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Meditation Bells

Author Jennifer    Category Fitness     Tags , , , , , ,

Meditation bells are an indispensable element of the Zen Buddhist practice of Zazen, or meditation conducted from a seated position. The bell is traditionally rung three times to signal the beginning of the meditation session, a practice known as shijosho.  The session concludes with the bell ringing once, called hozensho. The practice of bell-ringing will also occurs during walking meditation, or kinhin.


The most widely used form of meditation bell is the singing bowl, also known as a Tibetan or Himalayan bowl. Originating in Hindu meditation practice and brought to Tibet around the 8th century AD by the tantric Buddhist scholar Padmasambhava, this standing bell vibrates when struck and is believed to facilitate contemplative responses in the listener, who may feel a correspondent tremor from one of body’s charkas, or wheels of energy in the midsection, leading to an advanced process of meditation. The body’s response encourages a balancing alignment of right and left-brain activity, creating the ideal conditions for a universal experience.


Although still used in all branches of Buddhist meditation, today the singing bowl has expanded to a variety of disciplines around the world, including yoga, new age therapies, holistic relaxation, hypnosis and healthcare and musical entertainment.

Modern singing bowls are manufactured mainly in India, Nepal and Bhutan and are usually made from copper. They are often decorated with detail related to pervasive meditation themes like mantras, mandalas and other Buddhist images. A padded mallet is used to produce a clear and simple bell tone. The rim of the bowl can also be rubbed with a playing mallet.


Antique singing bowls, however, provide a window on the history of Hindu and Buddhist meditation, as well as lost techniques of classical metallurgy. The 12-metal alloy in the bowls was the same as that used to construct Hindu temple icons circa 8th century BC, and the sound produced is deep and multiphonic, producing frequencies often assimilating between two and all seven notes of the Western scale. This mix of blended sound frequencies produces unique and entrancing effect which, along with the craftsmanship lost to time and industrialization, makes the antique bowl a coveted item both within and outside meditation circles.


A third type of singing bowl in use is the more modern crystal bowl, which is not actually made from crystals but from silicon glass. The bell tone produced, known as a “pure sine” tone creatres a sharper and more bracing tone for the listener. They are sold widely in separate forms corresponding to the notes of the western scale.


Athough not technically meditation bells, singing bowls have branched out into the music industry. This music is widely available online and most often used by holistic healers, psychic workers and yoga instructors to balance the energy in their workspaces.