I was involved in meditation and Tibetan Buddhism in the late 1970s before I immersed myself in Zen Buddhism and astrology. Tibetan meditation and singing bowls were certainly fringe at that time, but have become part of relaxation and therapeutic methods, along with the use of gongs. Using the bowls and gongs is even found in many public schools.
The widespread adoption of Mindfulness and other forms of Eastern-based meditation are bringing related practices such as the singing bowls and gongs closer to the mainstream. The article below was in the May 4, 2018 print edition of the Washington Post.
Quote==Never heard of the ancient sound-healing practice? The relaxing musical presentations, which predate Christ and have been scientifically linked to reductions in stress and anxiety, are becoming more popular in the United States, likely linked to the country’s increased interest in health, wellness, meditation and mindfulness.==End quote
Notice the words “ancient” and “healing” combined in the excerpt above, a phrase often used as an attempt to give validity to a spiritual practice or spiritually based form of healing. These two words offer a perceived credibility due to the culture’s false belief that anything deemed ancient must be valid, and anything connected to healing must be tried or explored, even absent any medical or scientific basis. However, since we are in a time when the denial of objective truth is the norm, those standards no longer matter, and, in fact, are often dismissed or even denounced.
Note that these practices are said to “predate Christ.” Why mention Christ? First, it emphasizes that the practice is truly ancient; secondly, it is likely a subtle bashing of Christianity to indicate that there are valid forms of healing possibly equal to or even superior to the healing ministry of Christ who might be viewed as an imitator or student of Eastern beliefs and practices. In fact, this has been alleged. Or it is an implication that whatever Christ did is not necessary since previous peoples had already discovered these alleged tremendous healing secrets.
The problem is that Tibetan Singing Bowls and gongs were never meant for healing. They were designed and are used now for spiritual purposes, grounded in the belief that these vibrations have a spiritual effect, and that the vibrations themselves are sacred.
Other words in the article to note include ‘”wellness” and “mindfulness,” which are used to market primarily spiritually established methods. The Washington post reporter visits a meditation place, Recharj, which is a block from the White House, goes through a session of the singing bowls, and then interviews two men who led the meditation sessions. These men own a meditation company in Virginia called Human Activation.
Excerpt==“We have companies approaching us asking to help them integrate meditation into their wellness programming.”
…Every meditation is different, and the number of bowls used can range from 10 to 40. Selection of bowls also varies depending upon which chakra, or energy meridian system in the body, we are focusing on that day. For example, if someone wants to have a grounding meditation, we use bowls that primarily resonate the C note because it affects that lower chakra. If they are looking for a heart-opening session, we select bowls that resonate the F note.”==End excerpt
Note that the selection of bowls is supposedly related to which chakra they decide to target that day. Chakras, which are invisible and have no scientifically or physically-determined existence, originate in Hinduism and are thought to be wheels of energy (not physical) in the body ranging from the pelvic floor to the top part of the head (though this latter point is sometimes considered a culmination point and not a chakra). Tibetan Buddhism retained many Hindu concepts and practices, more so than other forms of Buddhism.
The chakras are considered to be portals for the kundalini, an energy believed to be coiled at the base of the spine which must be aroused to travel through supposed invisible channels, entering each chakra. This is connected to progress toward enlightenment. Chakras actually do not exist, but those who believe in them and do meditation or yoga can have powerful experiences that give credence to those beliefs.
The so-called “energy meridian system” alluded to in the article, is an integral part of Taoist views of the body, with no proven biological basis.
Since chakras and experiences with them are tied to worship of Hindu deities as well as, in this case, Tibetan Buddhist deities, these experiences are dangerous and are not from God. Although Buddhism does not acknowledge a supreme creator God, Tibetan Buddhism possesses belief in deities stemming from Hindu influence as well as the indigenous animistic religion of Tibet, Bon.
The reporter refers to a study that using singing bowls is better than meditation so I went to that link at goo.gl/zTMcf1 only to discover the study used only 51 participants who did two 12-minute sessions of the singing bowls or only silence, followed by a 20-minute direct relaxation session. This supposedly showed that those who did the singing bowls had lower blood pressure, but this is a test with a small number of people and was short term. Moreover, there are other ways to lower one’s blood pressure.
The Human Activation company has a website referring to inventor Nikola Tesla (d. 1943) and quoting him in order to make the singing bowl meditation seem scientific. The New Age is always trying to gain scientific credibility. Many New Age practices disguised as scientific ones often refer to Tesla. However, Tesla is not as great as he is often made out to be. See “Debunking the Cult of Tesla” at Metabunk.org and “The Cult of Nikola Tesla” at Skeptoid.com). Also, many misappropriate Tesla’s work and ideas in pseudoscientific claims.
There is a distinction between the physical effects of measurable vibrations (such as those found with radio waves and sound) versus vibrations alleged to have spiritual effects or to be spiritual in nature. However, the word “vibration” does not indicate by itself which meaning is being used, so context is crucial.
When a claim is made to diagnose or heal via emitting or detecting unseen and unquantifiable energies, forces, frequencies, or vibrations, especially with no objective verifying data, you have entered New Age, occult, and/or pseudoscientific territory. This is also true when a healing claim is being made for electromagnetic vibrations. This is especially true if such machines or methods are used by a Naturopath or chiropractor, neither of which is practicing medicine. However, these and other spiritually rooted practices are being accepted under the New Age category of “wellness.”
There is a vast pseudoscientific field founded on the discredited field of Radionics (such as the Rife machine) claiming to diagnose or treat illnesses with machines that read “vibrations” or “frequencies.” These machines are found under a variety of names, with new ones popping up regularly. These methods have been thoroughly debunked and yet still attract a population increasingly open to pseudoscience. These machines thrive in the alternative industry which is rooted in spiritual beliefs rather than scientific or medical facts.
Why Not Use Tibetan Singing Bowls?
The Tibetan Bowls movement draws from Tibetan Buddhism (which includes the animistic Bon religion), Hinduism, and Taoism, a veritable Eastern/New Age spiritual stew.
For the Christian: Is it possible to use the Tibetan Singing Bowls just for relaxation and avoid spiritual effects? It may be, but why do this? There are other ways to relax. And why use this method since it honors the Eastern spirituality undergirding it?
For the non-Christian: Relaxation and feeling peaceful is always temporary. There is no method that can give a lasting peace or total healing. Eastern spirituality teaches that it is all on you to spiritually progress and free yourself from what is termed a false reality, perhaps necessitating thousands of lifetimes or rebirths. There are no clear answers as to what lies after death, or at the end of the alleged spiritual progression. Only one, Jesus Christ, was able to be on earth totally at peace with and at one with the Creator God, fully God and fully man. Willingly, Jesus took on the suffering and penalty for sins on the cross, bodily resurrected and ascended to God the Father. Forgiveness and peace with God is offered to all who believe in him.
“I have come as Light into the world, so that everyone who believes in Me will not remain in darkness.” John 12:46
“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8
“For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.” John 6:40