Ann James taps the side of a large metal bowl, then runs a padded mallet around the rim to create a rich pulsing vibration that resonates through the air at Down to Earth in Beaumont.
Scattered throughout the room, five participants in her Tibetan Singing Bowls session lie or sit, eyes closed, breathing steadily as they take in the healing tones and vibrations.
Dena DeYoung sits cross-legged in her seat, hands in a lotus position. David Smith lies atop an inflated pool raft. He says it enhances the experience and makes him feel like he’s floating.
They start with deep breathing and contemplation of personal intentions. Then the healing begins.
James begins playing the bowls one by one. Each produces a note that corresponds to a specific energy center, or chakra, in the body. She carefully watches the group as she plays, attuned to signs of reaction to the notes that indicate a need for attention and balance in a chakra.
From there, her play is intuitive, driven by the energy she experiences and the needs of the participants. She moves among the different sized bowls, sometimes striking, sometimes working the rims. The room soon becomes filled with layered waves of sound.
Each struck note rings out amid an undercurrent of pulsing vibrations. At times she turns her mallet upon a large gong suspended on a frame behind her, alternately adding a metal bell and tingshas. The gong is used for grounding, and the tingshas help to clear energy that has been released, James said.
The metal, or Tibetan style, singing bowls are part of a centuries-old practice of energy healing. “The goal is to open up each chakra note by note, then to bring whatever (individual) energies need to be brought out to achieve balance,” James said.
The power of sound and vibration was espoused by physicist and electrical engineer Nikola Tesla, who said, “If you want to find the secrets of the universe, think in terms of energy, frequency and vibration.” The quote is featured on James’ Mystical Energies Facebook page and website.
Midway through the session, James circulates the room, placing specific bowls next to the participants so that they not only receive the healing benefits of the sound but experience the vibrations, as well.
After more than an hour, James’ playing slows. She sets down the mallets, ordering them next to the bowls spread before her. A slow smile spreads across her face as she finishes and waits for participants to stir.
They share their experiences, Ann telling them which bowls she had placed next to them to address an imbalance in the corresponding chakra.
DeYoung says “the sound vibration is amazing.” She said the first time she experienced the singing bowls “was the first time I ever closed my eyes and saw colors. And not just colors, but an array of colors.” For the first time in her life, she says she now dreams in color.
For James, the singing bowls are a part of the spectrum of tools she uses as an energy healer. She also is certified as a practitioner and educator in Quantum Touch and Reiki.
James worked as a nutritionist before discovering the Japanese healing modality of Reiki, which involves using energy and heart-based healing touch to address stress and pain. “When you alleviate pain, it allows us to expedite the healing process,” she explains.
“There’s a difference between curing and healing,” James said. “These practices are just tools. As I grow older, I want to have the tools to have a better quality of life.”