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Researchers Use “Singing Bowl” Therapy on Tibetan Monks

June 16th 2009

Researchers are using integrated therapy, including tai chi and singing bowls, on Tibetan monks suffering from traumatic stress as a result of being tortured.
Researchers at Boston University are using integrated therapy, including tai chi and singing bowls, on Tibetan monks suffering from traumatic stress as a result of being tortured.

A large number of Tibetan monks fleeing religious persecution were treated by singing bowl therapy, a type of music therapy, after the monks reported that traditional meditation techniques had resulted in distressing flashbacks and hyper-vigilance, according to Dr. Michael Grodin, a professor at Boston University’s School of Public Health who has led therapy with the monks.

The sounds produced by singing bowl therapy have a direct connection to the heart and aligns the monks’ srog-rLung, a life-wind imbalance, which reduces anxiety and depression. Yogic practices combining movement of the body and controlled breath complimented the therapy.

"This research and treatment involving patients accustomed only to traditional medicine, presented an opportunity for the acceptance of non-traditional therapeutic approaches," said Dr. Grodin. "The difference between Tibetan and Western disease pathologies represents the need for evidence-based complementary therapies, such as the Tibetan monks in exile and other religious refugee populations," said Grodin.

Dr. Grodin, also the co-director of the Boston Center for Refugee Health and Human Rights, has also worked with Holocaust survivors and other victims of torture. His therapy was recently the focus of a National Public Radio report.