SINGING BOWLS AND MINDFULNESS FOR CHILDREN
In the past year I have had the good fortune to attend many Singing Bowl Meditations. The group lies on mats with their heads facing a grouping Tibetan singing bowls and a Certified Practitioner of this ancient art plays the singing bowls in different sequences for about an hour helping you to enter a state of deep relaxation and healing. I have very much enjoyed the experience.
As an Infant Massage Instructor of many years, I naturally started to wonder about using singing bowls and bells with babies and children and luckily came across a beautiful article on the subject at the Teach Children Meditation site on the Internet. The writer had attended a retreat with the world renowned teacher and author, and Zen master Thich Nhat Hahn. At the retreat, one of the mindfulness meditation practices he shared was “inviting the bell to sing”. The author then thought about how that could be introduced to children as a form of meditation practice and “something we can use to help children learn mindfulness and meditation and to help improve their concentration levels.’
The author then describes the ‘bell master’ as the ‘person who is responsible for inviting the bell to sing.’ I love the idea of inviting the bell to sing. It reminds me of an idea in Japanese Acupuncture of inviting the Chi or energy to flow along the acupuncture points. The author talks about how working with a group of children, a different child each day could take their turn as the ‘bell master’. Here’s how it could go:
The bell or singing bowl is placed in front of the bell master (the child) and they tune into their breathing (slow in and out) and place their palms together in the centre of their chest which is where the energy of their heart is. The child bows to the bell, acknowledging that they are bowing to the ‘peaceful energy of the bell and the peaceful energy within them.’ Then they gently lift the bowl with both hands.
With the bowl resting in the palm of one hand (fingers outstretched like petals of a flower in full bloom,) their other hand gently uses the wooden mallet to invite the bowl to sing. So, in fact, they don’t hit the bowl, the “invite it to sing.” Focusing on their breath, they could say this little poem with their leader’s help, a poem to the bell.
“As I breathe in I notice this beautiful bell”, As I breathe out, I open my heart to the bell.” As I breathe in, I let my breath touch my heart to the bell, As I breathe out, I ask the bell to sing and touch the hearts of others with peace.”
Then, they bring the mallet gently to the bell, in an invitation to ‘awaken’. Then as they touch it again, they can hear the bell (or bowl) sing. As the bell is singing children and leader can follow the sound and imagine it taking its song of peace out into the world or following the sound into their bodies to feel peace within. Sometimes the bell is invited to sing 3 times or more.
This sounds like such a beautiful activity to do with children to help them relax and feel a sense of peacefulness for themselves and others.