I’m not much of a shopper. I bore quickly browsing through stores. But there was a store I loved when I lived in New York City many years ago: Steuben. Their impressive collection of crystal captivated me. There was something magical about the delicate objects shining in that museum-like store, though I never imagined they could have healing properties – until many years later.

At the time, I was living outside of Boston and had read about a Crystal Bowl Meditation workshop.  Intrigued, I went on a whim.  Winter nights can be long in New England, and I was happy to have an interesting reason to get out of the house.

Inside a large room at a local healing arts center were about 20 crystal bowls of various sizes and one very upbeat man.  Rhys Thomas (www.rhysmethod.com/rhys-method-crystal-bowls/) is a certified energy medicine practitioner and sound healer who runs the Rhys Thomas Institute of Energy Medicine in Medway, Massachusetts.

“Illness has to do with the sense of forgetting who you are,” Thomas said. With a twinkle in his eye and a knowing grin, he explained that the human body is mostly water — or liquid crystal — and his bowls are made of quartz crystal. “When they’re struck, they send out a human signal that stimulates and enhances your ability to feel yourself.”

Thomas described the seven chakras, purported energy centers located at the body’s midline that correspond with physical organs as well as emotions. Each chakra, he said, also corresponds with a musical note (like C, D, E, etc.), as do seven of his bowls. The five bowls that play sharps supposedly correspond with loftier things like our life purpose and our soul.

After his brief introduction, Thomas asked us to lie down, close our eyes, and just allow ourselves to experience whatever we experienced.

I can’t offer much here because I floated out of consciousness very soon after he began striking the bowls.  (I guess that says something). But toward the end when Thomas played the “life purpose” and “soul” bowls, the tones were so deep and rich that I felt my whole body — even my eyeballs — vibrate. It was as if these frequencies and I were one and the same, as if the bowls were playing me.

What Thomas offered that night was an introduction to sound healing or vibrational medicine — an ancient practice that might involve gongs, Tibetan singing bowls, even human voice to bring the body into harmonic balance. Thomas says he prefers crystal bowls because they do the best job of stimulating feeling.

Oncologist Mitchell Gaynor, author of The Healing Power of Sound, incorporates vibrational medicine into his practice. Apparently, vibrations can lower heart rate variability, relax brain wave patterns, and reduce respiratory rates. They might not cure illness, but they could reduce pain and anxiety.

Thomas believes the sounds crystal bowls emit can do even more. His clients have a range of physical and emotional issues. Some have back pain or digestive problems; others suffer from sexual abuse.

They dialogue with Thomas and then relax while he strikes the bowls. “The mind clears away and allows the body to remember what it’s like to be unattached to patterns of negativity, rejection, and fear,” Thomas says.  “That’s the healing process — the truth of remembering yourself.”

I like that explanation. It sounds true to me. Just like those bowls.

Portland is the creator, host, and executive producer of “What’s the Alternative?” on the former Veria Living TV. She also writes for Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health in Stockbridge, Massachusetts.