Any activity that helps you slow down the pace of the active mind and brings you into a calm and peaceful state can be meditation. Whether it be a yoga practice, guided meditation, or walking outdoors to breathe fresh air. The key is to be present and mindful of all the actions you are taking.
The Use of Sound in Meditation
Using sound in meditation is a nice way to signal the opening and closing of your meditation practice. Whether you use a bell, chime, or Tibetan singing bowl, beginning with a sound helps you quiet your mind in preparation for the journey inward. Closing with a sound does the opposite: brings you back to the present moment to end your meditation.
Immerse yourself in the sound of singing bowls, chimes, and bells before or after learning more about them and how they can help your meditation practice.
Tibetan Singing Bowls
An ancient Tibetan meditation tool, the Tibetan or Himalayan singing bowl, makes pure sounds when the mallet rubs the rim. This sound is said to bring the brain into a meditative state. The vibrations have the same wavelength found in the brainwaves that make us feel relaxed. These days singing bowls are used throughout the world both with or without spiritual traditions for meditation, relaxation, trance induction, healthcare, personal wellbeing, and religious practices.
Meditation chimes are made of two rods that are tuned to nearly the same pitch, but not quite. When they are struck at the same time, they make an acoustical phenomenon called “beating.” They seem to be ringing with the same pitch, but you’ll hear a distinct rhythm or pulsation about 12 beats per second.
To clear the mind, focus, and reset your breathing, strike the chime and inhale, then as the echo fades, strike the chime to exhale. After inhaling and exhaling, start meditating.
Tingsha bells look like two cymbals attached by a rope or cord. That’s where the resemblance begins and ends. They often have 8 auspicious symbols on them, called the Ashtamangala. They are much thicker than cymbals, and they are not banged together like cymbals. Their beautiful cleansing sound is made by hitting the two edges together and allowing them to move apart from each other. The sound they make reverberates for approximately 15 seconds and gradually fades.
Sound and Meditation
Sound meditation is the practice of using sound to deepen the meditative state. For thousands of years, ancient culture has used sound to ease anxiety and promote a sense of wellbeing. Many cultures and religions have recognized the power of music to induce relaxation and meditation.
There are many forms of meditation you can use to help reduce stress, from guided meditations to transcendental meditation to mindfulness meditation. One of the simplest and most pleasurable is to use one of these instruments to take a sound bath. A sound bath is a meditation intentionally using sound to bring about the restorative benefit of meditation.
What Is a Sound Bath?
A sound bath is when you are immersed in the sound of bells, chimes, and sound singing bowls to provide relaxation and reduce stress, anxiety, and depression. The sounds offer a break from the relentless churning of the mind and can complement a yoga or meditation practice. It’s not surprising that these practices are often used together. Let’s explore the benefits of using bells, chimes, and singing bowls when practicing meditation.
The Power of Sound in Meditation
Meditation has long had a relationship with sound, mainly in the form of meditation mantras or meditation chants. When we say a mantra or chant during meditation, we’re using the vibrations of the sound to influence the energies of the subtle body. According to the yogic tradition, this is an unseen network of chakras and channels through which our deepest energies and consciousness move.
According to the tradition, sound at vibrations that our ears can’t hear are heard by our body, even if we don’t consciously register it. The smallest particles of reality move in a way that can’t be seen, but that is there. These highest vibrations appear to us as solid, still, and quiet.
The Benefits of Bells, Chimes, and Singing Bowls in Meditation
According to science, the long-term benefits of meditation include managing chronic health conditions such as heart disease, mental health disorders, addiction, chronic pain, insomnia, and headaches, to name just a few. Anything we can do to reduce the stress in our lives can help not only our mental health but also our physical health.
Meditation contributes to a greater sense of ease and reduces stress. But meditation with sound may have even more benefits. One theory suggests that sound calms the mind by teaching the brain’s electrical impulses to copy the ones we have in a meditative state, deep concentration, or relaxation.
The idea that music may be able to influence brain waves started with 20th-century otolaryngologist Alfred A. Tomatis. It became popular by Don Campbell’s book, the Mozart Effect. The book focused on music’s power to make us smarter and concentrate better.
Some suggest that listening to a singing bowl guides our minds towards theta brain wave activity. This is the same type of brain activity that occurs during REM sleep, creativity, and meditation. The theory is that when we’re meditating or in deep concentration, our minds move towards the frontal midline.
Studies support the theory that music, especially music we enjoy, alters our brain’s bio-electric oscillations, mainly in the range of alpha and beta frequencies. While sounds help us relax, we need more research to show that they target the same areas of the brain that meditation does.
No matter what the underlying reason for why it works, for those who find the sounds of bells, chimes, and singing bowls relaxing, spending time meditating with these sounds is a joyous activity that helps us deeply relax and destress.