A Gong Bath
Bathing in Sound
Ever in my pursuit of relaxing experiences, you can imagine my elation to hear of a local Gong Bath in a lovely little studio near where I live. There’s something magical about the sound of a “gong bath,” or is that just me?!
Let’s start with the basics, what on earth is a gong bath?
In a nutshell, gong baths are a type of meditation, but less active than other forms, the idea is you “bathe” in the healing vibrations of sound.
Time for a bit of history, this is no new fad we’re dealing with — in fact, sound healing dates back to ancient cultures. There are accounts and records of using similar gongs across ancient Egyptian, Greek, and Roman cultures.
“Gongs have been used as shamanic healing tools, celebratory instruments, and a method of communication for thousands of years. Evidence suggests that gong making was known as early as 4,000 B.C. and ancient alchemy sources put the gong as far back as 16,000 B.C.,” says sound healing practitioner Britta Hochkeppel.
What are the benefits of a Gong Bath?
Writing on the Triyoga blog, Sound Healer Leo Cosendai explained it best as:
“When something within us is out of tune it can cause dis-ease to arise in our bodies. Factors such as stress, anger, trauma and environment in our daily lives may negatively impact us which can then manifest on a physical, emotional, mental and spiritual level. The vibrations produced in a gong bath help to “tune” your body and therefore aid in restoring harmony and resonance throughout.”
Put simply, a Gong Bath can help with relaxation, emotional release, and pain relief. Definitely sounds magical right?
What happens during a Gong Bath?
The content of the session can vary, but the ones I’ve been to began with some gentle movement and twists — helping the body prepare for the relaxation.
It’s important when you get settled and lie down to make sure you’re comfortable and a nice temperature, that might mean some fluffy socks, definitely a blanket and if you’re like me, a bolster under the knees is a must. I need a pillow too. Basically, I want to feel completely comfortable and able to lie still for 45 minutes.
When you feel the first ‘waves’ of the Gong, it’s such a unique sound. It’s hard to put into words, but I’ll try (otherwise it would be a pretty rubbish blog!). It’s a mellow sound, nothing like a brash gong you’d hear in a martial arts film. It does sound like it ripples and it brought to mind waves ebbing and flowing over the land. The Sound Healer takes you on a journey. I’ve done two Gong Baths with the same guide and the content was different each time. It felt like it built up to a climax and then it began to mellow out again. As you lie there, it really is super relaxing.
Though I’ve practised meditation on/off for five years or so, I still find it hard. I naturally have a very busy mind and the idea of clearing it, sometimes feels like climbing Everest. For me, I find timing my breathing to flow with the Gong vibrations a helpful exercise to get on the path to deep relaxation. I like to have my hands resting on my abdomen and really channel those big belly breaths. If I look at my three-year-old son, his entire stomach expands when he breathes, as adults, we seem to forget how to breathe properly with our shallow chesty approach.
Eventually, I truly did feel like I went into a sleepy state.
We ended the session by sitting upright and engaged in a chanting meditation. If this wasn’t your bag, there was no pressure you could simply sit and listen but actually, there’s something very soothing about doing a chant (especially when there’s a soundtrack so no one can hear my terrible voice!). My back was starting to hurt during this session and I didn’t want to disrupt everyone by going to sit against the wall. But I made sure at my second gong bath that I went into a more supported position straight away. Taking adaptations that you need is crucial. It’s impossible to meditate if you’re in crippling pain.
So, a Gong Bath for relaxation… it’s a big thumbs up from me. I’m already booked into my next one!
Ps… if you want a sample of the sound, this is who I practised with
© Copyright Jasmine Wellbeing Tynemouth