I’ve always loved singing bowls and gongs as far back as I can remember however my only interaction with them was what I read or saw on TV, a far cry from a first hand experience with them. We did grow up with wind and other chimes however and they swayed to wind on our porch every Spring and Summer.
I didn’t have a personal experience with gongs until my early twenties when I took a trip to Bali and at once, was more than hooked — I was mesmerized. It shouldn’t surprise me since I’m a musician and love unique instruments, although using them for healing and spiritual practice was new.
Forward wind the clock many years and I still hadn’t used them “at home” in a regular meditation practice until recently. Every time I walk into a Tibetan, Indian or Indonesian store, I always play with the gongs and the singing bowls when they have them on display. That’s why when the renowned folks at Gongs Unlimited and Unlimited Singing Bowls said they’d send us a few products to experience, we couldn’t be more excited.
You’ve probably heard that sound is being used more and more in healing and as a way to further relaxation. The truth is — how sound, especially soothing sounds affects the health of the mind and body is far from new. In Buddhist practice or even when you go to a generic yoga class, you’ll likely find one where they chant for part of the session. Let’s face it – mantras and chanting have been part of Hindu spirituality and for thousands of years.
Gongs have been around since the Bronze Age, where they were used in Shamanic healing ceremonies announce the start of ceremonies. According to Gong Healing:
“Gong Baths and gong bath therapy has been used longer than any other instrument for holistic sound healing.”
I live in northern California so there’s plenty of interest in mind/body living and spiritual medicine and of course, sound as a means of healing and calming the mind and spirit is discussed and not just at a holistic event, mindfulness retreat, crystal event, happiness expo or spiritual conference. I am a huge fan of music in nature — together, I think they are one of the most powerful combinations I know to put the mind, body and spirit at ease.
We are after all in the Age of Aquarius, so it shouldn’t be surprising that this wonderful ancient tradition is experiencing a modern-day renaissance. But, how do gongs and singing bowls play into this modern-day renaissance?
Today, sound therapy (from soft high pitched instruments and tuning forks to gongs and singing bowls) is used as a mindfulness and wellness therapy by many practitioners and often referred to as vibrational medicine. Physics tells us that everything vibrates: the table you sit at, the bag you touch, the couch you relax in at night and nature around you, like a stream, rocks, trees and grass.
From Gongs to Singing Bowls
Let’s take a look at Gongs Unlimited, which is the most prolific site we found on the web on gongs, not surprising given they’ve been around since 2004. Unlimited Singing Bowls is the new sister store of Gongs Unlimited and they cater not just to sound healers, yogis and meditation groups but people who are interested in experiencing the power of the beautiful and healing sound that you get from both gongs and singing bowls.
They’re based in America’s midwest (Nebraska to be precise), which is one of the more down to earth parts of the country I’ve traveled through. During this process, I learned quite a bit from them, from my own research and most importantly, from my own experience using them.
These gorgeous sound creating bowls can be an integral part of your healing and centering.
Because we’re focused on Transformative Travel and cultures around the world, I thought I’d start with a l’il education on the gongs from a few countries and how they differ.
You can find gongs in many Asian countries, so I’ll only cover a few of them. Tuned Thai Gongs from Thailand for example, are made from high quality bronze and known worldwide for both their quality, resonance, and perfect tuning.
Then, there are Vietnam Gongs from Vietnam which come in two main types: Cong and Chieng. Cong has the bell or nipple, while Chieng does not.
Cong Gongs from Vietnam create deep bass sounds, while softer more musical sounds are produced by the Chieng Gongs from Vietnam.
Gongs of Nepal are quite special, and have a deep rooted history. If you’ve been to Nepal, you know that people have been living in the hills for many years.
Return to my power of nature and healing sound example above. Nepalese gongs mix various metals to create the magic of the sound that a Nepalese gong delivers. Their gongs below have Buddhist symbols, Hindu Prayer Snippets and Nepalese designs, that are hammered and etched by craftsmen who use techniques that have been around for centuries.
So, if there are a zillion gongs and singing bowls from all over the world to choose from, how do I know what’s right for me? If you’re new to them, I‘d suggest finding a mid-sized one (in other words, not an entry level small one for that will limit the quality of the sound you get) that either comes as a kit to get started.
For example, the gong we went with came with a stand and a mallet although you can certainly buy a few different sized mallets, which we’d recommend. It’s useful to have a few different sizes, as each will produce a different sound.
The Atlantis Gong
We tested out the 12 inch Atlantis Gong, which comes on a Woodsonic Gong stand. Note that its width and height is around 16 inches and the center space of the gong is 14×14.
Why is it named after the island of Atlantis, which btw, is said to have been sent to the ocean floor by the Gods, allegedly located “beyond the pillar of Hercules”? Historians know that the legend of Atlantis lived on, finding a home in literature and beyond. Their Atlantis Gongs are rich with mystery.
“As an unlathed gong it resists crashing, but just like the unique, multi-textured color palate, this gong has a range of incredible range of sound.”
I love the fact that the 12 inch one comes as a set and is compact enough to fit easily into most homes and urban apartments whereas some of the larger ones would require a larger space. Because the larger ones are so much richer in sound, I wanted to share a video from their official channel of the 22 inch Atlantis Gong — it will hopefully blow you away as much as our experience has with the Atlantis Gong‘s sound. We use it often!
I have to admit that the way they depict the sound is much how we experienced it: the sound is deep and mystic, almost mystical.
Pumori Natural Singing Bowls
We tested out the 12 inch Pumori Natural Singing Bowl although they do come in smaller and larger sizes. Based on our experience, I’d recommend a 12 or 18 inch one. And, like the gong, our bowl came with a mallet as well as a pillow. It weighs in at nearly six pounds, so you may want to use this one at home and get a smaller more portable one for traveling although we did bring ours to the beach one afternoon.
For historians, Pumori is often referred to as “Everest’s Daughter” which stands at the top of the Khumbu Valley, on the border between Nepal and Tibet.
The Pumori Bowl is made of bronze and when sung, the bowl provides a very relaxed low sound, however the intense vibrations can be felt in your body and the people near you. This bowl will mesh brilliantly with all kinds of sound healing.
At first, it was hard for us to get the bowl to sing the way we heard them so easily do in videos. Here’s a general video with tips on how to play a singing bowl for the first time and here’s a video from Gongs Unlimited on the Pumori bowl so you can get an idea of how it sounds.
After awhile, we were able to get it to sing – quite honestly, this will happen with whatever bowl you get, since it takes a little time to get used to how a bowl “likes” to be played. They are very personal btw, so a sound that you resonate with may be different than what your partner or friend likes. We found it very warm and relaxing — the combination of using both the singing bowl and the gong (before and after meditating together) was very powerful.
Practice with your new bowl for an hour before you use it for any relaxation or meditation time. In other words, get accustomed to how it plays, what sound works for you and what doesn’t.
I’d suggest lighting a few candles, placing a few of your favorite crystals around you, and then play the bowl before and as you start to meditate. Sit calm and still, and allow the vibrating sound to go through you. After you have finished meditating, lightly sound the gong for a more lasting and serene effect.
We LOVE these products and encourage you to give them a try. They come in a wide variety of price ranges, but you can get set up very reasonably and they’re worth it. More details on their websites below including how to order.
The Bodhi Bowl
The picture below is one example of a unique design hand-etched onto the bowl and is roughly around 11 inches and weighs in at nearly six pounds.
The Bodhi Bowl is made from bronze and has a much deeper tone than most of the traditional singing bowls. Think: eclectic sounds and earthy vibrations. It can be louder than some other bowls, but doesn’t sustain the sound for quite as long.
Bodhi is a Sanskrit name translated as “enlightenment” or “awakening” which relates to a Buddhist concept, wherein Bodhi is synonymous with the state of nirvana, being freed from hate, greed and ego. The Bodhi tree is a large fig tree under which the founder of Buddhism received enlightenment.
Watch the video we created of our experience of these fabulous products in nature, a great place to try them out. From the Redwood Forest and the beach, to a leisurely hike in Santa Cruz and sailing in the San Francisco Bay.
WBTW Video on Our Experience!
Where to Find Them!
Note: while we did receive products to test out and play with, all opinions expressed are entirely our own.
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