I am always on the look out for new experiences for my students, so when the local Buddhist centre offered to run a free workshop on Himalayan Singing Bowls I jumped at the opportunity. Now I know it is not directly linked with the spec but I strongly believe that wider experiences are crucial to a student’s development, helping them see beyond the exams, homework and endless monotony of power points.
So my first year’s ventured out of the classroom and down to the Hub, ready to enter the unknown world of meditation through Singing Bowls. Everything was already set up, by our workshop organiser Kate, who had brought with her over twenty singing bowls from her many travels across Southern Asia. The students sat on the floor in a large semi circle and asked to close their eyes as Kate walked around gently circling a small singing bowl in her hands close to them. After taking a few photos I joined the students and had my first experience of a Signing Bowl and what an experience it was! It was amazing, totally captivating, as if it touched deep inside your core and you just felt peaceful, the vibrations permeating over your body, making you feel totally calm. One student said “It was very calming, put all the stresses in the back of my mind, I didn’t consider any troubles.”
Throughout the workshop, the students learnt about the history and practices of using Singing Bowls especially for meditation. Originally understood to have come from Buddhist monasteries in Tibet and used as sacred vessels in monastic ceremonies, the bowls have sound qualities previously unheard in the west. We explored how different bowls, those that are hand beaten or carved and decorated, each have a distinctly different sound. Every hand forged bowl was unique, with a quality of sound that was determined by the precise composition of the bronze alloy used, the shape, thickness and size. This all affected the bowls fundamental note, pitch, harmonic resonance, duration of vibrations and tone. What was so surprising what how you seem to connect with one bowl and sound more than another. Certain sounds, for me, were awful, like nails on a chalk board whereas other sounds seemed to consume me in a blanket of calmness.