Singing Bowl

by stryson

One of the big changes I’ve made in my life over the past year is beginning to meditate. I attend a class weekly at the local YMCA, and I occasionally attend retreats, book studies, and other sessions at my teacher’s studio. This has done all sorts of wonderful things for my own psyche, patience, and blood pressure, but it’s also crept into my teaching. I’ve realized its influence in the classroom several times, but this week, it has been blatantly apparent, with good reason. I’ve brought my Tibetan singing bowl into class.

This bowl is hand-made by Tibetan Buddhist monks in Nepal. Its primary purpose is to mark beginnings and endings ceremonially and to support one’s relaxation and return to the present moment during meditation. The bowl produces a beautiful, multi-tonal sound when it rings or “sings” – a sound produced by running the mallet around the rim, causing sound to well up from within the bowl. This sound actually works on your brain in some way that is not entirely clear to me. If my memory serves, it’s the alpha waves that the sound works on, which contributes to its ability to soothe and calm.

In any case, my sixth graders were reading a story on Monday about hieroglyphics. After a great conversation about alphabets other than our own, I brought in my singing bowl, which has a mantra engraved on the side.

Singing Bowl

I, of course, expected the kids to have a lot of questions about the bowl. I wasn’t expecting them to be as completely and utterly fascinated by it as they are, though! I’ve had multiple requests from each of my classes to bring it in each day moving forward. Today, my benchmark class was having a test, and I began the class by explaining what we were going to do and ringing the bowl to signal the beginning of class. I have never seen that group so composed; children that are normally off the walls took the entire test without incident. Across the board, I found that the kids were calmer and more collected with beginnings and endings ritually marked by a ringing of the bowl. It’s been an interesting experiment in adding an alternative structure to my class, and I’m going to continue it going forward.

The aide I have in with my third graders said that she once wanted to bring in a singing bowl to class at the school where she was formerly employed, but they wouldn’t allow it. I suppose they shied away from it because of the possible religious overtones associated with the bowl, or maybe for the politically uncomfortable situation with Tibet. I’d be interested to hear their reasoning, but unfortunately, I’ll just have to wonder. Regardless, I’m excited for the new element added to my classroom.

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4 Comments to “Singing Bowl”

  1. Interesting! I hope you have continued success with the singing bowl in class. Do you think the ritual marking of beginnings and endings is more than just the novelty of the bowl and ritual? It will be interesting to see if it maintains its effect over student behavior.

    • Thanks! I hope I continue to have success, as well. It’s really too early to say, I think, if it’s just the novelty or not. I’m going to continue incorporating it into my routine, and I think it’ll be interesting to revisit the topic in, say, May, and see if it’s continuing to have an effect.

  2. What’s the mantra? 🙂

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