I've used dozens of different meditation bells over the years. As a meditation music composer, and as someone who has been practicing meditation for a long time, I've amassed a collection of over 100 different bells, singing bowls and gongs.
On this page I hope to share a little of what I have learned about how to use bells for meditation, and I'll offer some essential tips on selecting the right bell for you.
1. As a way to start and finish a meditation session. A few bell strikes can be used to add a sense of ceremony to the meditation session.
2. As a focal point for meditation. The bell is struck or rubbed repeatedly to provide a sound that the listener can concentrate their attention on.
3. As a space clearing device. The bell is struck in a ceremonious manner prior to the meditation session in order to ward off negative energies and create an atmosphere of purity that encourages deeper meditation.
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Let's get to know some of the different kinds of meditation bells - what they sound like, and what they are best used for.
(Often called a Tibetan prayer bells)
When you knock together the two bells of a Tingsha, you get a wonderful, bright bell sound that can sustain for a surprising length of time - up to 30 seconds in some cases.
Smaller Tingshas provide a very thin, but very pure sound, whereas larger ones, which can be quite heavy for their size, will have a lower tone that sustains for longer.
Because the two bells of a Tingsha are usually slightly out of tune with each other, the frequencies they emit interact in interesting ways to create sounds that are quite hypnotic. No two tingshas are ever the same.
Tingsha are great for space clearing and for the start/finish of a meditation session.
Tibetan Bell and Dorje
(Often called a Buddhist bell)
These are probably the most recognizable and most widely available meditation bell in the world today. These bells can be struck with the Dorje, producing a very typical bright bell sound, or they can be stroked with a smooth wooden stick in a circular motion around the rim so as to make them "sing". These bells are hand made, so the imperfections in their construction sometimes produce a bell sound that is a little harsh and inharmonic - it's an organic sound that some people find a little "off key", but is often favoured amongst traditionalists.
Modern Meditation Bells
While Tibetan bells and Tingshas are traditional choices for meditation, modern bells have something to offer that these older bell styles do not.
What is it?
They often have a much purer sound with a more more pleasant harmonic structure.
Now I am certainly not saying that modern bells are "better", I am simply saying that you should not rule out modern bells when it comes to meditation rituals!
Modern bells are usually free from imperfections in their shape and are balanced in their weight. This usually results in a bell that will ring out for a longer period of time, and may have a "sweeter" overall tone.
Having said that, modern bells vary wildly in the quality of their construction, their overall weight and the pitch that they emit when struck or stroked. Let your ears be your guide when choosing a bell that's right for you!
Ancient Meditation Bells
So called "ancient bells" like the one shown above are usually poor imitations of the real thing. Most of these bells are completely new, and are simply constructed in a way that makes them look old. In my experience they usually have a clunky sound with very little sustain. These types of bells do make a basic ritualistic sound, but they are unlikely to satisfy you if you like the sound of a beautiful ringing bell.
Like the pure sound of meditation bells?
You'll love our Mindfulness Bell recordings!
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Article by Christopher Lloyd Clarke from www.The-Guided-Meditation-Site.com.