Q: What do singing bowls, meditation and neuroscience have in common?
A: Mind wellness.
In enhancing our wellbeing and quality of life, the first thing that we should address is the wellness of our mind. As it happens, mindfulness and meditation are the simplest approaches to maintain and sustain such wellness.
We have been conducting singing bowls sound baths as part of meditation sessions, on-site or off-site of Luxe Nova Lifestyle Studio. From the feedback of the participants, it has started to show us the common effects of the sound vibration, including:
- It can stop the mind from wondering off and quieten the cluttered thoughts.
- It creates an invisible blanket around the body to help it to slow down.
- It relaxes the participants almost immediately, even though they have remained aware of the surrounding environment.
- It is energizing – physically and mentally.
- Many felt restful after the session.
Indeed, it is satisfying to watch the participants getting the immediate benefits from a session of singing bowls sound bath. At the same time, it has caused me to look further into the findings in neuroscience.
Traditionally, Tibetan singing bowls have been used for healing and meditation purposes. According to the traditional method, there are some specific requirements in the making of a singing bowl. For instance, each bowl must contain 7 types of metals: Gold, Silver, Copper, Iron, Mercury, Tin and Lead. Each metal is associated with one planet.
It is understood that each planet relates to various parts of our energetic anatomy – for instance, our chakras. Through sound vibration from each metal and the combination of these metals, our body get the healing physically and energetically.
Below is a table showing the relevant association:
It is evident that the sound vibration can filter the cluttered thoughts and calm the mind and body. When singing bowls (whether Tibetan or crystal bowls) are incorporated into a meditation session, the effect and benefit of the meditation are enhanced immediately.
There are tons of research on the correlation between meditation and our brain – in particular, what meditation can do to our brain, so that our quality of life is enhanced.
Here are a few interesting findings about our brain:
Neuroplasticity. Throughout our life, our brain has this amazing ability to reorganise itself by forming new connections between neurons and even growing new neurons in response to thoughts and experiences.
Relaxed egos. A study from Institute of Psychiatry, London, has shown with MRI scans as to how our brain activities change during the meditation. For instance, the front area of brain, which is associated with self-centeredness and egos, becomes relaxed during meditation.
Increased self-awareness. Another group of researchers (associated with Harvard) have also found that after their subjects have practiced a small doses of mindfulness mediation daily over a period of 8 weeks, they have found an increase in the gray matter in the area of the brain associated with self-awareness, compassion and introspection. They have also found a decrease in the gray matter in the area of the brain associated with stress and anxiety.
Rewire the brain’s default mode network. The default mode network of the brain means the network of active brain regions when we are awake. When this default mode network is firing up, it means that we are thinking about ourselves, worrying about what others’ perception of “me”, thinking about the future, regretting the past etc. In short, we stop focusing on the moment of “now”. A study from Yale has found that when people meditate, this default mode network is switched off. It also shows that people who meditate regularly have rewired this network, so that they focus more on the present moment.
Supposedly, with these scientific evidence, it should provide more comfort to you (the readers) and encourage you to meditate more regularly.
It is nice if you can meditate for a long time or even go on regular Vipassana meditation retreats. Frankly speaking, this is an ambitious goal and more likely to remain as an aspiration for many people.
The more realistic and achievable goal is to create a new habit of doing meditation regularly. All it takes is to be simple and spend as little as 5 minutes a day to meditate. When you do it regularly (or even better, daily), you will definitely notice and feel in yourself the changes.
Recently, we had the opportunity to do a singing bowls demonstration to the members of the Asia Society Hong Kong. It was a lovely evening to share with so many people the beauty and power of these singing bowls. Although the demonstration was a very short one, the feedback from the guests were similar – especially that they felt relaxed very quickly and some even felt energised.
And the best comment of the night was from a guest who is a professional musician and he called the sounds from these singing bowls “the essence of music”. To me, it was a beautiful encouragement to continue sharing my love and passion.
With love & light, Stephanie
Some snaps from the Asia Society Hong Kong Members' Event