Yogis have used them for years, and since the 1970s, their popularity has only grown.
They’re crystal singing bowls and they are used to facilitate meditation, various modes of holistic healing, and even as a supplement to mainstream medicine.
Maria Maier is a Reiki practitioner who uses crystal singing bowls frequently in therapeutic sessions. On October 10 at 1 p.m., Ms. Maier, an East Hampton resident, will bring several of her crystal singing bowls to Shelter Island’s Youth Center for an afternoon relaxation and meditation session sponsored by the town’s Recreation Department.
In a recent phone interview, Ms. Maier explained how crystal singing bowls work.
“I drag a striker with rubber end on it around the bowl,” she said. “You can also tap the bowl to get sounds. Mostly, I use two bowls and blend the notes together.”
The process is not unlike making a wine glass sing by wetting the rim and running your finger around it to create a ringing note. Crystal bowls make a similar sound, but one that is more haunting, resonates longer, and is sustained with vibrations that fill a room. When used in conjunction with multiple crystal bowls of various sizes, a range of notes results that can blend or contrast with one another.
“I often use C and G for calming down the nervous system,” said Ms. Maier. “They are also called intention bowls because they work well when you set an intention. I always set an intention and ask people to set one as well.”
Oddly enough, the crystal singing bowls used today are a by-product of Silicon Valley. They were first created by the computer industry to grow silicon which is used in micro-chips, and they are made from crushed quartz crystal heated to very high temperatures.
“Somebody realized the bowls sounded musical notes,” said Ms. Maier. “Some notes are more rare than others. I attended a sound workshop and one of the people who gave a class was an oncologist from the city who used the crystal bowls in his practice. He said crystal bowls are ancient and hand-carved ones have been found.”
For next Tuesday’s session, Ms. Maier explained that she will have participants lie on the floor or sit in a comfortable chair and simply listen as she creates notes on the various bowls.
“Their experience is I’m playing the bowls and I pair the notes in a certain way,” she said. “Pythagoras paired certain bowls for certain body parts and meanings, so I follow his scale. I also use an Aryuvedic scale that pairs notes to different energy centers, called chakras.
“Any bowl will go where you need to go, they can unblock and block. The crystals store, transfer and amplify energy,” said Ms. Maier who notes that because the bowls foster a sense of relaxation, many people are now using them for meditation and healing,
“I believe in the relaxed state is where we heal,” she said. “There are scientific studies showing the autoimmune system, the nervous system and the endocrine system are improved when we relax.”
That may be why so many holistic therapies are gaining a foothold in mainstream medicine. Massage, acupuncture, Reiki and other modalities are found to be helpful when used in conjunction with traditional medicine. In addition to Reiki, Ms. Maier is certified in vibrational massage therapy and is a certified Acutonics level I student practitioner —which is centered on the applied use of therapeutic sound vibration.
Locally, Ms. Maier offers small group crystal singing bowl meditations at her home in East Hampton, and each Saturday afternoon, she’s at the Montauk Salt Cave. She also works with a grief counselor at Southampton Hospital and plans to conduct crystal singing bowl sessions there as well.
“The grieving population is one I’d like to do more work with,” Ms. Maier said.
When asked who she thinks might benefit from Tuesday’s session on the Island, Ms. Maier said the meditation is ideal for those who are looking to reduce their anxiety and stress level, relieve symptoms of depression or who are simply curious about crystal singing bowls.
“I’m hoping to help people who want to de-stress,” she said. “We live in a world where we’re over-stimulated and the fight or flight mode seems to have become the norm. The polarization right now is frightening.”
Maria Maier’s Crystal singing bowl meditation is Tuesday, October 10 at 1 p.m. at the Shelter Island Youth Center. The session is for ages 18 and up and the fee is $10 per person. Participants are encouraged to bring a mat if they have one. For more information or to register, contact Bethany Ortmann, Recreation Director, at (631) 749-0309.