Sound Off #2 – A Taser For The Monkey Mind

This is the blog-ey bit where you get to toss out whatever sound-ey sort of questions you want, and I answer them.

Kind of like a Dear Abby for sound stuff.

But with less angst. More fun. And ninjas.

We can yack it up about how this sound stuff works.

Or get all geekity about instruments.

Or talk about punk rock. It’s totally up to you.

You ask. I answer. Easy-peasy.

And, if you’re really lucky, I may bust out my Barry Manilow impression on you sometime. Prepare to be wowed. Yeah, it’s that fabulous. (At the Copa, Copacabana… The hottest spot north of Havana…)

One of the fab folks who hangs out here a lot sent me this question of much smartness:

You talk about singing bowls a lot, so obviously you really like them. What’s so special about them? And how many do you have?

I heart this question.

And I’m glad you asked it.

Because now I have an excuse to get all gushy about bowls for a second.


Not love at first sight

You’re totally right about me loving singing bowls.

I love them almost as much as chocolate. Or pompadours. Or badly produced B-grade ninja flicks.

But the first time I heard a bowl being played I wasn’t a fan.

Like not even a little.

In fact, I pretty much thought singing bowls sucked.

Because my first experience with them was completely craptastic.

Someone was playing a bowl that just sounded bad. Like fingers-on-a-blackboard-meets-cat-whose-tail-has-just-been-stepped-on kind of bad.

Every thwack of the bowl resulted in this super suck sound that had a weird metallic, dissonant edge to it. Every muscle in my body tensed up. Immediately.

And after the five minute demo was over I had the worst headache ever. I felt like someone had just punched me right between the eyes.

So it was totally cool with me if I never saw another singing bowl ever again.

Our second date went much better

But then I heard a good bowl.

This bowl wasn’t just good. It was gorgeous.

The sound totally blew me away.

It was one of those open-mouthed-gaga’ed-can’t-find-the-words kind of things.

The bowl produced this amazing splashiness of overtones and undertones and all kinds of sexy sound-ey stuff.

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.

But I also couldn’t believe how good the sound felt.

Instead of wearing my shoulders as earmuffs, I got all ooh-ey goo-ey relaxed.

It was like I was getting the best massage of my whole frakking life. And I slept better that night than I had in forever.

So I realized that all singing bowls didn’t suck. And that there was a huge difference between good bowls and bad bowls.

And that second date blossomed into a full on love affair with these shiny round nuggets of awesome.

Boxes go buhbye

So why do I actually dig singing bowls so much?

(And I’m assuming I can’t just use Uh, because they’re awesome! as an answer, right?)

Ok, for starters, singing bowls are the epitome of breaking-out-of-the-boxness.

Singing bowls that aren’t really tuned to the Western musical scale. Finding a bowl that’s a perfectly tuned C or F or G or whatever is pretty unlikely.

Which is actually one of the secrets behind their awesome-osity.

Their sound is beyond all of those neat and tidy and oh-so-confining musical categories. And to really dig in to the deliciousness of their mojo, you have to let all that stuff go.

Because their sound is so much more than that.

And that’s the same kind of awesome you get when you hang out with singing bowls.

The bowls remind you that you’re way bigger than all of the little boxes that you and other people and life try to force you into everyday.

There’s more to you than that. And that more-to-you part is where the great big awesome is found. It’s where you get all snugglefaced with your mojo.

So there’s this kind of punk rock thing happening with singing bowls.

Because they help you to say eff the boxes and the categories and all the confining stuff that keeps you feeling small.

The sound of a singing bowl gives you a chance to get hip to what freedom really tastes like.

Secret passageways

That eff-the-boxes bit can also be crazy helpful when you’re staring down stuck too.

Because being stuck is a lot like being boxed into a corner. Feeling like there’s nowhere to go. And no way around the ack.

But singing bowls have this special superpower where they create openings where there were none two seconds ago.

When stuck has you cornered, the sound of a bowl opens up a secret passageway in the wall behind you.

And so when your back’s against the wall, and stuck is breathing down your neck, you can duck into the secret passageway and ditch the stuck with the quickness.

It’s that whole freedom thing again.

Which is why hanging out with singing bowls is one of the easiest and fastest ways of saying sayonara to suck.

Sleeper holds and buffets (booyah!)

I also heart singing bowls because they put our brain in time out.

Because, I mean, seriously, most of us are always thinkingthinkingthinking.

But a good bowl can put a sleeper hold on that head stuff in a few seconds flat. They’re like a taser for the monkey mind. (Minus the ouchie electric shock part.)

A few seconds of bowl-ey goodness and the mind just goes quiet.

Which is seriously awesome. And seriously helpful too.

Taking a break from the brain stuff means you actually get to relax. I can play a bowl for 10 minutes and feel like I’ve just had eight hours of the best sleep of my life.

Stress and struggle and stuck and suck just kind of melt away. And this really gorgeous relaxed-but-weirdly-focused thing slides in to take their place.

And when your brain takes a breather, other inner bits can step forward and rock the mic.

You suddenly find yourself sitting at an all-you-can-eat buffet of inspiration. Or hanging out with some ridiculously cool insight or solution.

Your creativity kicks into overdrive and starts cooking up all kinds of gorgeousness.

Or some big blocked thing in your life isn’t blocked anymore. Because you just relaxed and gave it some room to get unstuck.

And yeah, this kind of awesome can happen in just a few minutes.

Let me count the ways

So those are three reasons why I love singing bowls like a big pile of chocolate.

  1. Because they help us to break out of the box.
  2. They’re rockstars at getting us unstuck.
  3. They give our brain a break and give our other gorgeous inner bits a chance to rock.

And, really, that’s just a tip-of-the-iceberg rap. I could go on and on and on about this.

Because I’m a nerd. And because singing bowls really are a thousand kinds of awesome.

Oh, and to answer your question about how many I have?


I actually went and counted. Because, you know, I’m dedicated like that.

Thanks for your question. And for giving me a chance to gush.

And if you’re loving all this gush-ey bowl talk, you might also dig the first installment of Sound Off where I talk about how to pick the perfect singing bowl.

What do ya wanna know?

Do you have questions about this sound stuff?
A query about one of the wild and wacky instruments that I use?
Just want to rap about something of an aural nature?

Coolness. Me too.

What are you waiting for? Get in touch.

Send me your questions. Share your musings. In the words of Information Society, tell me what’s on your mind.

Maybe your question will be included in a future Sound Off post. Which I can totally do all anonymous-like, if you want.

In case, you know, you’re enrolled in the witness protection program. Or secretly here from another planet. Or just a private-ey kind of person.

No worries. I get it.

So ask away.

You can also post your question in the comments here. That works too. Because I’m flexible like that.

Dig this?

Sign up + don’t miss a drop. Email or RSS. Take your pick, tater.

4 Responses to Sound Off #2 – A Taser For The Monkey Mind
  1. Larisa
    February 26, 2010 | 2:57 pm

    Hiya! Just want to say I loved your Sound Shifts Stuff download. Felt all these crazy-wonderful shifts happening in my brain — kind of like what happens when I get really good cranial work. Super relaxing as well. Awesome. Thanks!

    ps. loved the secret passageway image…

  2. Wulfie
    February 26, 2010 | 3:24 pm

    Great question. Great answer. Love saying buh-bye to boxes and especially love sneaky secret passages to explore. Whoot!

    64!? Can you make it around the room before the sound of the first fades just as you reach the last one? I’d like a video of that, please. 😉

  3. Fabeku
    February 26, 2010 | 4:55 pm

    @Larisa – I’m glad you dig Sound Shifts Stuff. I love that you had some crazy-wonderful shifts too. And how cool that you felt some similarities with cranial work. Awesome!

    @Wulfie – Yeah, I’m all about saying buhbye to boxes. As for the making-it-around-the-room thing… that could be tricky. And fun to try. Let me cook on that and see if I could make that happen.

  4. Josiane
    February 26, 2010 | 5:48 pm

    I *love* the ninja in the bowl pic! And I also love how obviously passionate you are about those things. It’s a very good thing you had the opportunity to get a second impression that was much better than the first one!
    .-= Josiane´s last blog ..A (huge!) shift in perspective =-.

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