How Gongs, Chimes and Singing Bowls Induce Meditation

In my last post, “The Science Behind Sound Healing,” I explained how brainwaves readily synchronized with externally produced sound waves through a process called entrainment.  Using this principle, we can induce brainwaves that correlate to desirable states of consciousness such as Alpha, Theta and Delta wavelengths, which have been regularly observed in practitioners of deep meditation such as Yoga Nidra and Vedanta [1][2].



Alpha, Theta, and Delta wavelengths (0.5 Hz - 12 Hz), are inaudible to the human ear, but can be perceived in the brain using a process called binaural hearing.  When the brain is simultaneously exposed to two slightly different frequencies within a close range (for example 154 Hz and 150 Hz), a third frequency is perceived internally, expressing the difference between the two [3][4].


Binaural Hearing Example:

Externally Produced Audible Sound Frequencies

   154 Hz

– 150 Hz


       4 Hz

Internally Perceived Brain Frequency (Theta)


Ancient and traditional sound technologies such as gongs, chimes, and singing bowls were made to vibrate within a small range of frequencies, as if our ancestors were privy to the newly emerging sciences of binaural hearing and entrainment.  For example, studies on the frequencies emitted by Tibetan Buddhist chimes called Ting-Sha’s show expression of wavelengths between 4 and 8 Hz, “the range of brain waves that occurs during meditation” notes Mitchell L. Gaynor M.D., Oncologist and Clinical Assistant Professor of Medicine at Weill Medical College of Cornell University [5].



Gongs and singing bowls are no different.  If you listen closely to these traditional instruments, you will notice a throbbing or pulsation as they oscillate between fundamental and partial tones which have the uncanny ability to immediately clear the mind and induce a state of calm.  It’s not surprising that traditional cultures utilized these instruments to initiate meditation, observes Dr. Gaynor—“they signify the start of practice, and they can actually help to induce the state of profound relaxation that often accompanies meditation” [5].

Cited Sources

[1] Miller, Richard (February 10, 2010). Yoga Nidra (Pap/Com ed.). Boulder, CO: Sounds True, Incorporated. p. 104. ISBN 1591797586.

[2] Sharma Arvind: Sleep as a State of Consciousness in Advaita Vedanta; State University of New York Press, 2004

[3] Wahbeh, H., Calabrese, C., and Zwickey, H., Binaural beat technology in humans: a pilot study to assess psychologic and physiologic effects. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, Vol. 13, No. 1, 2007, pp25-32.

[4] Becher, A. K., Höhne, M., Axmacher, N., Chaieb, L., Elger, C. E., and Fell, J., Intracranial electroencephalography power and phase synchronization changes during monaural and binaural beat stimulation. European Journal of Neuroscience, Vol. 41, No. 2, 2015, pp254-263.

[5] Gaynor, Mitchell L. (2002). The Healing Power of Sound: Recovery from Life-Threatening Illness Using Sound, Voice, and Music.  Shambhala: Boston & London. pp 74-75. ISBN 978-1-57062-955-6.