In conversation with Antoinette Biehlmeier on her growing collection of Singing Bowls and Inner Tune Therapy.
A little bird tells me that you bought 2 Singing Bowls at the recent Heart, Mind and Body Festival. What drew you to them?
I am usually drawn to a bowl either because of its magical sound or the vibration that it creates in my body. One of the bowls had such an amazing deep soothing sound that I couldn’t resist and the other one immediately had an effect on my solar plexus…. they had to come home with me.
How many bowls are there now in your collection? Honestly.
I think about 30 plus right now.
Shree Krishna Shah and Santa Ratna Sakya, my teachers from Kathmandu who performed at the Gallery Helios Himalayan Singing Bowl Charity Concert, brought me a really big one on their recent visit- you can stand in there and then play it. Absolutely stunning!
Then there are the ones that I offer for sale… so quite a good collection. My husband luckily lost count of them.
How did you first discover the Singing Bowls?
The first time I visited the Holistic Fair at Fort Canning, I passed by Shree’s and Santa’s booth thinking “oh never mind, just another item that needs dusting “. It was only a few years later, when I had my own booth at the fair, which happened to be right opposite theirs (no coincidence, of course), that I became a bit more curious, and at the end of those two days, I came home with my first three bowls. I was really hooked – the effects of the bowls are simply amazing and I truly appreciate their magic. For me the outside world simply ceases to exist when I play them; it is so meditative and creates inner stillness so quickly.
Tell us a little bit more about Singing Bowls.
Traditionally, Singing Bowls are made from an alloy of seven metals- copper, tin, iron, lead, mercury, gold and silver. This combination produces the unique tones that enable the bowls to be used for therapy and rituals, as well as for meditation purposes. The bowls can be plain or have religious or spiritual depictions, prayers, or mantras carved on them.
These days, the more commonly found Singing Bowls are usually from Tibet, China, or India. They can be made from copper or a variety of other metals or alloys and are less likely to include precious metals. While Singing Bowls have for centuries been handmade, giving rise to the beautiful hand-beaten burnish, with the older bowls polished smoothen from years of quiet meditative play, these days there are plenty of machine-manufactured, mass-produced pieces. They just don’t have the same timbre.
How did you train to become a Singing Bowl / Inner Tune Practitioner?
I had to beg Shree and Santa for more than 2 years before they finally found the time to arrive a few days earlier in Singapore to give a workshop. I was really lucky to be taught by two very skilful teachers on how to use different bowls for healing work and also how to play the bowls for a concert. However to be honest, it takes years of practice before I can play the bowls like they do.
I love the Inner Tune Therapy sessions, where a client lies on the floor and I position 7 bowls around according to the chakras. Sometimes I add the smaller ones to bring in more harmonies. It doesn’t take long before the client drifts off into a very deep relaxed state and by which time I can hear which bowl doesn’t sound harmonious and needs to be played more often to release the corresponding area of tension in the client’s body.
Meanwhile I am confident enough to teach myself and just last year I received a little touch up by Shree to play the bowls more softly. It makes a really big difference how a bowl is stroked.
What is a typical Inner Tune Therapy session like?
The client lies fully-clothed on a mat on the floor and the Singing Bowls are placed around him, aligned with the seven major chakra points (energy centres) of the body. Each bowl has a tone which corresponds to a specific chakra. At the beginning, the bowls, or sometimes tuning forks, are struck and sung in a particular rhythmic pattern, and as I tune into the client’s energetic imbalances, intuition gradually takes over.
Sound and vibration have been used to alter brainwave states to promote deep relaxation by inviting the brain to move into the more relaxing frequencies of lower Alpha and Theta.
Besides being deeply relaxing, the sound energy harmonises the chakras, thereby balancing the person’s physical, mental and emotional wellbeing on many levels.
Clients report energy shifts during the session, altered states of awareness, sensations of a deep inner peace and tranquillity, as well as a letting go of old frozen energies and blockages. Some take the opportunity to do a little astral travel. The effects of a single Inner Tune Therapy session can last for several days.
Inner Tune Therapy can break pain reflexes, deepen breath, reduce stress, harmonise the left and right hemispheres of the brain, aid sleep and much much more.
As a therapist, how do you feel after the session?
It is always a very rewarding experience for me. As I mentioned, I lose track of time and the outside world and am totally in tune with the client, the resonance and the bowls themselves. I feel more peaceful and grounded after a session, very relaxed and much more aligned.
So if you ask me I would be more than happy to give Inner Tune sessions all day.
What are your plans for the future?
I plan to organize a workshop towards the end of the year so that we will have a few more therapists around – then perhaps I am lucky and get a Singing Bowl therapy session more often!
My aim is to visit Shree and Santa in Kathmandu next year, not only to see how the bowls are crafted, but also to learn more from them. It just came to my mind to perhaps organize a Singing Bowl Retreat with them. What an intriguing idea. If anyone reading this is interested, please get in touch with me by email, Antoinette.Biehlmeier@GalleryHelios.com.