Quieting the mind during meditation is very difficult — even close to impossible. But adding a sensory focal point can be very helpful in giving the brain something to fixate on besides itself. Sometimes it’s the physical sensation of breathing. Other times it’s the flickering flame of a candle. And for mindful audiophiles, it’s the calming frequency of a meditation bowl.
Meditation bowls are not necessary for an effective practice, but they can be calming to play or listen to during reflective inhales and exhales. They all have essentially the same shape and design, with size and resonance being two major factors that distinguish them from one another.
In terms of price, meditation bowls will set you back between $20 and $40, with certain larger and more elaborate versions costing hundreds or even thousands of dollars. The good news: there are plenty of affordable options we recommend that are especially great for beginners.
What the Experts Say
Dr. Jenelle Kim, a doctor of Chinese medicine and a mindfulness and meditation teacher, noted that prospective buyers should consider the size and weight of the bowl, as this can affect the sound quality and ease of use: “A larger bowl will typically produce a deeper, more resonant sound, while a smaller bowl will be higher-pitched,” she said.
Ellie Smith, an expert yoga instructor, shared that she prefers to use Tingsha bells instead, which she said have been “used in Buddhist prayer and ritual practices throughout the Himalayan region.” Tingsha bells, otherwise known as Tibetan Tingsha cymbals, are two small metallic plates connected by a string that produce a light, pleasant chime when they touch. Typically, they are hung by a joined index finger and thumb and left to hang, and a light bounce causes them to collide and produces the sound.
Tingsha cymbals, as well as items called standing bells, can be used to help signal the beginning and end of a meditation session, making them good for group work (or for those who tend to lead others when meditating).
The Best Meditation Bowls: At a Glance
Frequently Asked Questions About Meditation Bowls
How does one use a mediation bowl?
There are two ways to use a meditation bowl. The simplest is to simply strike the bowl for resonant sound. Hold the bowl with one hand, use the mallet in the other hand, and lightly hit it to produce sounds in different keys (depending on where you make contact). The other method is called rimming, and is a little harder to get right, as the user needs to use the mallet to lightly strike the bowl before circling the rim slowly. (Rimming. Really? Yes. Look, SPY didn’t name it. ) This method maintains the vibrations and sounds for a longer time period.
What are meditation bowls typically made of?
Some meditation bowls are made of a combination of different metals, while others are made of crystal. The material is honed into the shape of a bowl to produce a sound of a certain key depending on the size. Many of them sit on soft silk cushions that protect them (and the floor).
Silent Mind Singing Bowl Set
Why We Chose It: This set is crafted by local Nepalese artisans for a high-quality build and powerful sound.
Made For: Those new to using meditation bowls who want the best option.
This beautiful set comes with a four-inch singing bowl that’s easy to hold and therefore easy to play. The smaller the bowl, the better suited it is for beginners, and this one fits that bill. (It’s also small enough to travel with the user.)
This set also comes with two accessories: a striker mallet, which has a leather grip to make it easy to hold and is hand-inspected for sound quality before shipping, and a dampening pillow for quieting the sound quickly when necessary.
Ohm Singing Bowl Set
Why We Chose It: This beautiful hand-hammered meditation bowl is 3.5 inches wide, which makes it perfect for beginners looking for something small to start with.
Made For: Meditators with small hands.
The Ohm Singing Bowl Set has a 3.5-inch hand-hammered meditation bowl that still produces a stunning sound despite its small size. It also comes with a hand-sewn cushion.
Raleahih Singing Bowl 2-Pack
Why We Chose It: Different-sized meditation bowls produce different sounds, so this variety pack gives the user more options for playing.
Made For: People who want sound variety.
This two-pack comes with a 4-inch bowl and a 3.5-inch bowl, both of which produce sounds at different pitches and in different keys. They complement one another design-wise and can be played separately or simultaneously with the included mallet and dampening cushion.
Himalayan Healing Singing Bowl Set
Why We Chose It: This bowl comes in a variety of sizes, but its biggest draw is its budget price tag.
Made For: People who don’t want to overspend.
This bowl set actually comes in three different sizes: 3, 3.5, and 4 inches. This means it’s a lot easier to find the perfect size for each person, but SPY’s favorite thing about the set is that the 3-inch bowl is just under $20, which is about half the price of many of the other options on this list.
Himalayan Bazaar Tingsha Bells
Why We Chose It: Tingsha bells are a good alternative to meditation bowls, and these ones are excellent.
Made For: Meditators who don’t have the space or interest in storing a meditation bowl.
A lot of people think of meditation as a practice of disciplined restriction. One is supposed to cut out the outside world, remove external stimuli, and just focus within. This can work for some, but for others, it can feel quite suffocating. Props and tools like meditation bowls can help assuage these feelings and give someone something to focus on that’s still meditative in nature. Playing, listening, looking, and feeling can all happen during a mindfulness practice, and meditation bowls are one tool that can help someone be successful.