Tibetan Bowls for Stress Relief
As you are quietly reading this magazine we ask that you take a few moments and...
Think of birdsong on a summer's morning...
The tinkling sounds of a mountain stream...
Of walking over freshly fallen snow...
The roar of the distant ocean...
The sound of a dewdrop falling from a fern into a still forest pool....
Stress is the byword of this modern age of the Western world; we all need stress in our lives in perfect balance with all other factors of life today. Stress keeps us alert, on our toes, ready for action, and helps us achieve our best performance. One only has to see trained athletes on the starting blocks tensing, steeling and honing every nerve and muscle in their body, preparing for that instant action that will make up valuable seconds. That state of tension that competitors on TV quiz games use to ensure focus of concentration and alertness. Stress helps us win, stress helps us concentrate, balanced stress ensures a good performance. So what goes wrong?
It is all a question of balance between stress and calm, for stress cannot exist where calm is total. Alternate ripples of stress and calm create harmony, create balance, but if the ripples become waves, calm ceases to exist. Once the waves become tumultuous they can threaten to shake a body apart. The height of the storm is scary, it is impossible to think clearly or see beyond the incoming waves, to hear above the roar of uncertainty. Gradually all around become affected and in turn become stressful, others reflect the turmoil, and a vicious circle is created. Patience thins, tempers flare and the all-consuming vortex is born. The alternative is to swallow the anger, internalizing it and filing it away until the drawer becomes too full and bursts open or the anger turns inwards and becomes depression. Both emotions can eat away at the body and its energy, becoming physical ailments as the subconscious cries out for help.
Calm is the oil that spreads on troubled waters, for calm overrides stress, and once inner calm is established, the rampaging tiger becomes as friendly as a domestic cat. For stress can become a friend once calm is established. Yet how can this process begin to re-establish in the hustle and bustle of this modern world?
We believe that no knowledge is new knowledge and that by going back into the past the answer to modern dilemmas already exists. Our path of exploration led to the ancient teachings of Tibet and to the work of the monks prior to the Chinese invasion, from which has grown our deep love and respect for the Tibetan bowls, fashioned and used by the early monks. Our own introduction to the bowls was in itself a powerful awakening, as we quickly learned of the deep healing properties and the calming influences of these ancient artefacts. On first playing a bowl, we instantly felt cleansed and all negativity disappeared, seeing the world with greater clarity and purpose – our lives changed. The first bowl was purchased and the journey began!
The history surrounding the bowls is shrouded in mystery, as, after the ethnic cleansing took place in 1951, the monasteries were largely destroyed and the Tibetans scattered to the four corners of the world. With the help of a close friend who has spent many years studying the Tibetan culture, we have slowly pieced together the history of our beloved bowls.
The bowls are made of seven metals – one for each of the following planets: the Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn. All bowls are individual, and the differing proportions of metals produce different sounds. Traditionally the metals were poured onto a flat stone and beaten into the bowl shape with a hammer. The bowls were made by the monks, for the monks, for their offerings, and for their sound, which was meditated upon. Every young man in Tibet served time as a monk and it was part of the discipline and commitment at the monastery that the monk would spend many, many, hours of labour and meditation in the long process of making a bowl. The monks were not alchemists and did not understand a lot about the metals creating the alloy, so the mix was depended on the scarcity of the metals. Upon the death of the monk the bowls were stored. Some of the monks who had 'done their time' at the monastery became itinerant smiths making bowls of high quality.
After the Chinese invasion the bowls were used for purposes for which they were not intended; a wooden bowl used for food looks much like a metal bowl – a bowl is a bowl – although they were loved and respected by those who used them.
During a fraught period of history the hippies were chosen to introduce the bowls to the West, bringing peace and inner healing. It was unlikely that a Westerner would spend as much time as a monk listening and meditating, but, thanks to the hippie' attitude, a few Westerners take the bowls seriously and benefit from the healing that they give.
We were then given an opportunity to purchase ancient Chinese gongs, which totally complemented our fast growing collection of bowls.
Imagine relaxing on a sea of tranquillity, with gentle sounds washing over and through your body and energy field. Sounds that range from light tinkling notes to deep sonorous tones that lift and re-energize. Sounds that weave a tapestry of healing and relaxation. Allow yourself to 'let go' and be carried gently along in a dreamlike state as tension, pain and old emotions are eased and gently float away to be replaced by calm. A blissful state of being at one with the energy fields that surround you.
Each bowl has an individual shape, sound and personality and each has a feel for the monk who originally worked and used the instrument during their life of dedication to their faith and beliefs. Sound is a medium that can lift the listener to different states of consciousness. The effect of sound on water is scientifically proven (see also article following), and as the human body is composed mainly of water and is affected by vibrations, sound gently releases, heals, balances and harmonizes, allowing the recipient to 'dump' stress efficiently and permanently. As the bowls are regularly played they 'come to life' in that they develop a shine and a resonance that are not evident in a bowl that has been used merely for ornament. Each time a bowl is gently tapped or stroked, the resonance echoes through the energy field, each sound working on areas that are blocked, sluggish or out of balance.
The result is an amazing sound bath that bathes and lifts the recipient, gently easing and freeing emotions, soothing and calming the mind. The participant is then helped to focus the mind on areas they wish to release or clear, enabling them to let go and to allow the sensations to gently free and heal. The powerful resonance of the deep and oceanic gongs shift, release and uplift.
The experience is different for everyone who takes part and each has their own unique tale. Some feel transported to healing realms, some see colours or receive inspiration, and others release deep emotion. Some may feel anger towards one particular bowl or gong, but as they allow the emotion to wash over and away often enjoy the same sound moments later.
We will never know or understand the full power and quality of these ancient artefacts, but each time they are used a few more secrets are unlocked. We can only love them and learn what they have to teach us.
A few examples of responses to the sessions are:
* A fantastic and inspirational session;
* After a little while you become unaware of surroundings, time passes very quickly. Fascinating and very different from all other relaxation – I became a series of water eddies, which floated away to join all the others;
* Amazing – so relaxing it seemed to last moments rather than an hour;
* The best way to meditate I have ever tried;
* I was uptight and tense, it all changed with the bowls, surrounding me in deep relaxation – don't miss out!;
* Excellent – come with an open mind – leave with a relaxed one!;
* Amazing! The vibrations from the bowls really seem to totally permeate my body leaving me amazingly relaxed.
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