Thursday, August 23, 2012

Wendy's Bowl - the Song Continues

Each time I strike it, the sound goes straight to my heart. It’s a Tibetan singing bowl. A special one for which I have just been honoured to become its carer. I don’t think owner is the right term; I believe these bowls come to us bringing their special meditation and healing qualities for us to share.

This one belonged to Wendy Martindale, friend, former yoga student, ‘boss’ and mentor at the New Brunswick Museum and inspirer of my recent ‘Warrior Women’ – Yoga for Breast Cancer programme.

Wendy’s partner, Harvey, gave it to me a couple of weeks ago.  As August 1st would have been Wendy’s 60th birthday, a day she had planned as her retirement, it was an appropriate, if stingingly sad time.  Wendy lost her warrior’s fight with cancer two years ago in July. Harvey had earlier given me her mala (prayer beads) and yoga books, providing a deep continuation of friendship and the sustaining power of yoga. A wooden box handmade by Wendy’s father is a fitting keeping place.


Wendy was one of the first people I met when we moved to Saint John. Wondering if the Museum might have work for a writer with my background. It didn’t at the time. But when Wendy, a previous yogi, heard I was also a yoga teacher, she was ready to sign up. And she did as soon as I began an early evening, after work class.

Later I began working part-time at the Museum, helping Wendy get through her hectic schedule. We cried together when I had to move to Moncton, but the connection remained strong. When I applied for a Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation grant for my ‘Warrior Women’ programme, Wendy wrote a moving testimonial about the amazing benefits, physical and spiritual, yoga offers to women adjusting to a ‘new normal’ body as they “continue to continue”.

Wendy’s bowl, as it will always be known, is an interesting design; brown with a pale gold band running round the upper rim. Symbols cover the sides and base with some inside. So far my research has not found any matching symbols or mantras, often etched or painted on. Next month I’ll again be at a workshop given by Fr. Joe Pereira, so I’ll take the bowl with me.

Researching Tibetan bowls is a lovely, if time consuming, process. Almost every web site has an audio track so you can hear the amazing sounds.

Tibetan singing bowls are thought to be made of a many-metal alloy  of silver, nickel, copper, zinc, antimony, tin, lead, cobalt, bismuth, arsenic, cadmium and iron. Other research suggests they may be a pure mixture of copper and tin.

 When stuck with a wooden mallet the clear, rich vibrations quickly inspire centring and stillness. When the mallet is gently circled clock-wise round the outer rim, harmonic overtones produce an ethereal singing sound, the vibrations are felt though your body and mind. It is this aspect that is very important in healing

In yoga and meditation we strike a bowl to signal the beginning of a practice session. By sounding to all four directions they offer a summons to the here and now, clearing the space of negative energy, opening it and the practitioners to new energies, deep meditation and healing. Sounding a bowl can also signal a change from sitting to walking meditation; a period in which meditators inhale and retain the breath until the sound ceases, or the end of a practice.

Thank you, Harvey. Thank you, Wendy. Your bowl has another good home and will continue to sing.



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