I am a big fan of sounding bowls, they are a wonderful sound healing instrument. I find them to be a great grounding instrument too and a good way to finish a gong bath meditation.
I have experianced people getting up too quickly after a hour long gong bath, but when I use my sounding bowl after the gongs have faded, people tend to be more relaxed and tend to come around when they are good and ready.
Tobias Kaye the craftsman who makes these bowls in his Buckfastleigh workshop has written a great artical on sounding bowls "How Does Sound Heal? And What is Healing? " I have included this artical below.
How Does Sound Heal? And What is Healing?
In order to address the question of how healing works I think we need a clearer idea of what healing is. We
need to move beyond the prevalent concept that healing is the removal of symptoms and look beyond
the body to deeper issues in human life. Historically and today there are many deep works of culture that
refer to the relationship between the human spirit and health, and in personal biographies we commonly see
how accident and illness mark turning points in an individual life story. Contrary to this much of our
modern medicine and even philosophy, as if at a loss to know how to approach the question of personal
development, take a kind of Darwinian approach of improving bodily health and strength at any cost.
Sound Healers often talk about health of the chakras and how health in the body can flow back once a
chakra has been ‘re-tuned’ and there is plenty of evidence for this. However to modern science the
chakra is still a mystery. How much more of a mystery then is the technology of human development,
of the pursuit of meaning in individual life? Yet this, I propose is the true source of health.
Darwinism and bio-physics has increasingly underlined the supposition, unique to the modern age
that consciousness is a product of biological processes. To me this is akin to suggesting that the reason for a
given car journey is the fuel that has been consumed. It is clear that the journey could not have happened
without the consumption of fuel, but it is also clear that the reason for most car journeys can not be found in
the structure or nature of the car itself. Thus it is clear to me that consciousness is supported by the body but
comes itself from other sources and has aims that are greater than the body even as the reason for the
journey is greater than the car. If health does indeed flow from a healed chakra into
the body, might it not also flow from a healed sense of meaning and from finding direction in one’s life into
these chakra’s and thence into the body? I think there is a good deal of evidence that this does happen.
Indeed it is a founding principle of various forms of medicine, notably Ayurvedic from the ancient east and
Anthroposophic from the modern west that healing is exactly this flow from the deep spirit,
helping us to re touch it’s direction and meaning in life, encouraging it’s flow, down through the astral,
or feeling for our daily life, into the etheric, or chakra organism and thus to ‘real’ healing in the physical body.
Some people working with the subtle edges of Cancer treatments speak of this sort of approach as
“attitudinal medicine” healing the attitudes that cause illness. This is perhaps the most subtle type of subtle
healing and much more research needs to be done, yet the effects some healers are having in this field are
significant and remarkable.
From this point of view one can look very deeply at why different sounds treat the same chakras in
different cultures. If there are indeed two levels of being above the chakra system then there is good
reason that they would respond to different stimuli, depending on the cultural context. Culture, like
individual biography having, in this case for a group of people, a spiritual direction and a soul nature.
In a recent article by the noted sound healer, James D’Angelo, sound as applied in healing was
defined as having some “regularly vibrating natural source preferably rich in overtones.” Organised sound
does seem to lie deep within the formative nature of matter and I suggest that classic references to sound, or
‘the word’ being at the beginning of all things are far more than speculation or philosophy. ‘The Word’ is
the organisation of sound to carry conscious meaning. Notes, overtones (intervals), music are similarly the
organisation of sound to carry deep emotive meaning and as such both phonetic healing and frequency-group
healing fit into the structure of assisting a person to reconnect with their meaning and direction.
I am careful here not to say find a sense of meaning, because such this commonly used phrase suggests that
maybe consciousness does arise from bodily processes and life has no meaning unless we give it one. In the
context of this article I can confidently say that this idea is, in itself, unhealthy, likely to produce ill health.
The idea that consciousness itself has meaning and direction with or without a body to reflect it is the basis
for finding true health in this context.
Today even many religious practitioners, priests and so forth have lost their relationship with this question and,
persuaded by the huge body of scientific evidence that there is no human spirit have fallen back on the
popular view that we have to make a meaning to our lives in order to be happy. To actively seek that which
already exists, a meaning and direction that, in the hurly burly of existence we have forgotten, is too
subtle a concept for many in this age of multitudinous facts and torrents of disconnected information that
masquerade as knowledge.
So, given that healing is a flow that begins in the connection to one’s sense of meaning and runs through
one’s general happiness with life, down through the chakra’s that sustain the etheric body and in to the
physical life of the organism, how does sound healing relate to this? Surely there is a relationship between
the organisation of consciousness into the life and body of earthly substance and the organisation of
sound into tone, interval and phonetic expression that can concur with and assist each other with, as James
D’Angelo puts it, sympathetic vibration. Does not all healing involve some level of sympathy?
A powerful tool in modern sound healing are the healing bowls of the east, mixed metals, and the of
west, quartz glass, together those of the middle, wood with strings. The metal and glass types from the poles
of east and west, with their single, mixed-overtone sound and comparative affordability quickly became
popular, while the stringed European type is quietly achieving a remarkable following amongst
professional in music therapy and sound healing in hospital situations. In spite of these successes not all
sound healers are yet aware of the powerful effect these instruments can have. Many of the healing
effects of these stringed sounding bowls have so far begun within the individual spirit and soul before
flowing into other areas of human life. There are reports of direct physical effects but most often it is
within the spiritual and emotional (astral) aspects of the human being that the effects are felt. This is by no
means less important, though many of us in this age are less aware of imbalances within our finer bodies,
there are those for whom these balances become dangerously disturbed. Some of England’s top High
Security Psychiatric Hospitals now use these stringed sounding bowls and report truly far reaching and
valuable effects on their clients. There is a very strong tendency for people to seek to be
healed, yet anyone doing healing, even within mainstream medicine is aware that if the patient is not
actively engaged and wanting to be healed no therapy can do much. Modern medical science is just
beginning to reach into this area of how to engage a person in their own healing and those working on the
more subtle edges such as vibrational healing are well aware that the healing they can assist in is ultimately
created within and by the person they are treating. This is the area within which stringed sounding bowls
really work. It is their special gift that they awaken the client’s interest in their own life, direction, and
engagement in the meaning of their lives.
Where a sounding bowl is offered it is not unusual for the client to shed tears, even upon first seeing the
instrument. How or why this might happen is mysterious but it does. Many people report feeling the
sound resonate within them on more than a simple physical level and it is not uncommon for people to
report feeling as though changes are taking place in their body in the region of the physical heart.
People familiar with sound healing and the eastern and western singing bowls have sometimes commented
that the metal and glass bowls take them into a very high space, or make them feel out, or around their
body and then compare that with the effects they feel on playing or hearing a wooden, stringed sounding
bowl by saying that they feel that within them, close within their heart, or say that they feel the centre is
warmed and relaxed by the sound.
Many therapists and healers using these stringed sounding bowls also comment on this heart-related
effect, speaking of how people with huge amounts of inner tension to the point of dangerous mental illness
can relax with sounding bowls better than any other instrument they use, and how people who distance
themselves pathologically from life and their own experiences can reach out and be moved by touching,
holding, playing sounding bowls of this type.
It is my proposition that these finer feelings, the opening of the heart, the connecting with a sense of
one’s own self worth and a feeling of warmth within are necessary precursors to any healing, of any sort.
That they are the stages of a flow of healing from the spiritual, down through the astral, that changed habits
of thought and feeling arising through this are responses and awakenings in the etheric body and that
real healing can and does result in the physical body form this flow. Yet perhaps even more importantly I
believe that the real healing is in becoming more of who it is our potential to be, bringing our personal gifts
into our daily lives is the most important and most deeply satisfying of all healings.
Evidence suggests that many of those who have found remarkable ‘openings’ as a result of working with
sounding bowls have gone on to find healings to many other issues in their lives, physical or spiritual.
For more details on sounding bowls go to Tobias website: www.soundingbowls.com