1.13.2013

Learning: Gong Bath

Last night I attended my first ever gong bath workshop, at my local yoga studio. A gong bath is said to help realign internal imbalances in the chakras or with your emotions. Just what I wanted!

I hadn't heard much about gong baths in the past, except that my yoga studio has had a similar event recently. All I knew is that a gong bath is supposed to work in similar fashion to how mantras do: they activate particular energy centers in the human body.

There were three gongs set up at the head of the room, and everyone was asked to lay down with their heads towards the gongs and feet leading away from them. 

Although the ability and stamina of the practitioner are very important, the actual gongs themselves play a very important role as well. The disks come in a variety of sizes and are specially made of a copper and brass alloy.

The gongs are either made and honed by hand and or by machine--either way, they are continuously checked during the manufacturing process to assure they are attuned to a particular key. Their resulting harmonics resonate in different ways within the human body and the space they are played within.

During the gong bath, last night, I found that the deeper tones resonated the best with me, while the high pitched ones helped release something that was building up with the deeper tones. It was cyclical in a way, and very interesting to observe.

During a gong bath you may fall asleep, meditate, experience new-found emotions, see colors, and visualize imagery. In my case, my mind spent a lot of time trying to make sense of the surreal sounds.

I kept associating the sounds I experienced to other sounds I had heard before, and since I pretty much always relate things to movies, I kept visualizing sound effects from movies like Forbidden Planet (the noise the creature makes, especially on the steps up to the ship), Star Trek the Voyage Home (the strange sounds the probe makes), and The Shining (the cacophonous sounds in the soundtrack). Oh and don't let me forget Twin Peaks!

I did visualize some scenes from my past, with mixed results. The best part was really relaxing physically and melting into my yoga mat and bolster. My hands felt incredibly heavy at times, while my body seemed to float with each reverberation from the gong. The first wave came through the crown of my head and worked its way down the rest of my body, out my feet. It was really interesting. I came in skeptical  and left a believer.

I think I will strive to achieve that kind of physical relaxation and mental flow in my budding meditation practice. I will try to hold on to that sensation in memory so I can refer back to it. It's definitely an experience that someone who is interested in alternative body/mind practices and healing should try at least once.