Retuning the Brain With Singing Bowls

What is that sound that causes your head to throb or makes you suddenly sob?

Dawn James, a sound healer and author of Raise Your Vibration. Transform Your Life, has an idea. Dawn uses singing bowls to change how we resonate in the universe, and her book is a practical guide to attain better health with insights into how sound affects us.  

I found Dawn because I was bed-bound after surgery complications. Every sound I heard sent me into an endless rant or unequaled rage. A six-inch pin, which had been placed in my foot, was exposed at the tip. This meant that any physical contact with the outside world could cause a life-threatening infection. With no hope for even chair yoga, no body release, no activity, how could I find any peace of mind? I was only a candidate for mediation after a hard-core vinyasa practice

When a sound causes our head to throb, it's a signal that we have “an overwhelmed Beta brain in need of retuning," says Dawn.

Dawn suggested I start listening to bowls in music mixes and try strengthening my voice through her simple toning meditation. We started with bijas, mantras, or ragas and a few musical notes to facilitate harmony. My chant sequence: Lam, Vam, Ram, Ham, Sham, and then universal Om. Dawn taught me that those sounds were directly correlated to C, D, E, F, G, A, and B. As a yogi I could also envision the same sequence through my chakras: root, sacral, solar plexus, heart, throat, third eye, and crown. Ravi Shankar and George Harrison's “Shanti Mantra” was as a good starting point because it had deeper voices I could relate to as an alto.

To understand how the singing bowls can influence our state of mind, it's helpful to know the brain's different vibrations. We all have five vibrations our brain reacts to: Beta, Alpha, Theta, Delta and Gamma. Beta is an upright vibration, ferocious and alert, taking on the day. Alpha is the brain wave that causes us to fall into a daydream, listen to our subconscious, and guides us into meditation. Theta is the next wave of deep mediation or the first stage of sleep. Theta is the vivid moment where we dance on the precipice of REM sleep and colorful images start to drift into our brain. Delta is the moment we transcend into total quiet. The brain no longer dreams and we lose awareness of physical sensation. It is the moment when healing occurs in our body. Gamma is a frequency we do not know a lot about. What we do understand is this kind of burst occurs when we have an epiphany. Each of these stages (Beta, Alpha, Theta, Delta, and Gamma) has an oscillating pressure that can be measured in the eardrum, called a hertz.

When a sound causes our head to throb, it's a signal that we have “an overwhelmed Beta brain in need of retuning," says Dawn. Many of us now spend the day with a headphone or Bluetooth apparatus dangling from one ear. Dawn says, “This heighted state of Beta consciousness is dangerous. It creates a dynamic kingdom of alertness, logic, and critical thinking, but if we spend too long in this space it leads to stress, anxiety, restlessness, agitation, impatience, and edginess.”  

Dawn had me pegged. I was bedridden but wired. I sat at my computer all day interacting, pushing, working, and kept defining my inactive body as rested but my mind was angry and irritated. 

“We can’t live in Beta brain waves all day," says Dawn. So what to do about it? She likes to find the space between your ears that can change how information is being communicated to your body. The physical pathway stays the same, but she believes her singing bowls alter the outcome between how the three tiny bones in your ear (the hammer, anvil and stirrup) strike up the band.

Dawn studied with Fabian Maman, who has demonstrated at the University of Jussieu in Paris, the impact of acoustic sound on human cells and their energy fields. Fabian created a 20-string bronze instrument called a monochord. When it is strummed lightly, hertz sound waves directly change our internal resonance and disease cells contract. I had done a lot of progressive pain relieving homework from bed, but when it was finally time for me to go out and look for my own bowl, I felt overwhelmed. Dawn had these five tips:

How to Pick Your Own Singing Bowl

1) Decide on your budget: Old does not make it better and new does not mean it lacks ancient properties. Many are pure metals or metal combinations. There are also crystal bowls. 

2) Chakra focus or musical chords: From the list below sing the mantras and musical notes out loud and see which ones spark awareness in your body (good or bad). Which one raises your vibrations and needs attention?

3) What is your goal: Meditation, room clearing, grounding, or the possibility of physical change. Think about your intent when you experiment with them at the store

4) Tune up: A bowl should create a vibration that lingers and creates an echo in the room and your body. Do you feel joy, calm, soothed, playful, excited, or centered? 

5) Trust your instinct! You’ll know it when you hear it but try both wooden and soft moleskin covered mallets when you think you found the bowl for you. Listen to your inner wisdom and inner divinity.

Have you tried using a singing bowl? Let us know in the comments!


Andes Hruby has spent 30 years as a certified fitness instructor in five disciplines and graduated Columbia University with an MFA in writing. The American Council on Exercise accredits her as a Health Coach, Personal Trainer and Group Exercise Facilitator. To better balance her body Hruby began her training in the Ashtanga community under Beryl Bender Birch, David Swenson, and Nancy Gilgoff...READ MORE