May 31, 2016
Egypt – notes from another land and time. I still don’t know how to write or speak of this, almost 6 months later. Nothing captures the scale I met on all fronts: the temples are immense, the statues colossal, the hieroglyphics prolific.
All the photographs I saw before I went did not prepare me. All the photographs I took capture only glimpses. I am left dumb. I have begun to learn to play odes to the gods and goddesses with the bowls.
However, it may be unfair and perhaps untrue to say that I have no words, when here I am typing away. How can I convey the sense of wonder and awe that I met again and again? Imagine being at the Grand Canyon one day, in the Giant Redwood Forest the next and at Niagara Falls the day after. That’s the sense of majesty and grandeur I experienced every day I was there.
Entering the Temple of Karnak in Luxor the first day, I said goodbye to my mind and simply tried to soak up every inch of those columns made to resemble giant papyrus plants seven stories high. I found myself wandering in spaces where I felt as small as a quark and just as charmed. Energy and matter seemed to meet and spiral; a quality of timelessness pervaded it all.
Perhaps these expressions will serve as a transmission of the energies, so that you may share in the experience, which has not left me, only expanded.
Or perhaps it is conveyed best with the singing bowls I love so much. Here’s a clip from the Ode to Hathor.
June 23, 2014
Jambatis are the big singing bowls. They have a deeper, richer sound because of their size. Until December, I owned just one at a 10 3/4 inch diameter, which sang a throaty bass OM. I had three others at 9+ inches, and although beautiful in their quality of sound, they never had the depth of this larger one. Just for the record, I generally consider jambatis to be bowls that are more than 8 inches in diameter, with 10 1/2 to 12 inches being standard. Of course, they come larger than that too!
Anyway, a favorite dealer came across one of a quality he had not seen in a long time and offered it to me. This, just before Christmas, so how could I resist the gift? The bowl, was/is as amazing as he had said. He had a few others for sale, but none like mine. So he sent those, and I fell in love with another one. Luckily, two were of a different construction — some of the thinnest of these bowls I’ve ever seen, and they had a vibrato that was unbelievable. Those literally flew out the door. But one he sent I fell in love with, and it stayed. So I received more, and my own collection began to grow too. Now, I have six, and the result is the biggest change in my practice since the gem crystal bowls arrived.
I took four of them to a recent concert meditation. Usually I only use them in individual sessions, because they are monsters for me to carry. But this special occasion warranted their presence. So, here’s what happens when combined with the gem crystal singing bowls. They offer a point of settling, grounding, focus. In the midst of beautiful melodies and entrancing chords, they present an opportunity to embody all of that and more. It’s this quality of centering with and embodying the sound that has struck me so profoundly.
I have always liked the warmth of the Himalayan bowls and appreciate that quality with the gem crystal bowls I play. Now, I have a new point of reference and so do my audiences.
October 10, 2013
I’m wrapping and packing for the Universal Light Expo in Columbus, which opens Sat. Oct 12 at 9 am, which means most of us vendors are putting our booths together on Friday afternoon. I ordered some gorgeous, antique Remuna bowls (see previous post) and some new cast or turned bowls, which are a bit of a departure for me. the new bowls I found have good quality sound and are in a lower price point for my customers. Finding any bowl of a decent size (5 to 6 inches) that I can retail under $80 is a challenge. Costs are understandable since the price of metals is up. I remember buying my first bowl at ULE from the Tibetan monks. The hall was so noisy I couldn’t even hear the bowl in my hand, but I could feel its vibration move up my arm. I loved it. That was the start. This feels like only the early middle, so who knows what will happen next?! Anyway, come to the Expo yourself, it’s colorful, crazy and loaded with crystals (and some terrific bowls!). Lots of free seminars are available (including one on singing bowls at 5:30 pm on Sat.). The Buddhist monks will be making a sand mandala throughout Sat. and Sun. Good food. Let’s see, how else can I entice you? Did I mention beautiful, wonderful, magical singing bowls?
October 2, 2013
Guess what just arrived? Oh, I kind of gave it away in the title. But no matter, Remuna bowls, are amazing whether you already know the punch line or not. The bowls that arrived are 18th or 19th century and one is even a 17th century bowl (but it’s not giving any historic secrets away).
What’s so amazing about these bowls? It’s their shape. They’re not straight up and down like a regular thadobadi, nor are they shallow and wide-mouthed like a manipuri. These bowls have a big, belly at the base and then turn inward to be more concave, which amplifies the sound.
I always find these bowls rich with vibration and resonance. Easy to play as well! Of the bowls I have and sell, these consistently have one of the smoothest rims. The shape seems to help beginners too. However, these bowls are well worth the price for novices or connoisseurs.
If you haven’t had the opportunity to play a Remuna, stop by and enjoy trying your hand at one. I’ll be at a couple of expos in the Cleveland area and down at the Columbus Universal Light Expo on Sat., Oct 12 and Sun., Oct 13. I also Skype, so distance doesn’t matter either.
Three Remuna beauties sitting on a zafu ready to meditate.
Remuna with Sanskrit inscription
March 27, 2013
I hear sounds that others don’t seem to. This has been happening for a long time. I was a child when I first heard them. At that time, the sounds were high-pitched. One would laser through my head in a line from my right temple to my left and out again. Another type of sound would come into my right ear at an angle. It seemed to have a different pitch.
People tell me that they have heard sounds. Some think it’s tinnitus. Some have received that diagnosis but don’t believe it or feel there’s more information to be had.
I suggest that people listen. This was the guidance I was given more than ten years ago. Over the years, the sounds have changed for me. I have heard them as bells, similar to the crystal bowls I play. Now I have the sense of gentle waves over my entire body, not just focused on my ears. And, as I say to audiences, “We hear with our whole body, not just our ears. Think of a jackhammer.”
Our bodies respond to vibrations all the time. We’re meant to, we’re tuned to resonate. But we are such a visual culture, and we stay in our heads so much that we don’t allow ourselves to relax and listen and feel.
Why not give yourself ten minutes even, to slow down. Listen to your breath or your heartbeat, the wind outside. See how quiet your home really is. Or is the fridge humming, the furnace or air conditioner blowing? Are there birds lilting in the yard, windchimes pinging on the porch, mowers trimming the lawn next door, cars skidding down the street?
And what do you savor in this moment of greater quiet?
December 7, 2012
As always the bowls have more to teach me. Sometimes, it happens when I play them. At other times, people’s responses to hearing them create new discoveries for me. And sometimes, it’s in the phone calls or emails I receive.
Lately, more people are calling. They find me online, someone gives them my name and number, or they were at a concert. I realize I have a public presence now more than any time in the past, but still it surprises me. And I think, what do I have to give them?
They call for a number of reasons — they want to buy a bowl; they want to know more about them; they just feel a connection… the list goes on. Of course, I enjoy that they’re interested in one of my favorite subjects, and I’m intrigued by their questions. Sometimes I have some helpful information. Sometimes we just share the question and the not knowing. Sometimes I just listen, because that’s what’s needed.
The bowls have enhanced my listening. Once you realize that you “hear” with your whole body (as the bowls taught me), not just your ears, listening takes on another level of meaning and quality.
What a small and monumental state at the same time listening is. And what a gift in a busy season.
May you listen well to what is said and also what can be heard and to what is not said and may not be audible. And may you receive the same.
October 18, 2012
I am always amazed by the bowls. First, their composition — whether they are the gem-infused ones or the old metal ones — is a wonder. With the gem-infused ones, the gems or metals must be crushed with the quartz and then fired at 4,000 degrees in a centrifugal mold. And for the metal ones, since I use hand-forged ones, the alloy has to be “raised” into a bowl with countless hammerings and heatings to keep the metal pliable enough to form. Then, once we get beyond compostion, it is the sounds they create that just stop me.
Sometimes now I try to play with a bit more silence in between notes or chords I create. I want to linger and listen and absorb. And isn’t silence a sound all its own? Or do we even know silence?
Of course, the gorgeous melodies at this time of year just reinforce all the colors outside and their concerts. I learned recently that the active production of chlorophyll, which makes the leaves look green to us, only “masks” the colors underneath. Those colors are there all along, but until the chlorophyll production slows, due to reduced sunlight, the true colors don’t emerge. Some wonderful metaphors there!
In any case, I am just glad to play the bowls and surprised by the offering and opportunity the Universe gave me with them. Not generally a very humble person, I am pretty astonished that after I play my usual feeling is one of humility, that it wasn’t me playing, it was all of us who created that resonant experience.
March 8, 2012
It was a beautiful Saturday morning, the kind where time seems to spread out before you like a crisp white tablecoth with the possibility of delicious things to appear. And delicious things did appear in the form of sounds. A new mandala had come forth late last summer for a cancer retreat group, a few days before I performed it. The mandala had clearly made itself known so that I would play it for this group. Quite lovely and somewhat more complex in its pattern, it felt both calming and inspirational. Something about it made me think of a lullaby, with its unmistakable soothing quality.
I’m sure there are sound musical structural reasons why lullabies can magically lull even anxious babies into ease, but with my lack of musical background, that is lost on me. Still, it’s not tough to notice when a pattern is comforting.
So, I was a bit surprised when on this wonderful Saturday morning, a similar pattern emerged. After it did, I realized I would be playing for a corporate audience that week on Valentine’s Day and had been asked to play notes that resonated with the heart. Well, this mandala did — it offered comfort. And I think this to be a time when comfort is sorely needed.
These two sound mandalas are reflections to me that I have calmed down and am not in the rush I once was. I’m finding this ease very beneficial. What better way to open one’s heart?
February 29, 2012
Was it a month ago I was in sunny Tucson — looking at antique singing bowls? True enough.
I was on a quest to see what I could find at the International Gem and Mineral Show. I knew of one company that was often there, so I thought there had to be more. I wanted the best for the people I meet who are looking to connect with singing bowls. The first day there I was disappointed. One woman had some large bowls, but they weren’t that well-made, and she wanted too much for them. Just like Goldilocks, the next bowls I found were too cold.
Finally at the end of the second day, I found some I liked. When the third day’s shopping began, one booth had such a fabulous selection that I just sat down and started playing every single bowl this lovely young Nepalese woman had.
In the first hour, she offered me a cushion to sit on. After the second hour, she brought me hot water. And when I finally showed her the 27 bowls I’d chosen, she asked if I had a car. I didn’t, but I was only about a mile away. So, with my backpack and a couple of bags I felt I could get them to my hotel in two trips, which is what I did. (Although my arms complained the next day.)
Choosing bowls was fascinating. Playing each one and listening to its voice was a great pleasure to me. It was only when I couldnit choose all them, that decision-making got tough. Still, I made my decisions, schlepped ’em back to the room, and was thrilled to have so many beauties.