Sound medicine is sound vibration that is created via an instrument such as a chime, a gong, or a singing bowl. Sound medicine is used for meditation, relaxation, and overall stress relief and well-being. Those familiar with a meditation practice and yoga have perhaps had their instructor use a chime or gong before and after a class to focus and/or re-focus one’s attention to be in the present moment. In addition, the vibrational sound helps to realign one’s energy to feel more relaxed, more at peace, and be more present.
In particular, Singing bowls are a lovely addition to a Massage practice. These types of bells date back 3,000 years or more to the Bronze Age. Singing bowls bring the body into its parasympathetic nervous system, which governs rest and relaxation. The digestive, immune, & reproductive systems function best when the body is in its parasympathetic nervous system (versus the sympathetic nervous system, which is the “fight or flight/freeze or faint” aspect of the nervous system). The singing bowls can slow down the body systems and bring a deep sense of calm to the giver and the receiver.
Our normal waking state resides in the Beta frequency, but with sound tools and sound medicine, the brain waves move deeper into the Alpha and Theta brain wave frequencies, which help us be still, meditate, and relax in an easier way. These singing bowls also help us reside in more peaceful states with increased clarity of mind and intuition.
Each of the singing bowls is tuned to a different sound, which connects with the chakras, which are major energy spirals along the spine. For example, a larger-size bowl has a deeper resonance, which connects with the root and sex chakras, and a smaller bowl will have a higher pitch sound, which is more appropriate for the heart chakra.
At our massage school, we teach students how to integrate the Sound Medicine into a Massage session. Along with utilizing deep breathing techniques and “sounding” (humming and oceanic breathing sounds), we instruct students on integrating the sound tools throughout the massage session. For example, some of the traditionally crafted, Tibetan or Nepalese singing bowls are best for striking with a felt-covered mallet instead of having it sing (striking the felt mallet on the bowl and moving it around the rim of the bowl) so for those singing bowls we teach our students to place them on the receiver’s body to facilitate the sound vibration and medicine directly on the person for a deeper sense of relaxation and healing.
From the Supine position (face up), you can place a larger singing bowl directly on the abdomen (of course over a warm cloth, towel, or over the massage sheet as the bowl will be cold upon initial contact), and then the student can gently strike the bowl with the felt mallet in an upward motion–striking all four sides of the bowl to represent the four major directions (east, west, north, and south). And then the student can place the smaller bowl on the sternum/chest area closest to the heart and follow the same technique. This technique can also be done in the Prone position (face down) by placing the larger bowl on the lower back and the smaller bowl on the upper back. And for the bowls that are made with perfect rims for singing, the student can sing the bowl around the receiver’s head as the sounds align best with the third eye and crown chakras.
We encourage you to start and end your Massage sessions with the singing bowls on the receiver’s body. Our student and client feedback has been that when the session starts with the singing bowls, the person is able to drop into the session in an easier fashion–the “monkey mind” ceases sooner with the bowls at the beginning of the session. By ending the session with the bowls, you encapsulate the session–giving it some closure and a higher sense of resonance.