Sound is a wonderful healing tool and most of us recognize uplifting powers of a favorite song, soothing energy of a mother’s lullaby and mood-enhacing morning song of birds outside the window. Sound is much more than what can be recorded and enjoyed through the speakers afterwards – it’s the energy and vibration, just think of live performances of opera powerhouses, mega stars and symphonic orchestras. As a sound healer I use traditional multi tonal instruments – gongs, singing bowls, chimes and cymbals, for example – to create sound space for healing and rejuvenation. Sound baths are somewhat new and I have written an article below to answer the most common questions about what a gong sound bath is and what makes it a wonderful addition to restorative health practices.
What is a gong bath?
Gong bath is a form of sound healing that uses gongs and sometimes other ancient multi-tonal instruments. The “bath” part refers to being enveloped into a vortex of overtone sounds and vibrations of gongs. Everyone’s clothes stay on and no water is involved.
How is a gong bath taken?
A typical gong bath starts with simple exercises to warm up the spine and get the qi flowing. After that you lie down in a comfortable resting pose (savasana, also known as corpse pose), close your eyes and relax. A group gong bath lasts about 45minutes and during that time all you do is receive therapeutic sound waves and prana that the gongs produce. There are longer sessions for those who are brave enough to go deep for 90 minutes – or even an all-night 450 minutes “gong puja” with multiple players.
Why are gong baths healing?
Gong is a very powerful instrument that has an ability to alter brain waves and adjust vibrational fields of cells and bodies. Gongs produce powerful vibrations and only part of them are heard by the ears, the rest is felt and absorbed by the whole body. These vibrations entrain cells, just like a bigger musical instrument would entrain a smaller one to eventually catch up to its rhythm. This entrainment allows toxins to be expelled into interstitial fluid and cellular energy to be renewed. Given that our bodies are roughly 70% water, powerful effects are often felt after even a short session.
Typically, the first few minutes take your brain to Alpha waves state, into relaxed daydreaming. Then the sound takes you into deep meditative state – asleep but awake, the domain of Theta brain waves. Some people quickly progress to Delta waves, the state of deep healing sleep. During the gong bath you may be switching between the states, come in and out of sleep and dreaming. Over the course of the session nervous system typically calms down and switches into parasympathetic (rest-and-digest) mode, allowing for improved mood, digestion, sleep and possibly even a few chords of gentle snoring. Your body and your spirit know what’s best for now and there is no metric to your experience. We call all gong experiences perfect.
Who needs a gong bath?
Gong baths are beneficial for everyone and suitable even for children, pregnant women and pets! It’s a gentle and unique form of sound therapy that reduces mental, emotional and physical stress, helps with low energy levels and brings body, mind and soul into balance. Gong vibrations work on cellular level, rejuvenating body tissues, removing blockages from body’s meridian system and balancing chakras and aura. Gong baths have a strong relaxing and detoxifying effect – just ask nearly a thousand participants I have welcomed over nearly 3 years how deep their sleep is and how rejuvenated they feel. In the world where everyone’s adrenal glands are fried like barbecue charcoals we all can benefit from timely relaxation. I call this state of deep relaxation “parasympathetic bliss”.
Gong baths are a wonderful tool for both beginner and seasoned meditation practitioners – the sound waves really help to drown out the mental chatter and guide toward spaciousness of a light mind. Those who say they “cannot meditate” often manage to get a glimpse of unburdened state of being with the help of gong sounds.
What will I feel after a gong bath?
Every experience is unique and every single one is “pukka”, perfect. Some people have reported feeling very relaxed, rejuvenated and even blissful afterwards, some still feel gong vibrations a few days after and some discover emotions that they were not aware of.
People have reported getting over severe jet lag and bouts of insomnia after just one session, dramatic reduction of anxiety and stress, and even discovering astonishing creative talents! Those with old injuries often say they feel warmth and pleasant tingle in the area, sometimes for a few days after the session – as blood flow is activated and meridians are being unblocked, gentle sound massage brings more oxygen and nutrients to gently break up scar tissue.
It is recommended that you don’t plan strenuous activities after a bath, let yourself relax to process the emotions and drink plenty of water to facilitate detoxification. It is very common to feel thirst beyond regular need for water – listen to your body and replenish as much as needed.
What is the difference between a group and a private gong bath?
The love and care that goes into group gong sessions and one-on-one healings are the same. Depending on how sensitive people are to surrounding energies, some find it easy to relax in a group and some prefer to receive the healing alone. Often people start with group gong baths to get familiar with the experience and opt for 1:1 healing sessions when they feel ready for a deeper, more intense healing, but one doesn’t exclude the other.
Did you study to play gong?
Yes, I studied under magnificent Kundalini yoga and gong teachers, Jabpir Kaur and Grand Gong Master Don Conreaux, the creator of Gong Master title and gong yoga. Master Don has decades of experience playing gongs, healing and training new gong therapists around the globe. I continue to train with Don and Jocelyn to expand my knowledge of holistic sound healing.
Contact me for schedule of weekly sessions in Shanghai, private or small group reservations: WholisticTherapiesShanghai@gmail.com