What are those singing bowls that you see in Bhutan


The vibrations from the bowl affect your body and mind.

If you’re feeling stressed, need a timeout from life, or could simply use some rejuvenation… Try meditation!

Better still, meditate like the Bhutanese do, with a Tibetan singing bowl.

What is a singing bowl?

Think of a singing bowl as a bell. In fact, singing bowls are nicknamed “standing bells”, thanks to their bowl-like appearance. The bowls also go by other names, like resting bowl, prayer bowl, Himalayan bowl, Buddhist bowl, rin gong, etc.

The bowls are usually made of copper or tin, though some of the traditional ones come in a variety of metals, including mercury, lead, silver, iron, and gold.

When you strike the bowl or run a mallet around its rim/belly, the bowl emits a sound that some believe to possess healing properties. Others believe that this is the sound of “void”—the music of the universe.

The history of singing bowls

Different sources cite different origins of the singing bowls. One source says that the singing bowl can be traced back to the time when Padmasambhava spread Buddhism to Tibet from India in the 8th century BCE. 

Another source suggests that the bowl originated from China around the 16th century BCE. 

According to Tibetan culture, the singing bowls originated from the Bon Pot Shamans, sacred metallurgists who used their spiritual understanding of metals to make bowls that produce a unique sound and vibration. Sadly, there is no written record of the recipe of these metals.

Some ancient bowls are thought of as sacred relics. One particular bowl is believed to be the begging bowl used by an earlier incarnation of the Buddha. This treasured bowl currently sits in Drepung Monastery. The locals believe that the sound you get when using it is the sound of your karma!

How to use a singing bowl

Using a singing bowl might seem easy, but do not be fooled. It is actually an acquired skill that takes practice and patience to master. 

First, lay the bowl on top of your opened left palm. If the bowl is small enough, cup your hand, and place the bowl on top of your fingertips.

To play the singing bowl, use either one of the following techniques:

  • Strike the bowl with the mallet. This produces a sound similar to the ringing of a bell. 
  • Circle the rim/belly with the mallet. This creates a sustained, angelic tone. When you achieve the sound, remove the mallet and let the bowl ‘sing’. If you wish, you could strike the bowl before the circular motions.
  • Fill the bowl with water. The liquid produces a unique sound when you play. After you achieve the sound, tilt and swirl the bowl, letting it continue its vibration.

As you play, relax your mind and focus on the bowl. Use your whole arm to create the motion and not just your wrist.

This kind of mediation differs from another kind of singing bowl meditation where someone else plays, and you do not perform any movement. Performing your own movement is great, because it can help you declutter your thoughts.

How you arrange the bowls is up to you, but there are preferred configurations. They could be placed around your body, on your body, or in different spots around the room. 

The role of singing bowls

Singing bowls have a big role to play in sound therapy, consistent with the sound therapy beloved by indigenous people throughout the world that uses pulsing sounds, clapping, drumming, and singing—often for ceremonial, spiritual, and health purposes.

The configuration of the bowl placement is in relation to the person’s chakra. The harmonic vibrations of the bowl create balance and promote relaxation, activating the person’s chakras. Thus, the position, size, and usage of the bowls depend very much on the circumstances.

Furthermore, the singing bowls are also used to facilitate entry into a deep meditative state. When your brain synchronises with the sound frequencies of the bowl, you find it easier to focus and relax.

People all over the world—from east to west—wax lyrics about the singing bowl. Here are some theories why: 

  • The vibrations from the bowl affect the body and mind.
  • The sound impacts brain waves, inducing relaxation.
  • The sound might encourage the same psychological effects as music does.

If you think this is cool (and you could really use that much-talked-about relaxation), why not try out a singing bowl for yourself? You will not be disappointed.

Where can you find a singing bowl in Bhutan?

You can easily find singing bowls in souvenirs and handicraft shops along Thimphu and Paro. You are spoilt for choice as the singing bowls come in all shapes and sizes. Just pick one that you resonates with you.

Also, find out how a 70-year-old sound healer introduced gong therapy to Bhutan in the midst of COVID-19 pandemic.

Related Posts

70-year-old sound healer promotes sound healing in Bhutan through...

The journey of a passionate sound healer infusing the kingdom with sound healing through the love for gongs.

Sep 10, 2021 12:51

Chillies, a spicy affair in Bhutan

The Bhutanese love it hot.

Jun 07, 2022 23:55

Bhutan is traditionally a matriarchal society

Women are the decision-makers at home, but something is keeping them from public life.

May 27, 2022 22:14

The hot springs of Bhutan are believed to have miraculous healing...

The Bhutanese believe that hot springs are a blessing from the Buddha.

Apr 08, 2022 21:52

What are the five main fruits in a Bhutanese fruit bowl 'thokay'?

There are usually five fruits that make it to the 'thokay' (fruit bowl) placed on the altars or in front of the King,...

Mar 08, 2022 15:54

The best way to experience Bhutan is to spend a night at a...

Farmhouses in Bhutan are an architectural feat, made with only mud, stone, and no nails.

Mar 04, 2022 11:38



The story of the four harmonious friends in Bhutan

A story about friendship and respect. We should aspire to be like the four friends.

Jun 22, 2022 19:43

Bhutan Royal Prince assumed his first Royal Duty as Chief Guest at 6 years old

Prince Gyalsey Jigme Namgyel Wangchuck assumed his first Royal Duty as the chief guest at the tender age of 6, gracing the inauguration of...

Jun 09, 2022 22:40


7 interesting facts about the roads in Bhutan

Did you know that there are no traffic lights in the Kingdom?

Jun 15, 2022 21:52

The three most popular flowers in Bhutan

One of these flowers can only be found above 3,700m above sea level.

May 29, 2022 22:23


The enormous role of hydropower in Bhutan

Bhutan uses hydropower to conserve the environment, produce electricity, and achieve economic self-reliance.

Jan 25, 2022 11:43

Online businesses are becoming more and more popular in Bhutan

Even though the Internet was developed in the 1960s, the tiny Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan was only introduced to it in June 1999.

Jan 20, 2022 12:41


Try cycling in Bhutan on your next visit

Not only is cycling environmentally friendly, you also experience an intimacy you cannot get from behind a car window. What better way to...

May 31, 2022 22:43

Outstanding individuals, schools and clubs awarded for their contributions to grassroots football

On December 22, 2021, the Bhutan Football Federation (BFF), a bronze member of the AFC Grassroots Charter,presented awards to unsung heroes...

Jan 11, 2022 14:15


Join #mybhutanmemories campaign now to win FREE flight tickets to Bhutan!

All you have to do is to share your fond memories of Bhutan.

Jun 19, 2022 21:52

Trace the footsteps of the Divine Madman on this hiking trail

There is no better way to connect spiritually with Drukpa Kuenley, the “Divine Madman”. The trail will take you downhill for about four...

Apr 28, 2022 22:30


Chillies, a spicy affair in Bhutan

The Bhutanese love it hot.

Jun 07, 2022 23:55

Bhutan is traditionally a matriarchal society

Women are the decision-makers at home, but something is keeping them from public life.

May 27, 2022 22:14


A detailed summary of Bhutan's COVID-19 management and plans moving forward

With offices and all businesses open, movement of vehicles allowed and critical services resumed from 21st March 2022, Bhutan braces for a...

Mar 22, 2022 11:23

Vaccinated tourists to undergo 5-day quarantine in Bhutan from April 25

What you need to know about entering Bhutan from April 25.

Mar 14, 2022 14:21

Subscribe to our newsletter

Never miss out on new happenings and news stories!

Download Daily Bhutan Mobile App

Connecting with us just got easier!