When I first began meditating, I never used any props. I would simply sit in a cross legged position in the centre of my rug and breathe in and out, focusing on my breath and body. The only aid I would use was a guided meditation recording. However, as I began to practice more regularly and began making mala beads, naturally I started using a mala every practice. Mala beads have become a critical part of my meditation practice. I wear my mala every day off the mat, and I use my mala beads for counting breaths, for mindfulness and focus during yoga, and as a calming focus point throughout the day as I encounter challenges and stressful situations. Recently, my curiosity in sound as a meditation aid was piqued. I always make malas while listening to spiritual music such as Krishna Das or Snatam Kaur, and for the last month I have been exploring the relationship between sound and mindfulness. As a person who loves music, singing, and dancing, I found the idea of incorporating sounds into my meditation practice appealing and intriguing.
The idea to begin incorporating sound into my meditation practice was based on a suggestion from my Vipassana meditation teacher, Heather Martin. During her 6-week course at the start of the summer she introduced us to various ways of meditating from breathing, to walking meditation, to metta, to sound meditation. In our class on sound meditation we used the natural sounds that emerged in our environment to focus on sounds arising and passing without labelling or imagining the origins of the sound. I found sound meditation exceptional for observing the tendencies of my own mind and the types of thoughts that emerged as I encountered different sounds. By focusing on sound I was able to clearly see how my mind reacted even at the most subtle level to stimuli in the surrounding environment. If you are interested in experimenting with a sound meditation try Heather’s recording located for free download on Dharma Seed.
After a month of focusing on sound, I began to notice how much I enjoyed listening to meditations that started and ended with the playing of a singing bowl. I decided to invest in a beautiful brass singing bowl from Nepal. As soon as I brought it home I wanted to try it, I sat in the centre of my living room, closed my eyes, and hit the rim with the wooden mallet and proceeded to carry the sound along the rim in a clockwise direction. The sound was so deep and pure in tone, it made me feel completely centred in my inner self. I absolutely love my singing bowl. It is one of my favorite parts of my yoga and meditation practice now. Personally, I feel that having a singing bowl is a fantastic addition to an established practice. Singing bowls can be used to frame the start and end of your practice, they can be used to meditate, they can be used to ground and centre you almost immediately, they can be used to clear stagnant energy in a room or within yourself, and they are also exceptionally fun to play and joyful to listen to.
The Healing Power of Sound
In addition to the centring and de-stressing benefits of using a singing bowl, you can also pick a singing bowl that plays a specific note. While many singing bowls are hand-crafted and vary in tone, pitch, and note, you can feel different sounds in each of the different energy centres of the body. Each chakra can achieve balance through listening to specific and corresponding notes:
Root Chakra – “C”
Sacral Chakra – “C” and “D”
Solar Plexus Chakra- “E” and “Eb”
Heart Chakra -”F” and “F#”
Throat Chakra -”G” and “G#”
Brow Chakra – “A” and “Bb”
Crown Chakra – “B”
If you are interested in using sound to tune your chakras and balance them, there are several instruments you can use. You can use a singing bowl that plays in the respective note or notes that you’d like to work with or you can use a chakra chime, such as those made by Soul Vibes on Salt Spring Island.