There are many "authorities" in the sound healing community and some of them are misleading the subject by spreading unreliable teachings about the relationship between notes and chakras. I know that some of these teachers were misled themselves and they strongly believe that there is nothing wrong with the knowledge they teach. They have the best intentions, projecting so much love and care, but yet, if you choose to blindly follow the path they offer, will you discover the truth?
Unfortunately, there are also fake gurus and I will allow myself to say BE AWARE OF THE SPIRITUAL FRAUD!
*The key is, no matter what story you tell, make the buyer the hero.
When I started my research on Himalayan singing bowls, a major part of the information I was absorbing seemed to be nonsense. One of my big doubts was related to the claimed resonance of chakras to the notes of the modern Western musical scale.
Healing chakras with sound
Many websites or physical stores that offer singing bowls for sale will tell you what chakra a particular singing bowl is supposedly good to work with. Even when you travel to India, Nepal or Tibet, you may be offered the chance to purchase a supposedly "attuned healing singing bowl set" that aligns with a chakra sounds chart. Want to know the real story of chakras?
When I interviewed elder healers in Nepal and spoke to a shaman of the Bon Po tradition, they weren't familiar with the concept of the Western musical scale or relating certain notes to chakras. Yet, if you are looking for a singing bowl, someone may say to you:
"Yes sir or madam, you tell me you are having difficulties with self-expression - here is a throat chakra singing bowl!"
"Do you have a broken heart? I have just the thing for you! The note F will work with your heart chakra!"
The "authentic" Tibetan sound healing teachers will share a technique based on the Western musical scale system (frequencies of the modern scale). Moreover, the placement of the bowls around the participant's body by this "authentic" technique is nothing but a combination of consonant Perfect Fifth intervals. Another so-called "Ayurvedic" system proposes a different relationship between chakra sounds and notes. This is similar to what musicians know as a chromatic scale. However, the majority of these "authentic" teachers don't even know how to build a sequence of Perfect Fifth intervals and don't seem concerned about the presence of twelve notes, not seven. Stay with me to see what I mean by that!
If we follow the sequence of Perfect Fifths, the example of singing bowl placement for healing chakras should be:
F2, C3, G3, D4, A4, E5, B5
The singing bowl with the note F2 (F of the second octave) is placed by the feet or first chakra. The singing bowl with the note C3 (C of the third octave, forming a Perfect Fifth interval with F2) is placed next to the second chakra. The note G3 singing bowl is the next Perfect Fifth and is placed by the solar plexus chakra. D4 goes next to the heart chakra, the singing bowl with note A4 comes by the throat chakra, E5 singing bowl by the third eye chakra, and finally a high pitched sound bowl with the note B5 aligns with the crown chakra.
As you can see, the Perfect Fifths sequence starts with the note F2 (in my experience, the most commonly found big antique Jambati bowls are F2 and G2) and goes all the way to the note B5.
Singing bowls for healing chakras
Why does this system suggest starting with the note F2? Of course, there is no evidence of that in any ancient texts! The notes of the modern Western scale could not be mentioned in ancient teachings - that would be anachronistic and absurd!
Note F2 has a precise frequency which is 87.31Hz when A4 is tuned to 440Hz. For those who prefer the tuning of A4=432Hz, F2 has a value of 85.72Hz.
No matter how you look at this, having just a little doubt and common sense, it becomes clear that the ancient Tibetan tradition could not have been so specific about what frequency is assigned to the note "F." Therefore, there must be another explanation for the system described above.
Here is my insight on this issue: It is pretty rare to find an antique bowl with a lower note than F2, for example - E2 or lower. Also, if the count started with a higher note like G2 singing bowl for example, following the next six bowls with the interval of a Perfect Fifth would end up being too high - a note D in the sixth octave!
Conclusion: From the practical perspective, choosing the F2 bowl at the bottom of the sequence is just more accessible and requires less effort to put together.
With all that being said, the teachers of “authentic” Tibetan sound healing in most cases will offer you quite a different chakra healing set of singing bowls. This set may include sound bowls with the following notes: F2, C3, G2, D2, A2, E2 or E3 and B2. As you can see, these notes are not forming a sequence of Perfect Fifths. Yes, the names and the string of notes is the same, but there is one nuance - the octaves are off (way off)!
As someone who educates others and deals with the sale of singing bowls, here is what I have to say: Singing bowls that play the lower notes like F2 are big, heavy, and therefore more expensive and profitable to sell. Additionally, if you have adequate knowledge and some healthy skepticism, you may check the frequency of each singing bowl you are offered for sale and often find the frequencies are quite far from the exact pitch of the promoted note!
Yes, it may do the job, but please do not get caught with any unreliable system! And by the way, there is only five energy centers described in the ancient Tibetan medicine books!
What if all my chakras are blocked?
You may be starting to sense that I am skeptical about the authenticity of some of the methodologies being offered, and am coming across as negative. Please try to maintain your faith in humanity nonetheless, even as we review the second most common method for working with chakra sounds.
This supposedly "Ayurvedic authentic" chakra sounds method offers placement of singing bowls corresponding to the chakras in an ascending sequence: C, D, E, F, G, A, B. Notably, the octaves are not specified!
When I first read about this system, I wondered how it was even possible that the note "C" of the second octave and the same note, but three-four octaves higher, yet would activate the root chakra? I am still wondering why people believe it! Really, chakra sounds?!
Can you use one singing bowl for all chakras?
The coloration of the sound - its character, intensity, direction, and the intention behind it - not just the chakra sounds and chakra tones, and chakra frequencies, will invoke certain mental, emotional, and physical reactions.
It is much more nuanced and complex than just working with musical notes to heal aspects and areas related to the chakras. Please understand this! Do not be misled by salespeople acting like teachers!
In the article “The pulse of a singing bowl”, you will learn that each sound partial of the singing bowl has more than one frequency! No one talks about it but that's how you hear the bowl emitting beats. These beats are the result of interference between two slightly different frequencies in each partial (fundamental tone and each overtone).
Even if one of these frequencies is hitting the exact numerical value of a particular note's frequency, the other is slightly higher or lower. You never get a pitch of the exact note! There is no such thing as a chakra sound singing bowl! Also, quite often the overtones of singing bowls are dominating in intensity over the fundamental tone. In this case, if you get a bowl with the fundamental note "C" and first overtone "G" which is playing louder than the fundamental, what chakra will you treat?
A set of singing bowls tuned closely together creates a rich cascade through beating and resonance. The CHORDS and HARMONICS encourage holistic recalibration.
An experienced practitioner develops INTUITIVE discernment around combining and playing the bowls for maximal benefit. Their learned sensitivity to energetic nuances allows for custom sound healing sequences.
Chakra and Musical Note Correspondence (conclusion)
In conclusion, while there may be some similarities between the chakra system and the modern Western musical scale, it is not appropriate to refer to the chakras as the notes of the musical scale. The two systems have different origins, purposes, dimensions, and effects, and belong to different domains and contexts.
Different origins: The chakra system comes from Indian spiritual traditions, while the modern Western musical scale is a product of Western music theory.
Different purposes: The chakra system aims to understand the subtle energy centers in the body, while the modern Western musical scale is used to organize sound in a pleasing and harmonious way.
Different narratives of energy: The chakras are associated with prana, manas, buddhi and ahamkara (vital energy, energy of the mind, the energy of the intellect and the energy of the ego), while the modern Western musical scale is based on a fixed system of mechanical vibrations manifested as sound frequencies.
Different modes: The chakras are associated with different modes of consciousness, while the modern Western musical scale is associated with different musical modes.
Different systems: The chakra system is a complex system of energy centers, while the modern Western musical scale is a relatively simple system of notes.
Different interpretations: The chakra system has different interpretations in different spiritual traditions, while the modern Western musical scale is standardized.
Different levels of abstraction: The chakra system deals with abstract concepts such as energy and consciousness, while the modern Western musical scale deals with concrete sounds and musical structures.
While there may be some overlap between chakras and music theory, they have different contexts and effects. It is misleading to directly link chakras to the Western musical scale. The chakras originate from a complex metaphysical system focused on spiritual development and consciousness. The Western scale developed centuries later, based on mathematical divisions of sound frequencies.
Understanding this nuance is key to harnessing the true potential of sound healing. Respecting the differences allows us to synthesize the wisdom of both systems. With reverence and intuition, we can discover how to work with sound as a transformational tool. There is still much to be learned in the world of psychoacoustics and sound healing. Questioning assumptions with an open yet discerning mind is the path forward.
As we shed misconceptions and seek truth, the possibilities expand. The wondrous potency of singing bowls comes not from dogma or simplification, but from mindful sound inquiry. Each subtle harmonic reveals new layers of meaning. Let us honor the journey ahead with patience and care. The gifts of insight will blossom in due time.
Please share this article if you found it interesting! I welcome your feedback in the comments. More information is available in my online singing bowl courses, where we dive deep into practice. With insight, technique and inner reflection, singing bowls can guide us to states of harmony. The path has many milestones, and your experiences will grow with dedicated exploration.
The Growth of Sound Healing
As interest in sound healing grows, so does the need for clarity. Seeking truth beyond profit motives and superficial explanations will elevate the practice. Progress requires questioning assumptions, testing methods and integrating insights.
Stay curious and open. Be wary of rigid dogma. Evaluate claims with discernment. Through knowledge and experience, your skills as a sound healer will blossom.
Trust in the process. Dedication and right effort bear fruits in due time. Do not lose hope when progress seems slow. The path meanders, but leads ultimately to wisdom.
I invite you to join me on this journey of discovery. With an open heart and mind, we will unravel old myths and write new understandings. Shared sincerely, our knowledge ripples out for the betterment of all.
More information and comprehensive tutorials about this topic are offered in my online courses: "Singing Bowls For Beginners", and "Sound Healing Teacher Training".