Several years ago, my wealthy mother-in-law took a trip to China and came home with 3 shiny, gorgeous metal bowls, which appealed to her as a decorative curiosity. Lillian was, shall we say, an heiress, and had incredible taste in all things. The bowls looked beautiful in her well appointed home in Scarsdale.
I had been experimenting with singing bowls around that time, and had purchased a very ancient bowl from Kaballah Bach that had it's own little markings at the base of the bowl. She said it had probably been used as a begging bowl, which really piqued my curiosity. I was drawn to the peaceful effect rimming the bowl had, and I began using the bowl as part of my daily meditation. When I saw my mother-in-law's bowls, I immediately tried to make them sing--and they did! One was quite large and had a mysterious low tone that I coveted. I had never asked her for anything before, ( I had 2 sisters-in-law named Avarice and Greed. I knew not to try to meddle with their precious inheritance) but I really wanted that bowl, so I humbly asked her that on her demise, I would be honored to receive the bowl as a powerful reminder of her. She agreed.
Well, I never got the bowl. Not that one anyway. My sister-in-law pretended she didn't know anything about giving the bowl to me, and at my next visit to her home, she had it prominently displayed on her desk. It had been diligently polished, and looked lovely there, but it wasn't getting a chance to sing.
I was disappointed, but accepted that daughter trumps daughter-in-law! I still was craving more singing bowls and secretly hoped she would change her mind and offer the bowl to me!
Sometimes the Divine Mother intervenes! A few months later I was at a local antique/junk shop and there they were! Not just one bowl, but a collection of 10, in a variety of sizes. I tried them all. Two wouldn't sing for me, so I left them behind, but the rest I took up to the shop girl to check out. Then, more miracles--they were on sale at rock bottom prices. I knew this was a blessing from the Goddess Saraswati, the goddess of music.
Lately, I've been using the bowls more and more in my Yoga classes. After we do our asana practice, we move into what I like to call "the dessert of the class"--guided relaxation, or Yoga Nidra. After a period of silence at the end, I silently pass out bowls and mallets, finger cymbals and jingle bells to each participant as they rest deeply. Then I begin to softly play the singing bowls, tapping gently with a mallet or rimming the bowl. I also have a metallophone (similar to a xylophone, but it has metal bars instead of wood) and several other "ringy-dingy-thingies" that I add to the mix. After a few minutes, I ask my yoginis to begin to sit up, find their bowl, and begin to play with me.
This leads us into such a magical state of joy and peace, it's impossible to describe. It's as if the atmosphere around us is being charged with the highest vibration, in a healing and soothing balm. Every week, our "sound bath" is a little different, but it's always transcendent. Sometimes it feels as if we could go on indefinitely, listening and playing the bowls, calmed into an exquisite sonic trance.
When it's time to end, we offer chants for world peace.
If you're in the area, please join me at Satya Yoga in Saugatuck on May 5 for an evening of chanting, Deep Relaxation, and Sound Bath. You will want to do it again soon!