Nepal's singing bowls somehow ring true

I'm one with the spirits, though it's hard to recall who found whom first. But when they come calling, I listen.

They called when I was in a mystical square here in one of Nepal's most enchanting medieval cities, where you do not need to imagine how it once looked.

Distance-wise, Bakhtapur is close to big city Katmandu. But I prefer time travel in Nepal, which means I go back a few centuries to this place, Bakhtapur, known as the city of devotees.

I was wandering in Durbar Square amid a row of Hindu temples, climbing up terribly narrow steps, stretching out on the edge of a temple adorned with elaborate carvings and absorbing a tranquil afternoon. And that's when they dialed me up.

You also could say that it was the voice of our guide, a polite young man who had taught himself the city's history so he could make a modest living. He urged us to visit a very special store where the proprietors sell and teach all about singing bowls.

I knew it was the spirits calling because I rarely give in to a guide's invitation to visit a store.

Singing bowls have existed for eons across Asia but took up a special place in the Himalayas at the time of the Buddha, about the 6th century B.C. It is said that Tibetan monks use them for meditation. They are made of a combination of metals, and when struck they supposedly they emit healing sounds.

As the store's singing-bowl master explained, you can't pick just any bowl. It must match your astrological chart. So I chose a modest one for Aquarians, and the master explained how the ringing of the bowl would ease basic pains.

No sooner had he struck the bowl with a mallet, holding it over my head, that the day's aches seemed to evaporate. I bought the bowl, about $80, and wandered off, healed. I know when to listen.

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