Yogis have used singing bowls for decades, but in recent years crystal alchemy bowls seem to be displacing the traditional Tibetan variety. Discover the healing power behind their sound.
"The resonance of the bowls seems to grow our interior spaces,” Yoga Journal LIVE presenter Elena Brower says. “During classes I find the time slows down and we find a nurturing, slower, and more potent pace."
Even outside the yoga world, though, their sounds are revered. Paul Utz, one of the two founders of Crystal Tones—the Utah-based company that was the first to make crystal alchemy singing bowls—has heard of them being used in hospitals, schools, meditation studios, and therapy settings. All further evidence that in recent years, crystal singing bowls seem to be displacing the once ubiquitous Tibetan singing bowls, traditionally used throughout Asia for Buddhist ritual. Why the sudden shift?
The Power of Crystal Singing Bowls
Not all sound affects our systems the same way, says Beverley Wilson, owner of Mt. Shasta’s Middle Earth Crystal Room. While Tibetan bowls “are absolutely wonderful,” she says their sound “doesn’t penetrate our bodies in the same way because we have very little metal in our bodies.” On the other hand, Utz points out that we are primed to receive the sound that crystal bowls make in our bodies because “we are water and our bones have a crystalline structure that creates an entrainment between sound and body.”
Originally, Utz and Crystal Tones cofounder William “Lupito” Jones only made the Crystal Singing Bowls from pure quartz (heating natural quartz up to 4,000 degrees Fahrenheit, its melting point, and pouring it into a graphite mold where it cools and hardens). “Quartz is a vibrational transmitter,” Wilson says. “It is used as a transmitter in almost all of our technologies. It carries the vibrational consciousness of the metal or the mineral or the crystal into our cellular knowing. We’re water. We are a perfect receptor for this kind of information.” Consider how running your finger around the edge of a crystal glass full of water makes it ring and the water itself shift. Because we are about 65–70% water, we react to the sound of the crystal bowls similarly, as their vibration penetrates into us.
Curious “what the periodic table or the gemstone kingdom” sounded like, Utz and Jones later began to either blend metals or minerals or crystals into the molten quartz or apply them to the surface of the hardened quartz bowl. They now sell more than 70 different mineral or crystal blends.
The tones the bowls carry impact us in specific ways. Wilson says different tones activate different chakras, organs, and organ systems. For example, C sharp activates the pineal gland, the integration of the third eye and the crown chakra, and the adrenal system. The same goes for metals, minerals, or crystals, she explains, saying each has its own properties and effects on us. For instance, amethyst activates the crown chakra, while rose quartz activates the heart chakra. The alchemy bowls combine the effects of tone and metal, mineral, or crystal. When the bowl is played, “at the same time the tone of the bowl is doing its work, the consciousness of the metal or the mineral or the crystal is doing its work,” explains Wilson, who plays and sells the crystal bowls, representing Crystal Tones in Northern California.
The Effects of Crystal Alchemy Bowls
This combination of what the bowls are made out of and how we receive their sound in our bodies is the basis of why the bowls so moving and healing. Because we are primed to receive their sound, they can evoke true transformation. “You let go of your head, play them, listen with your body, and they’ll teach you,” Wilson says. Utz notes that he has witnessed “huge shifts of consciousness” when people use his bowls. Musician Ashana speaks of her own transformation: when she played her first bowl, she immediately thought, “light has come to live in my house,” and set off in a new direction with her music.
Yoga teacher Saraswati Om, director of Dharma Yoga Syracuse in New York, plays crystal singing bowls to help “students experience a deeper state of not only relaxation but consciousness and the ability to connect and awaken their own inner healer.” For people who are working through emotions or challenges, Om says that “when you work with the alchemy bowls things seem to accelerate.”
Listen to crystal singing bowls on these tracks from Ashana now.
“The Embrace,” Ashana (2006 Angelic Tones/ASCAP)
“Soulmerge,” Ashana with Thomas Barquee (2007 Angelic Tones/Barkawitz Music/ASCAP)