Know thyself: The healing power of singing bowl

Robert Austin plays the singing bowls in the Naples Salt Cave.

Robert Austin plays the singing bowls in the Naples Salt Cave. / Nancy Loughlin/Special to The News-Press
Written by Nancy B. Loughlin


After February’s Austin Marathon, my knee looked like a blowfish.

Bending my leg became a nightmare. After a visit to the doctor, a prescription of anti-inflammatories, ice bags, massage therapy and a bottle of Aleve, there was little improvement.

Then I tried singing bowls, and the blowfish left the building.

Singing bowls, either crystal or Tibetan metal bowls, are staples in yoga and meditation. The bowls are tuned to different sound frequencies. When struck, they sing notes that align with the body’s energy centers.

On March 22, the Center of Eternal Light in North Fort Myers hosted Robert Austin for a singing bowl concert. It was more like a slumber party.

People looking for relaxation and healing lay on the floor jumbled with blankets and pillows. After dimming the lights, Austin filled the room with the vibrations of many bowls, the didgeridoo, bamboo wands and bells.

The bowls’ chimes echo; the vibrations enter the body. When injured or suffering from disease, there is a lack of physical harmony. All matter has a vibration, a pulse, and the pure bowls can refine that vibration when it is out of sync. Austin calls it a tune-up.

“There is an intelligence that comes with the bowl. If you recognize it, it will speak to you,” Austin said.

I told Austin about my knee troubles. He said that the injury was in the past. I learned my lesson. It was time to let it go. He placed my feet inside the largest bowl filled with packing peanuts. As he played the bowl, I felt the vibration moving up my calf and into my kneecap, the tremors coaxing a gentle freedom in the inflammation and in my obsession.

The following day, I listened to my favorite singing bowl recordings (Xumantra and Chuck Jonkey), and as I listened, I reminded myself of my own power to heal and release. I attended a second bowl concert in the Naples Salt cave that night. In the small room lit with salt lamps, the bowls and bells resonated, and I buried my right knee in the pink Himalayan salt.

Even with their New Age mystique, the singing bowls have worked their way into mainstream healing. Dr. Mitchell Gaynor, author of several books, including “The Healing Power of Sound,” has integrated chanting and singing bowls into his New York oncology practice. Dr. Mehmet Oz, Dr. Andrew Weil and Dr. Deepak Chopra have all embraced singing bowls for their contributions to health, healing and harmony. Their tranquil, tiny vibrations help break the stress cycle.

At the end of the concert, I sat up, brushed the salt off my knee, and sat cross-legged for the first time in weeks.

I’m now a bowl believer.

For more information visit

— Nancy B. Loughlin is a writer, yogi, teacher and runner in Fort Myers. She can be reached at

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