So practicing every day since I got my Tibetan singing bowl has taught me several things: its not as easy as it seems, there are muscles in your hands that can ache, how you hold the bowl is supremely important and, seemingly contrary – the less I grip the mallet but the more consistent the pressure, the better.
Everything yoga has taught me is in some manner about letting go. Much of what I’ve tried to pass along in this blog is about letting go. Learning the singing bowl has again reinforced that to me.
The first day I picked up the bowl, I had no expectations, some typed instructions and some YouTube videos. I made that bowl sing immediately and thought that it was all uphill from there. Well, the next day I thought about everything and, of course, couldn’t get the bowl to hum. I added a little meditation to my practice routine. I brought out my rose quartz mala – rose quartz opens the heart chakra, which is where I feel I need to play from; it helps to balance the emotions, thereby keeping me less frustrated; and it is used to raise self-esteem, which being horrifically unmusical, I appreciated.
Rose quartz mala in hand, I began to meditate for as long as I could. The first day or so there was a focus issue, then the focus came back (almost like muscle memory) but life would interfere. One overcast, drizzly morning, when the house was very low energy, I picked up my mala and went through it in its entirety, sat for a few moments then picked up the bowl. I held it directly out from my heart and picked up the mallet. I was holding it differently, less of a grip but it somehow felt more controlled and I held the bowl in my flat left hand. My mind was clear and I had no expectations or frustrations. From there it just flowed.
Sometimes it frustrates me, sometimes it amuses me, sometimes it comforts me ….. but the more I learn, the more that I keep coming back to a few basic, recurring precepts of yoga. Today’s happens to be exactly this – the less I grip and clench and hold on, the softer and easier everything becomes. In a class when I reach my first child’s pose, sometimes my low back is not prepared to release and I end up hovering a couple of inches over my heels, causing pressure on my neck, frustration and the lack of release into that long spine stretch. But when I am able to stop gripping, child’s pose becomes easier and more enjoyable. When I hold on to an emotion, when I grip it tightly to my heart, it does not resolve anything, but when I am able to soften and allow myself to feel and let go of unneeded emotions, well – it’s win-win.
Lately circles have been resonating with me – I see circular patterns in the breath, in life, in the routine of my day – so to find that the more I learn leads me back to the paths I’ve been following reinforces to me that I am learning to let go and live more freely. I don’t quite feel like I’m going in circles yet, because I keep picking up and gaining knowledge that is simply taking me back to a beginning. But I bring a little something new with me each time I return, and today, it was the beautiful sound of a singing bowl that I held very loosely near my heart and to some extent, played me.