“Which chakra is this singing bowl?” is one of the questions I am often asked. What’s a chakra? How does sound relate to a chakra? Why do people talk about chakras in relation to singing bowls?
Chakras are a concept from Hinduism. According to Hindu belief, a spiritual body lives inside a human being’s physical body. The spiritual body is believed to exist alongside our physical body. Chakras are said to be vortices of energy within that etheric spiritual body. Upon death, the spirit body is believed to leave the physical body and enter a new physical body in the process of reincarnation, or rebirth. Chakras are generally associated with 7 areas of the body: the root, sacral, solar plexus, heart, throat, third eye and crown.
Chakra theories and practices have become popular in the west in recent years due to the New Age and Yoga movements. Today chakra meditations, chakra toning, chakra music, chakra art are part of spiritual and yogic practices in the west. Chakra visualizations are part of some yoga and meditation practices.
I have studied chakra meditation from Buddhist and Bon meditation masters. These traditions are quite different from the Hindu belief, as they do not believe in literal chakras of energy inside your body. In these traditions, chakras are not thought of as a literal fact, but as visualization tools for meditation. They are images in our mind and not to be considered as real or as a literal part of our anatomy. In Buddhist and Bon belief, to give the chakras a lot of thought is a mistake. It is considered a form of grasping, or worse, delusion, to believe they are real. They can be part of meditation practice if they are recognized as “skillful means,” techniques to help improve one’s meditation.
How do singing bowls relate to chakras? How does sound relate to chakras? How did all of it start?
In Asia, people sometimes say “the sound clears your chakras,” meaning sound and vibration is helpful to your life. You can feel the vibration of a singing bowl. It feels great and people search for ways to describe the experience. “I can feel it clearing my chakras” is a way of describing the feeling. It means they are feeling something and they like the feeling. Then they interpret their experience through their belief in chakras and spirit bodies. It’s similar to the western expression “It’s good for your soul,” or “it feeds my soul.” It’s not necessarily a literal fact, but people often take the ideas very literally.
When Westerners started selling singing bowls, this nice saying “It’s good for your chakras” was morphed into “chakra tones.” The idea that certain musical tones are good for chakras became a big marketing tool. The chakra tone idea was mainly used to sell singing bowls. The belief in chakra tones is so widespread that almost all singing bowl websites and books talk about it. In fact, I’m one of the few singing bowl sellers that does not make a claim about “chakra tones.” I will go further to say there is no such thing as chakra tones. I do not believe in a reincarnating spirit body, chakras or chakra tones.
The Buddhist idea of non-self is contrary to the idea of literal chakras. Chakras are simply a concept. They can be useful for visualization and may help meditation, but they do not exist as literal part of our anatomy or being.
In my experience and beliefs, concepts can be deluding and distracting. Chakras are a concept, sometimes a very vivid one, invented in the mind. Buddhism teaches freedom from concepts and other impositions of the mind. Due to my own beliefs, I tend to think of concepts like chakras as obstacles.
However, chakras can be useful in meditation practice. The idea can open the door to new spiritual insight. Meditation tools like chakras, symbols and mantras can directly aid spiritual development. However, they are not the end or a goal. They are only steps on the path. They should not be taken literally or seriously. When it comes to chakras and singing bowls, it’s mostly marketing. There really are no chakra tones. Sellers who claim otherwise are using the idea to sell a product. It’s a sales tactic. Period.
The truth is that singing bowls can vibrate you in surprising and unexpected ways. One bowl can vibrate many areas of the body – not just one. Forget chakra tones – the truth is much more complex and interesting.