge of creating, capturing, or really facilitating a natural soundscape — antique musical instruments in a live acoustic space — is/was what intrigued me.

When younger, I hung out more with nerds and musicians than with motorheads or jocks, and somehow managed to avoid serious hearing damage. Nuance and subtlety in music and sound have always been fascinating to me, and have been an attraction as to how we hear, and how to reproduce or re-create the experience in recordings.

I have both a technical and Artistic background, and firmly believe in integrating both hemispheres. I think I innately understood electronics before I could speak! For many years I was with Laserium, combining visuals of bright clear laser light with music in Planetarium domes, and facilitated thousands of mind expanding trips without partaking in any hallucinogens. Later, I was part of an analog chip design group, and left the words “Don’t Panic” from Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy in micron sized letters on a chip that is part of the Internet backbone.

What is ongaku?

There is a word used in audiophile circles: “ongaku” which means soul or essence of sound and music. That also describes the presence of live un-amplified music in a good acoustic space that is felt as much as it is heard. Most recordings and systems fall short, one can easily hear from the next room if it is live or reproduced, regardless of what a famous tape company claimed in ’70s and ’80s ad campaigns.

What attracted you to the bowls initially?  And what inspired you to record them?

While studying massage with the many hours of practice, I put together some remixes for massage music that were popular with fellow practitioners and recipients, but the complexity and cost of multiple copyrights prohibited general release. The call for something more fluid, natural, timeless, ethereal, and original was sparked. So, 33 Bowls started out as a couple of questions: “what if” and “wouldn’t it be nice to” in the context of Singing Bowls. It is also a story which does not have a place in the realm of strict left brained linear planning: it was a mind blowing experience of serendipity or synchronicity to piece together a set of pitch matched antique metal Singing Bowls in a relatively short period of time once the intention was set and released or let go of if I may end a sentence with a preposition. The pitch is not western A440, it turns out to be closely aligned to an older scale which is harmonically related to terrestrial and cosmic cycles, that is referred to (and unfortunately hyped) as the Solfeggio Scale, but the ratios are harmonious to western ears. It is my contention that as we, through our ancestors, have heard these sounds for centuries, and there is something innately familiar, even sacred, about the sound of antique musical instruments tuned to this scale.

What attracted you to the antique singing bowls, as opposed to Crystal bowls?

Although the more modern crystal or glass Singing Bowls can sound quite nice, particularly when accompanied by female voice, and are easier to record as they are considerably louder, the resonances are less complex. It is also arguable whether they are truly crystalline, as they are crafted as a spun amorphous slurry at high temperatures which gives them their close to perfect radial symmetry. Ironically it is the slight imperfections in metal Singing Bowls that add the complex harmonics and sub harmonic beats. Take that as a metaphor about perfect imperfection. Antique metal Singing Bowls in particular can have a rich, sonorous, smooth sound quality. But the complex harmonies and particularly sub-harmonic beats that both match and induce deep, meditative states in the brain, mind, heart, and gut are what appealed to me.

Why 33 Bowls?

I was playing live for a thanksgiving day yoga class, and the Yogi, counting the class attendees noticed there were 33 students there, and that there were 33 Singing Bowls. So the name became obvious.

Tell us about the Artwork.

The cover Artwork is from a painting in a private collection by a relatively obscure, modest, and very talented Artist. I wanted something that looked like the music of 33 Bowls feels, and this painting matched in a way that was instantly “it”. This is what the Artist had to say about the music that her painting matches: “It connects me back to something, an older language of sound that just resonates in a way that doesn’t even have words. Feels like I’m joining an ancestry, it doesn’t feel like my emotion…something that’s been dormant, becomes enlivened.” I specifically do not put my name or image on/in the album cover Artwork or liner notes, as it is about the music and not the musician, and certainly not about the musician’s ego.

The bowls are notoriously difficult to record. Tell us in general terms your approach to engineering the recordings.  Were all the bowls recorded live?

Technology: I started off with the proverbial blank sheet of paper. There is no single facet or piece of equipment in the recording chain that makes the recordings sound the way they do. There is a gestalt or synergy of everything involved. None of it is “off the shelf”; all is either modified, custom, or built from scratch. The intention was/is to capture as much of the nuance as possible early on in the signal path. Once that is lost, it is “gone forever” and no amount of studio trickery can re-constitute the aliveness of the real thing. Particular attention was/is paid to minimizing time smear in each facet or component and the implementation of that component. There are a few unavoidable background noises of a live event, but it is close to what one would hear if relaxing in a room hearing the Singing Bowls live, with full ambience and presence. It is not a studio piece by piece creation, so the continuity of the live experience is there. On a reference system, 33 Bowls is the only recording of Singing Bowls that I am aware of that has consistently fooled a variety of listeners into thinking there was a live performance of Singing Bowls in the next room. The CD and high resolution 24 bit downloads provide the highest level of fidelity, but mp3 and iTunes versions sound surprisingly good, again as the recording started out early on with full nuance and resolution.

How do the bowls affect us? How does brainwave entrainment expand our consciousness? Tell us about your work with using bowls as bio feedback instruments.

I believe there is a poignant need for awakening, coherence, articulation, integration of complexity; and hope that music such as 33 Bowls contributes to that. Although statements like that do sound rather abstract, such phenomena provide an archetypal underpinning for “concrete” embodied experiences. They are not a luxury, they are essential for not only our survival, but our “thrival” as a species on this emerald earth. I also believe it is important for us to re-discover our innate embodied, yet environmentally interconnected wisdom and how it ties in with the flow of a bigger picture; whether we call it intuition or hunches, or listening to the heart, or splenic/sacral/plexus knowing.

There is a phrase that is popular to the point of being a cliche, but does have meaning: “holding the space”. Much, maybe most music is about communicating a message of sorts, usually emotional. 33 Bowls does not do that, it holds the space to facilitate and enhance whatever is present. What it is doing is providing a coherent, yet complex natural “signal” for the ears/brain/mind to entrain to and “drop” into a more relaxed, lower stress state of being. Our ears are not passive; they are active participants in sound, interacting with the environment in a way which leads to brain/mind entrainment with what we hear, whether it is shamanic drums, Singing Bowls, cacophonic city noise, or the breath and heartbeat of someone close to us.

Here’s something to try: while listening to Singing Bowls live or via a high resolution recording, notice the embodied sensation, physically, inside your ears. It may be subtle or it may be obvious, but there will be a sensation of the area inside your ears pulsing, or moving to the sub-harmonic beats. You may even notice background sounds modulating or phasing in and out inversely. That is the mechanism of brain/mind entrainment as your ears phase lock and entrain to sounds. Once you get it, Singing Bowls and possibly other sounds may never be quite the same again.

This is likely an evolutionary throwback of our physical ancestors by which our ears have an expanded dynamic range for greater sensitivity: predator and prey developed and favored an adaptive hearing ability while listening for each other in the context of background sounds; those that were more successful passed the epigenetics to future generations.

It is possible, even probable that temple meditation in ancient times was more than enhanced by the sounds of Singing Bowls through entrainment. Once one has consciously experienced a particular state, even if induced externally, it is possible to achieve it individually sans stimulation. The practice of Mindsight and the modern field of Interpersonal Neurobiology is confirming such a hypothesis. Compassion and empathy do naturally occur with expanded external and internal focus and concurrent integration.

I have heard from numerous healing practitioners of various modalities that their clients love 33 Bowls as background music, that it enhances the healing process. I do hold a special place in my heart for those who endeavor to make the world a better place one body/psyche at a time.

Your dedication to the artisans who made the bowls I found very moving.  Do you get a sense of the bowls’ history?   Do you get a sense of timelessness?  Do you get a sense of their future? 

Very much I get the perspective of standing on the shoulders of giants, the Artisans who crafted these Singing Bowls centuries ago; their focus, intention, timeless expression of beauty and beauty in expression. Hence the dedication of gratitude to them is included in the cover Artwork. Looking to the future, unless we figure out teleromes, the collection of Singing Bowls will likely outlast me as they have with their original Artisans. One benefit of the pandora’s box of modern technology is that many more can enjoy and benefit from the sounds of Singing Bowls, particularly if they are well recorded as described above.

How many downloads of 33 Bowls have you gotten so far? What other singing bowl projects are in the works?

Actually, with “just” word of mouth and zero advertising budget, 33 Bowls has been in the Amazon New Age downloads top ten for the past year. They seem to have a mind of their own! Sequels will be released when there is genuinely something worthwhile to say. I can say that the next release will segue with the end of “morning” to make a seamless extended session of 33 Bowls. Plus, maybe, something specifically for headphones. We shall see. For announcements, check back here or visit 33bowls.com.

Last Summer, I posted a video on Facebook aired by the BBC entitled  “On How Tibetan Singing Bowls Are Making Waves in Physics”. The following guest blog includes ensuing comments by Dr. Jeffrey Thompson, D.C., B.F.A C.N.S.T./ Diplomate.  Dr. Thompson is a foremost leader in scientific research using sound therapy for altering brainwave states for mental, physical and emotional healing.  Steve Sklar, a musician and sound healer joined in as the thread of conversation meandered from physics of singing bowls’ waveforms to their metallurgy.  A debate ensued on the subject of the Oxford metallurgical analysis of singing bowls commissioned by Himalayan Bowls that reported the bowls were made of an alloy almost exclusively of copper and tin.  I quoted an earlier analysis done by  Concordia University in Quebec that may have resulted in the famous “7 Metals” alloy, which included gold and Mercury.  Sorry, folks, I’m just getting around to posting the paper now.  Enjoy!

Say something about this…


Scientists have finally turned their attention to a musical instrument that has been around for millennia.
  • Aedan Kelly and Steve Sklar like this.
    • Jeffrey ThompsonNice one…..scientists eventually get around to discovering what the sages have known for millennia…

      July 2 at 12:52pm · Unlike · 2 people
    • I demonstrate these effects in my Sound Healing workshops (without the slo-mo video, of course). But I usually prefer to use larger bowls for a better effect/view. You can vary the amount of water to get either wave patterns and/or fountain effects.

      July 2 at 12:52pm · Unlike · 1 person
    • I do think, however, that common historical notion, “mainly used for ceremonial purposes” tends to be an overstatement.

      July 2 at 1:12pm · Like
    • I also do this same demonstration with water in the bowls….the big crystal bowls work bets as a demo because of their large diameter. Another cool demo is to lay a nice big speaker on its back and fill the cone of the speaker with water and play sounds and music through it.

      July 2 at 2:15pm · Unlike · 1 person
    • Jeffrey: I’d expect the glass bowls to act somewhat differently, as they’re usually much louder with less harmonics. No?

      July 2 at 3:28pm · Like
    • correct…its a good demo of sound becoming visible because of the clear resonant patterns in the water, each metal bowl shows a much more complex wave form since Tibetan Bowls have multiple frequencies…monophonic binaural beats.

      July 2 at 3:38pm · Unlike · 1 person
    • Yeah, it’s strange when some glass bowl enthusiasts/dealers go on about the “wondrous harmonics” they produce. Not that many “Tibetan” bowl proponents don’t make false claims, too. Sigh…

      July 2 at 3:40pm · Like
    • Jeffrey Thompson

      Ive done extensive spectral analysis studies of Tibetan Bowls, you can clearly see from two to 4 peak frequencies per bowl…all within the critical bandwidth of one another. Definitely creating a brain entrainment pulse pattern per bowl. Since the interactions of different diameters of the bowl’s shape equal binaural beats, but these beats are not from two separate sources, but contained within the structure of a single bowl, I have named this “Monophonic Binaural Beats”. By the way, whenever I think I’ve discovered some new, cool, 21 century, futuristic application of sound for healing or changing consciousness, I usually find that the Tibetans did it first a few thousand years ago……
      July 2 at 3:45pm · Like · 1 person
    • Steve Sklar

      Re: the binaural aspect, seems more accurately stereo to me, especially when the bowls are placed in front of one’s face; very different than when played lower down, on a table, floor, etc.Esp. interesting to me are the recent metallurgical analyses of singing bowls…

      July 2 at 4:11pm · Like · 1 person
    • Jeffrey Thompson

      Between 1970-1977 I owned a company that involved alloying and smelting metals, mold making and casting. I was heavily involved in the mixing of custom alloys of bronze, brass, and pewter. It has been pretty obvious to me that most Tibetan Bowls are a custom alloy of “Bell Bronze” which is a certain mix of mostly Copper and lesser % of Tin. Brass, btw, is Copper and Zinc. It would be a very difficult proposition for early metalsmiths to include high melting point metals like nickle and especially a very high melt point metal like iron. Most Bowls are an alloy of Copper and tin. I think it is a myth that some ancient bowls were made of meteorite material, since most meteorites are iron and some iron / nickel.
      Jeffrey Thompson (Quoting Himalayan Bowls’ article)
    • “Scientists at the University of Oxford studied a group of antique singing bowls from Himalayan Bowls during 2010. Archaeological Metallurgists from the renowned university’s Department of Materials have confirmed Himalayan Bowls’ own metallurgical analysis and dating assessment of antique singing bowls. Dr. Peter Northrup and his team examined a group of antique bronze bowls from 16th – 19th century, including one bowl that could be much older…
    • “Singing bowls are made from a high-tin bronze alloy. This special alloy is made from 77-78% copper, 22-23% tin. This type of metal is known as “bell metal bronze” and is found in most of the world’s best bells, gongs and cymbals. The high tin content is partly responsible for the beautiful tone produced by singing bowls. Very little variation in the alloy has been found in more than 100 singing bowls tested by Himalayan Bowls…
      “According to the scientists at Oxford, the high tin content makes the bowls less likely to crack during manufacturing. They were impressed by the craftsmanship. Himalayan Bowls’ research found a few singing bowls containing less than 2% iron. Other than these exceptions, all antique singing bowls tested contain only copper and tin…
    • “The pure bronze alloy used in singing bowls shows real mastery and knowledge of the material. The hand hammering annealing technique used to make singing bowls goes back 4,000 years. Singing bowls are a last remnant of an ancient metal working tradition. Bronze bowls have been made in the Himalayas for centuries – perhaps for 1,000 years. The new handmade singing bowls offered by Himalayan Bowls are made of the same high quality bronze as the fine antiques…
    • “It is remarkable to think that our singing bowls are part of one of the world’s oldest crafts and that the materials and techniques have remained unchanged for thousands of years.”
    • Naga Shakti

      Wow I actually was off Facebook all day and I come back to find this. Thanks for the cool thread, Jeffrey.  Actually the British Museum posted a different alloy composition of Tibetan bell metal that was much more varied – I’ll try to scan it & post it. Joseph told me about the analysis he did. I find it hard to believe that there was so little variance in the alloy content, considering that the bowls were made over such a broad geographic span and over such a long period of time. It makes sense to me that the ancient metal smiths utilized the raw materials available to them; and it makes sense to me also that the metal smiths varied their alloys according to the density of the metal bowl they wanted to produce, which would affect the harmonics produced.
      July 2 at 9:32pm · Like · 1 person
    • Have you seen the metallurgical analysis of the bowls done by Concordia University in Quebec?  That’s the one where the whole “7 Metals” thing came from apparently. I’ll try to put my hands on that one and post it as well just for fun!

      July 2 at 9:34pm · Like
    • Jeffrey ThompsonI would really like to see that one.
      July 2 at 10:58pm · Like
    • Jeffrey Thompson

      I think part of the reason that the bowls alloy has been so generally consistent over time is the availability of copper and tin (and zinc for brass) and also because they all have a similar melting point that can be achieved without extraordinary measures for blast furnaces, etc. The monophonic binaural beats in the bowls is a function of the bulging shape of each bowl and is unique and the harmonics are partially a property of this and a property of the alloy itself. Minor shifts of % of copper to tin can make a very large difference in quality of tone, harmonics and brilliance. Also the sophistication of the purity of the molten metal and skimming of dross techniques applied. There is a real art to alloy making, mold making and casting of metals. I always felt like an alchemist when I was doing it myself….
      July 2 at 11:04pm · Unlike · 1 person
      Here it is, Jeff.  Sorry for the delay…
      Regarding The British Museum Study we have referenced by W.Z. Oddy and W. Zalf  (Occasional Paper no. 15, 1981), that will be the subject of another edition. Anyone with any other info on any other analyses published, I’d be happy to include them in future editions.
    • For those of you who interested in knowing what Dr. Thompson means monophonic binaural beats, that blog will be in the works as well.

One of my goals of the Secret Lives of Singing Bowls is to show the many ways in which singing bowls are integrated into cultures all over the planet in the form of healing modalities, music, and meditation tools. There is no better resource for this focus than through the prism of our customers. This is the first in a series of interviews and guest blogs from healers, masters, musicians, Shamans, teachers and energy workers that use Bodhisattva singing bowls in their transformational work.

Dao Zhen, Of Tao Yoga, Japan

In early March 2011, we heard a Skype request for singing bowls from our beloved second generation customer – Dao Zhen, founder of Tao Yoga in the Kanagawa Prefecture of Japan. Before we were able to fill his order, the March 11 Tohuku Earthquake and Tsunami interceded.  About a week later, we finally reached him on Skype to check in with him and his partner Yuko and were relieved to find him well. But our Skype conversation went like this:

“Wow I’m so relieved to hear you guys are OK!”

“We’re OK, but we just heard a building blew up.”

And so began the Fukushima Nuclear reactor crisis.  Over the next few days, I kept an eye on the news as events started to spiral out of control and a major reactor leak and nuclear fallout was reported.  My last Skype to Dao Zhen went unanswered:

“Could you guys get out if you wanted to?”

The following guest blog is Dao Zhen’s answer.  It is both a moving account of the series of disasters to hit Japan and the aftermath; as well as  testimony how his meditation discipline enabled him to stay centered in an environment of catastrophe and fear.  Dao Zhen didn’t get out; but stayed on to embrace his role as a healing force in his community.


The Tao of Acceptance

Dao Zhen




The Great Way shines in our heart;

with wisdom we may understand its nature.

Comprehending the diverse keys of the profound and glorious Tao,

we are as buddhas and will come to know the abode of the immortals.


Without words,

we understand no-mind;

without shape,

we understand true nature.

With relaxed mind,

we grasp the meaning of Tao;

with the boundless Way, we understand truth.

~The Book of the Heart: Embracing the Tao



Where were you on Friday, March 11th at 2:46pm?  If you were in Japan, this is a moment you will remember for the rest of your life…

So much change has taken place here in Japan, and so much growth is slowly taking place to rebuild.

Today, I came home and changed trains in Yokohama, it was so surprising, as many small shops that are usually busy had closed early.  A sight I had viewed for years had suddenly changed.  A place that was usually busy and active with shops, was closed, and silent.

People move forward with their lives, yet there is an underlying feeling of worry or uncertainty I can observe in the people.  Yet there is also a very positive change happening in the consciousness of many.

I contemplate these days, how much psychological damage has been done by the constant influence of the media.  I think it is important to be aware of how much negative influence we gain from ‘bad’ news, and limit this influence, and instead create ‘good news’, and also ‘good images’ internally for ourselves.

We may find words used in the media in Japan such as:







And so on…….

Yet what do these words really mean, in a scientific light, and what are the reactions those of us with no scientific understanding will suffer when reading such words with accompanying images of smoke, and destroyed buildings….


The powerful force of the media has caused a HUGE exodus of foreign people fleeing Japan.  Many Japanese themselves fled their homes during the first days after the earthquake, not feeling safe in the areas they reside in.

When the first of many earthquakes struck, I was having lunch in my home in Gokurakuji, Kamakura.

The whole house began shaking, and it seemed the intensity just kept increasing.  A very large force and energy was being issued from the earth.  As we made our way to the street, the earth transformed into something akin to water, and a wavelike flow emerged.  To be honest, it was amazing, and so fascinating to me to be able to experience this raw force and power of the earth in motion.

Yet, the earthquakes never quite stopped, and aftershocks are still continuing.

There has been a huge exodus of foreigners from Japan.  During the first week after the earthquake, we bumped into many foreigners daily with backpacks and suitcases who are fleeing Japan, and leaving everything behind.  There was a lot of fear, uncertainty and worry.

A huge tsunami washed over Miyagi prefecture, and entire neighborhoods were simply washed away by giant walls of water. Rice fields were ruined, and many lost their lives. This may very well turn into one of the most devastating natural disasters the world has seen.

And yes, I have not mentioned anything about the ‘Nuclear Disaster’ in Fukushima.

Let us just pause for a moment from all the sensational media coverage.

As of this moment, well over 10,000 are known to be dead  – all in relation to the Tsunami and the Earthquake disaster.

No one has died yet from the nuclear power plant accident and malfunction.

I am one to support natural living in harmony with nature, and would like to have more solar power, geo-thermal power, and other natural sources of energy, rather than nuclear.

Yet this is a situation that is being used to create sensational media, and create fear and panic in many.  I wish the focus would be on the huge number of people who are currently homeless and without proper food, shelter and water – due to the tsunami and earthquake.  Let us all let go of fear and worry, and send our prayers and positive healing energy to those suffering from being uprooted from their land and homes.

This experience has been a great journey, and I have had wonderful self growth during this time in Japan.

Bamboo forest at DaiTokuji temple

I awoke a few days after the earthquake, and when the problem with the nuclear plant had begun, had a strong intention to leave my home and journey south.  The journey was amazing, and we synchronistically met many along the way who assisted in our journey.

We stayed in the wonderful DaiTokuji temple complex area of Kyoto, sleeping in the second floor of an old wooden house surrounded by bamboo, and the walls were made of glass. When the sun rises, birds alight in the branches of the bamboo, and sing pleasant songs.

Taking strolls among the temple complex, meditating in pristine bamboo gardens.  Yet even in all of this beauty, there was a fear of the unknown….

Is it safe…?

Will we be poisoned from leaked radiation….?

Will there be a larger earthquake…?

Life is uncertain.

Yet how we respond to times of uncertainty are an example of our true nature and spirit.

Let us all pray for the people of Japan in this time of great disaster….

Let us join together as a world community and use this event to gain a higher consciousness to support our fellow humans in their time of need….

Garden Buddha

One merciful thought on behalf of another brings harmony.

A kind and goodly nature brings us to the Way.

True attainment is dependent on our actions:

Talk without good deeds is a waste of time…


Cultivating goodness in the heart,

we are rewarded in kind with goodness vast as green meadows.

Since ancient times, among all peoples

Virtue has embodied the Way…


With birdsong and fragrance of blossoms the sun rises;

above the eastern gate, a flawless azure sky.

Attaining the Way we are like the sun

dawning with roseate fire….


~The Book of the Heart, Embracing the Tao




There is a force that empowers the movements of the sun, moon and stars….

A force that is behind the cycle of the changing of the seasons…

A force that governs the birth, growth and decline of all living things…

This Universal Life Force is the key to the functioning of all things as observed by the ancient Tao Masters in the sacred mountains of China. These Tao Masters deeply studied this Life Force, its patterns as expressed in nature, the universe, and also its patterns of development and growth within the human being.

When one has an abundant reserve of Life Force Energy within their system, and this energy has a smooth flow, one experiences great happiness, health and a great feeling of life vigor.

When one has a low source of energy within their system, they will experience fatigue, sickness, negative emotions, stiffness and pain.   A proper reserve of energy is truly the key to a long healthy and happy life.

Energy is frequency…

Energy is vibration….

Energy manifests as sound…..

The Magical Singing Bowls help us to re-harmonize our energy systems, and bring us balance, healing and inner peace.

Sound healing concert

Thinking in this light, our Tao Yoga group gathered together in Yokohama Chinatown, and practiced Tao Yoga, and I gave a Sound Healing concert with our  Tibetan Singing Bowls, we all prayed together for the many lives that have been lost, and made a conscious promise to maintain our positive spirit in this trying time we find ourselves in here in Japan.

The sounds soared, our energy raised, our spirits aligned in a positive light, and we joined together in prayer.

The following Sunday, we held a wonderful Tao Yoga class in Kamakura.  the sun was shining, the leaves and flowers are beginning to bud, and new life is making its way forward.

A former student from 3 years ago suddenly returned to our class.  After the other students had left, she came up and we talked for some time.  I could tell she was holding back fear, anxiety and worry; forcing a smile.   She relaxed, and told me how much of a shock the earthquake had been for her, and now she also felt much fear about ‘radiation’ in the air.  She confessed that she felt she can no longer trust the earth, and felt she can only now direct fear for the earth.  She was about to cry, and she looked into my eyes and asked,

“Jesse-teacher, is everything going to be ok?”

I smiled, and held her shoulders, and told her, “Yes, of course everything will be fine.  Look at the sky, the clouds passing by, the trees standing tall and proud.  All is perfect, and as it should be.  Enjoy this moment we are in now, and let us be thankful for all we have now.”

She smiled, and began to deeply cry, and released a big sigh from deep within; letting go of so much emotion and tension she had been holding due to the stress and trauma of the earthquake we all experienced.

How do we deal with all this fear, trauma and stress?

For me, I feel very lucky to have been given wisdom and techniques from the Traditions of Taoism and Buddhism; and when I am mindful enough to see that I am under the influence of fear, trauma and stress, I am able to apply techniques such as using the breath, and meditative movement arts to transform, and free myself from this influence, and enter into the Positive Inner Harmony State.

Tao Yoga Facebook Photo

Return to your breath…..

Embrace your breath….

Balance your breath….

The breath can hold the key to gaining inner balance, release of negative emotional states, and reuniting with our center.

During this time in Japan, there are many amazing stories and people are coming together and expressing a positive and brave state of heart in these trying times; the country is working together to rebuild externally, and also to regain the inner state of a Positive Heart.

Here is one amazing story I have seen that has inspired me:

~Hideaki Akaiwa, was startled at work by the now infamous earthquake and tsunami that shook and overtook Japan on March 11, Akaiwa rushed to high ground and immediately called his wife of two decades. When she didn’t answer, Akaiwa ignored friends’ pleas to wait for a military rescue, instead rummaging up some scuba gear and diving into the dark, cold, debris-filled tsunami. Hundreds of yards of swimming later, Akaiwa found his wife struggling against the 10-foot current that had overtaken the couple’s Ishinomaki home.  He later went on another scuba diving journey through the dangerous and dark waters to rescue his elderly mother who was trapped and alone on a roof top surrounded by water.

I spoke with my spiritual friend  the other day, who is a Zen Priest, and a teacher of meditation, about all that is taking place in Japan.  He said this is a unique and special time for all of us living here.  He spoke on how often times we read books and scripture to gain spiritual learning, but such learning is of course limited.  He went on to speak that NOW, we are able to learn spiritual lessons in a direct way, due to this intense experience we all share here in Japan.

This is real spiritual learning.

Let us all pray for Japan, and let us as a world community come together.  Let us shed the barriers of race, country and religion.

For in the end, we all wish for the same things.

We all wish for Peace, Happiness & Harmony…

Let us all come together,

Let us all be a world family,

Let us create Peace on Earth….

Tao Yoga Facebook Photo

Like muddy water our hearts await cleansing;

turbid or clear, its nature is of our choosing.

Black or white, right or wrong – 

these things come from the heart and its training:

Destiny is shadowed by the color of our intentions.


With prayers and a calm mind,

the Way can be understood and attained:

The roots of wisdom are heavenly endowed,

With Tao implanted in our heart,

we ourselves may become buddhas.


Empty your heart.

Sit quietly on a mat.

In meditation we become one with All;

Tao billows like the vapors in a mountain valley,

and its supernatural power wafts into our soul.


~ The Book of the Heart – Embracing the Tao 



Tao Yoga – Kamakura




TaoYoga Jesse

Friend TaoYoga Jesse on Facebook



Every singing bowl sound sample recorded on our web site has been played with the following variety of mallets.  Singing bowls can sound completely different whether they are struck with wool, leather or wood; and you can isolate completely different tones depending upon the mallet and the playing technique you use.

Rain likes to reminisce about when he first noticed singing bowls in Kathmandu in the late 70’s, the Nepalese played them with Roti sticks!  Being a drummer and tuned to the nuances of percussion, the harshness of the wood struck against metal was jarring to him – far from being soothing!  Plain wood striking the metal also had the effect of sharply kicking up the female overtone, and hence burying the deeper, more subtle sound of the fundamental  tone.


So he developed a prototype of a wooden mallet, semi-padded with monk’s wool, to soften the struck sound of a singing bowl.  A Bodhisattva basic, the padded mallet is designed to bring all of the bowls’ frequencies up at equal volume.  We played with different thicknesses of the dowl, which is made of Sheesham, a Himalayan hard wood.  In time, we found if the dowls were about an inch thick, that was about right for producing a rim tone in all but the largest and heaviest of antique singing bowls.  This simple mallet produces the struck tones – the first recording you hear – of every singing bowl sound file on our web site.


Using the wool padded end, strike the singing bowl on its mid exterior wall, or on the interior  upper wall.  Acoustically, upper octave tones carry louder than deeper tones, due to their increased saturation of sound waves.  So when we strike a singing bowl with a padded mallet, we hear the richness of the fundamental tone much more clearly in the mix.  Avoid striking the bowl on the top of the lip, as this will produce too much of a percussive hit.


1. Sit as if you were sitting for meditation, with your spine straight and relaxed, your shoulders level and your breath generous but natural.  Make sure to release any unnecessary tension in  your arms, shoulders and face, as singing bowls are bio-feedback instruments and are really quiet when we’re holding tension in our bodies.

2.  Hold the singing bowl on the palm of your non-dominant hand, with your fingers energized and held closely together.  This is important so that your fingers and thumb do not involuntarily wrap around the base of the bowl while playing, which will dampen the sound.  Hold the bowl about Solar Plexus level, slightly tilted so that the aperture of the bowl is opening into the direction where your mallet is coming from.

3.  With your dominant hand, grasp the mallet in its center and hold it as if you were about to sign your name with the wooden end of the mallet. Make sure the covered part of the mallet is snuggled securely in the web between the thumb and the index finger, and that there is never any gap while playing.  So your grasp on the mallet should be firm, but never strained.

4.  Position the mallet at a 45% angle against the outside edge of the lip of the bowl.  With an even pressure, rub the mallet in at least 4 or 5 revolutions, or until you begin to hear the female overtone build.  Use a full arm movement; try to keep your wrist as straight as possible.

5.  Once the female overtone is bright and clear, reduce your speed and press a little bit more firmly.  If you continue to hear “chattering” against the lip of the bowl, reduce your speed even more.   Watch the bowl as you continue to rub the rim, and listen the bowl’s voice.  Adjust your angle, pressure, speed and focus accordingly.  The female overtone should sound sweet and clear.

Although it is tempting to close your eyes when first starting to play, I find that it’s helpful at least in the beginning to keep them open and to observe what you’re doing carefully.  If there is a chatter on the inside lap of the circle, check to see if your angle and speed are consistent all 360 degrees.  Once the tone is even and smooth and you’re really connected to the bowl – then close them.

Remember to apply pressure– the friction of the mallet against the outer rim produces vibrations which result in sound. Experiment with your speed. Usually people go too fast!


We first saw these coming out of Kathmandu about in the late 90’s, and now offer them as a dedicated rimming mallet.  They are made of a harder wood, and so when used for rimming, they tend to  bring up the female overtone faster and with less friction noise than the wooden end of the padded mallet.


That being said, the suede end also can be used to soften a strike.  Actually, I prefer using this mallet for for cup cowls because of the nice tonal balance it brings out.  Also, because of the pressure vs. weight issue: wool padding on a mallet softens the blow, and therefore more force is needed to create the struck tone.  A medium size bowl will hold its ground, but smaller cup bowls will go flying!  So for cups, I use the suede end to tap the inside of the bowl, rather than on its outer wall.


The suede end can also be used for isolating the singing bowl’s fundamental tone.  This is produced by massaging the bowl’s outer wall with the suede end of mallet, with slightly lighter pressure and an initial, faster speed.  When a set of signing bowls is based on fundamental tones, all of their rubbed tones will be played with this end of the mallet, which isolates the third octave frequencies in most medium sized bowls.  To hear an example of a set played like this, check out this Chromatic Master Healing Set.   First you will hear a mix of struck tones,  followed by a mix of the bowls played on the fundamental.

This technique requires awareness, breath and concentration.  Follow the instructions regarding your rimming technique for the female overtone, only use the suede end of the mallet and hold the mallet flush against the exterior of the bowl wall so that it is pointing straight up.  Experiment with using a little lighter pressure, and faster speed.  This technique may be used on all but the thickest Thadobatis, highwalls, and cups.  For more information on isolating the fundamental, please see my video How to Play a Singing Bowl.


This is the consummate mallet for isolating the fundamental tone of Highwall singing bowls.  The fatter dowl (2 ½” wide) exposes more of the bowl’s wall to the surface of the suede, and adds enough extra pressure to get all that metal moving!  The wooden handle of this mallet is just that – a handle. Although you could get a rim tone with it in a pinch, it is definitely designed just to be a handle.


For isolating the fundamental of a Highwall, use the suede end of the Fat Boy exactly as you would the suede mallet. This technique will pull 2nd octave fundamental tones out of most but the very smallest Highwall singing bowls. It sounds like monks chanting!  To hear this technique being used on Highwalls, check out this Chakra tuned set of Highwall singing bowls.  First you will hear a mix of the struck tones, followed by the fundamentals.

On Highwall bowls with triangulated lips, you have another option with a Fat Boy, When used around the edge of the lip with enough pressure, it can pull the female overtone up and weave it  into the mix with the fundamental, so that the now you are playing an interval of the singing bowls’ major frequencies.  Delicious!


Yes, it’s a screwdriver handle.  Producers Joe Sidaris and Dennis Ghiatis developed this alternative to a wooden mallet with Rain and Yogi John Franzoni were recording One Hand Clapping at Warner Brothers.  In a recording situation, the mikes have to be very hot in order to pick up the quiet, subtle nuances of singing bowl frequencies, so the friction noise of the wood against the metal becomes a major problem.  And so the Xcelite mallet was born!  We record most singing bowl rim tones with this mallet, and I also use them live in a miked situation.


Gripping the handle, rim the singing bowl with its lip nestled in the curve of the Xcelite’s flouted edge. They are available on our mallet page for purchase. Whatever you do, DO NOT buy one from the hardware store unless it’s hollow to begin with, or it’s a lot of hassle.  They also are manufactured with a couple of side seams that have to be sanded down in order to work.  The ones we provide are ready to go.  They require practice, but they are worth it!


These are for use with Highwall singing bowls only.  We have a variety of gong mallets available, but our best modifications for use with singing bowls are rubber headed, padded with wool.  They come rounded, or tubular in shape.  There is more percussion on a gong mallet strike, but they do emphasize the deeper tones of the highwalls.


Strike the outer wall of a Highwall singing bowl.  Let sustain.  Ride the sound waves deep within, floating freely in the inner space devoid of thought and emotion.  Rest there a while.  Repeat!

I am often asked the question:  “How do I know what frequency my singing bowl is”?  Well, actually a Tibetan Singing bowl produces several frequencies.  Most bowls (but not all of them) are tuned to a flatted fifth, also known as a Tritone.  So, the “struck tone” of a singing bowl is a contradiction in terms, because when struck, a singing bowl produces a chord, or interval.

The predominant tones we hear in singing bowls are a flatted Fifth interval, also known as the Tritone.  This interval was referred to as “the Devil’s Chord” and was outlawed by the Catholic Church in the 17th Century.  But the graduated diameters of singing bowls produce layers of rich additional overtones, which, when heard binaurally, create beat frequency which alters our brain waves from a Beta brainwave state to an Alpha state, and in some instances, to Theta.  Dr. Jeffrey Thompson, founder of the Center of Neuroacoustic Research wrote an amazing white paper on the effects of binaural beats on brainwaves entitled “Acoustic Brainwave Entrainment with Binaural Beats” which is a great resource to learn more on the physics of brainwave entrainment.

So unlike Crystal singing bowls, which are almost pure sine wave with a 3rd interval harmonic, Tibetan singing bowls are rich in layered frequencies.  The lower tone of the bowl (the fundamental) is produced by rubbing a leather mallet around the outside wall of the bowl; the female overtone (the bowl’s highest voice) bowl is produced by pressing the wooden part of the mallet along the outside edge of the bowl’s lip.  There is usually also a mid-tone present in medium size to large bowls, with multiple frequencies in between.  This tone will usually come up when you begin to play a medium sized bowl around the lip, and then after the bowl is warmed up it will resolve to the female overtone and jump an octave.  With some high-wall (“Jambati”) type singing bowls, you can often isolate this tone with a leather mallet.

To meter each frequency, first of all, we have to isolate it.  We usually use a Boss guitar tuner, unless someone wants to know the exact Hertz of a bowl, in which case we’ll use Peterson software on a computer or iphone.  The more sophisticated software will home in on the bowl’s broad waveform and list it.  If you’re using a more primitive guitar tuner, you’ll have to get a clean, isolated tone first, let it peak, and then start to decay before the tone will even out enough for the tuner to lock in and measure it.  But remember:  every singing bowl frequency is still a moving target.  Any measurement we take is only a snapshot of a moving wave form.

The frequencies you see marked on each singing bowl in Bodhisattva’s web store are measured by the whole or half tone, plus the number of Hertz (in multiples of two) either flat (marked by a minus -) or sharp (marked by a plus +) of the note.  If the frequency is concert pitch, we list the first 3 digits of the frequency’s Hertz value.  So a middle C would be marked C 261 Hz., for example.  If it were 2 Hz. sharp, it would be listed as a C +2 Hz., and so on.

Each whole tone is divided into a half tone (a sharp) and two quartertones (we don’t use these in Western music for the most part).  So you might see some of our sets built on quartertones: a whole note plus, or minus 10 Hz.  Here’s another trick to watch out for on our site: a sharp + 10 is the same thing as the next whole tone up minus 10 Hz.  Here’s what it looks like: A# +10 = B -10 Hz.  These notations are exactly the same tone, but they are used differently depending on what scale they’re in.

The frequencies produced by the bowl are determined by the bowl’s diameter, shape and density of its metal.  All three of these factors affect each other.  Generally speaking, the larger the bowl’s diameter the deeper sounding the bowl.  But the density of the metal counts, too:  the thicker the bowl, the higher the pitch.

Dr. Jeff Thompson once observed that the graduated diameters of the bowl actually produce a singing bowls’ harmonics.  That explains why the slope of the bowls wall can affect how many harmonics there are in a bowl. For example, smaller Cup bowls which are 4 – 5″ diameter will only have two distinct harmonics.  “Thadobati” type singing bowls usually have three: the fundamental, the female overtone, and a  mid-tone.  A High-wall, Low-wall-Thick-lip, or a Lotus type singing bowl with a broad slope at its base will have many more audible harmonics, and starts to sound more gong-like in timbre, as opposed to bell-like.

Because the ancient ones were handmade, then, their construction varied slightly with each and every bowl.  Their intervals are like voice patterns; no one voice is exactly the same.  So the pitches of the bowls were determined at the time they were made, and cannot be altered unless you subtract metal from the bowl (by sanding the basin of the bowl, for example).  Ancient bowl makers also altered the bowls’ frequencies  by creating “hatch marks” in the sides of the walls.

Knowing the frequencies of your bowl is really helpful if you want to add bowls to your collection, if you’re playing bowls with Western instruments, or if you want to find out what Chakra your bowl resonates with.  But that’s the extent of its usefulness.  Do you think the monks at Drepung Loseling Monastery cared which frequencies they were playing?  So once you know the frequencies of your bowl, just let it go!  Thank your left brain for retaining that information and get back the business of becoming one with the sound.


Antique Tibetan Singing Bowls do not merely sing. They communicate in a variety of ways, from their capacity as biofeedback instruments, to the informational subtext of their frequencies which we hear and feel in our bodies and energy fields as vibration. This blog will be based on my own experiences as well as those of customers and friends who have integrated the bowls into their healing and spiritual practices, and are guided by them as tools of discovery. I welcome all to share their experiences.

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