Some may say that Buddhism is a minimalist religion since it does not employ the volume of icons and items found in other religions. But, to assume there are not items associated with the practice of Buddhism would be an inaccurate assessment. Depending upon the type of Buddhism one is practicing, certain components are utilized effectively in its practice. In Tibetan Buddhism, various items are used effectively in the process of worship. Of the many different products used in the performance of Buddhist practice, singing bowls would be among the most unique and interesting. This is why they deserve a closer look.

Singing bowls can deliver a great help in the practice of Buddhism since they aid in developing the mind to arrive at a relaxed and calm state. This can reduce stress and improve the potential to meditate properly. In some instances, the sounds of the bell are designed to help worshipers fall into a relaxed trance-like state for deeper mediation. Considering the value that such singing bowls present, it is no surprise that they have endured through centuries of Buddhist practice.

Singing bowls are not so much bowls as much as they are bells designed to resonate sounds. Such sounds are designed to help with oral chants as well as spreading the message of Buddhism. Specifically, this is a bell that possesses a design that is a departure from most bells. Namely, it is not a bell that is set up in such a way that it hangs from a frame or employs any type of handle. Rather, such a bell is commonly an oversized one that stands on a platform of sorts designed to keep it in place. Over time, smaller models of the bell were developed. There are even mini-models available for those inclined to purchase such bowls. Regardless of the size of the singing bowls, the sound of the bell derives from vibrations and resonations that come from the sides of the bell as opposed to its interior. This creates a unique vibration that is easily recognizable to those familiar with this type of bell.

Once again, it is important to point out that not all singing bowls are oversized. There are many ‘mini’ singing bowls that are not much all that different in size that the type of cooking bowls that you would find in the average kitchen. Of course, the design of the singing bowl is such that it is intended for making sounds and not for cooking. This may not be evident upon first sight but once you actually hit the bowl, you will discover that the amazing sounds the bowl can utter. Yes, the design and attention to detail that goes into the creation of the bowls can deliver some surprising sounds.

While commonly employed in Tibetan Buddhism, singing bowls are not exclusive to this branch of Buddhism. These bells are quite popular in Nepal, India, and Japan, in particular, where these bowls have a long history and tradition in the practice of Buddhism.

The deep tradition of singing bowls leads many to wonder about their origin. As such, a closer look at the history of these bowls is also well worth exploring…..

The original evolution of singing bowls may be lost to time. Records of the origination of the bowls were either not effectively maintained or they were lost/destroyed. We do know that they have existed for many centuries and are found in Buddhist practices all over the continent of Asia. Despite the differences in cultures from, say, Japan and Vietnam, the singing finds its way to Buddhist temples in both lands where they are employed in essentially the same manner. This should not come as much of a surprise since the prime tenants of Buddhism do not change from land to land. As such, much of the practice stays the same as well.

Regardless of where you practice Buddhism, many of the tenants of how you practice it will not change. Namely, you will need to meditate and possibly enter into a trance-like state. Those unable to do so will find it very difficult to properly get the most out of their prayer sessions. The vibrations put forth by the singing bowls can provide the relaxing and calming sounds that one can meditate on. Such sounds can allow the practitioner to drift into the relaxed state of consciousness that aids in calming the mind and accepting the proper meditate state. This, in turn, makes it possible to get the most out of the prayer session.

The sounds of the bowl will depend upon the size and thickness of the bowl. Of course, how you strike the bowl will play a role in the sounds that it makes. With a little practice, however, hitting the right pitch should not prove all that difficult.

There are seven different types of metals that singing bowls are produced from. Each of these seven metals is designed to reflect celestial bodies in the sky. (Specifically, it is the sun and the moon along with the planets Saturn, Mars, Jupiter, Mercury, Venus, and Saturn) Two of the metals yield some rather expensive singing bowls. These two metals are, of course, gold and silver. Mercury bowls are not as popular due to people having concerns over exposure to mercury. (This is the case whether such concerns are valid or not. In reality, mercury bowls are harmless) Generally, the most common singing bowls you will find are tin, iron, copper, and lead. And, of course, such metals are more affordable and accessible.

So, no matter what your budget may be, you can assuredly find the proper singing bowl for your tastes and needs. Hopefully, this can aid in improving your Buddhist prayer sessions and practicing.

Author's Bio: 

Sylvia Smelcer is the author of e-commerce websites selling items about Buddhism and meditation, including sites with Meditation Singing Bowls, Prayer bowls used in meditation, and Buddhist tingshas.