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Thursday, September 25, 2008

Seeking harmony

10:47 AM

It was a relaxing evening by the poolside with yoga and Tibetan singing bowls to soothe the soul

THE setting was immaculate: poolside at The Spa at Mandarin Oriental Hotel, Kuala Lumpur, with deck chairs and guests in white, candles on every table and New Age music wafting through the speakers.

It was Spa Night, an exclusive event held in conjunction with the Second Annual Strategic Planning Forum of the Asia-Pacific Spa Wellness Council (APSWC), on Feb 22-23, at the hotel.

The 50-odd delegates and invited guests milled around, sipping healthy concoctions of juices while enjoying free mini-massages (back, neck and feet reflexology).

Earlier, two members from the Yoga Franchise Sdn Bhd held a demonstration of partner yoga on a floating platform in the pool, the two twisting and balancing their bodies in yoga poses few of us can dream of.

A blond, pony-tailed man next made his way to the front and sat down amidst a row of antique Tibetan singing bowls to his front and side.

Winnie Rode held a bowl in the palm of his hand and struck it once. The sound reverberated through the cool night air, and even before it died, he had struck another, the frequencies undulating as he placed his lips close to the rim and blew softly.

It was then, with the view of the skyline of Kuala Lumpur as his backdrop, under the light of the full moon, that the true power of the singing bowls came to the fore.

Every time Rode strikes the bowls with a mallet, he sends out a complex chord of harmonic overtures into the crowd gathered before him.

This sound therapist actually uses the singing bowls as a healing medium, and has been practising this technique for about 20 years.

Born in Dortmund, Germany, Rode is now based in Koh Samui, Thailand, but teaches in several countries.

The 58-year-old had his first exposure to the singing bowls when he became a monk in the late 70sand early 80s at a Tibetan monastery in India.

"The Tibetans called them precious bowls and left them as offerings at the altar, and used them for prayer," says Rode after the performance.

"It was only when the New Age movement got going in the late 70s and 80s that these bowls were used to make them sing," he explains.

A teacher of Buddhist philosophy and meditation, and author of two books – one on Tibet and the other on Bhutan, Rode’s spiritual quest, more than anything else, has led him to reach out to help people in need, and this, he believes can be done in different ways.

"Sound is very archaic; a very deep experience. Music can heal mental states – it can calm you down, inspire you, agitate you and even consume you – depending on the kind of music you are listening to.

"The [antique] bowls have an additional effect of producing [specific] sound waves due to their construction – [these bowls] are made using up to seven different metals including bronze alloy, silver, tin, gold and nickel.

"The sound waves [they produce] are similar to brain waves and the bowls can re-stimulate or re-pattern brain waves to rediscover their own frequency," explains the singing bowl therapist (or sound therapist, as he prefers).

When healing, the German uses eight bowls – five for the chakras and three bowls for special needs (which come out during treatment).

The whole process is designed to re-harmonise the body from the cellular level and to bring about balance.

"Disease is the result of your body becoming unbalanced, which is caused by wrong vibrations and frequencies at the cellular level," Rode says.

According to Rode, the technique is useful in treating joint problems, digestive complaints and muscle stiffness.

But it is especially powerful, he says, in dealing with the mental state, such as stress-related complaints, insomnia, depression, broken heart, sinusitis and heart arrhythmia.

Rode has also come out with several CDs including Healing Therapy Music and Brainwave Therapy Music.

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