In the past weeks, I have been sharing personal gong stories and I am so humbled to read each one when it gets to me. I enjoy playing gong and all the calming and stress-reducing benefits of it, but to see how it positively affects others takes my joy to a whole new level.
My teacher Don Conreaux says we play the gong for world peace, and seeing people more relaxed, content and a little less anxious after each session affirms me in this belief, even if we first have to push through discomfort. Seeking ourselves and meeting our own expectations is the hardest job we will ever have, and as you will be able to see from the story, it is not linear, nor is it instant and requires a tremendous amount of self-compassion and self-awareness. Candice-Lee first joined my gong baths in 2016 and has been a regular since. She shared her incredible story:
“Some time ago, I started asking myself necessary, uncomfortable questions about my place in the world, what type of life I wanted to live, and what I could draw on to keep me growing along this path. I wasn’t seeking anything in particular, I was keeping my eyes and ears open with a beginner’s mind of curiosity. I knew what didn’t work for me: anxiety, Fear Of People’s Opinions or FOPO, imposter syndrome, negativity – the list goes on. But how to change this mindset? Is it conscious? Unconscious? I started yoga, and built a meditation practice around it. The benefits were amazing: better decision making, a better understanding of myself, less concern about others’ opinions (the worst!), less anxiety, a more rational mindset, the ability to not be reactive in situations, and most importantly: the beauty of ‘letting go’. I was thrilled! And I wanted more. But I didn’t know how or where to find it.
Through searches for relaxation and meditation music on Spotify (yes, a music platform led me to sound healing), I was drawn to singing bowls and gongs. I didn’t know gong baths existed – or that they would be in Shanghai – and was thrilled when I saw Valeria’s profile in a Shanghai health store highlighting the work she does. Serendipity! I messaged her on the spot and was booked in for a gong bath a few days later. I was hooked instantly. For me, the gongs are a very personal experience. They are a teacher who believes fully in you and your capabilities, even when you waver in your own belief.
My first experience was huddled with other first-timers and experienced gong bathers in Valeria’s space. The atmosphere was inviting, calm and friendly. I wasn’t nervous, more eager to understand how I’d feel afterwards. We can’t always process emotions or events on a conscious level. At the time I couldn’t articulate exactly what my motivation was, other than a deep intuition that this is what I needed. I started with an intention to ‘let go’ and it wasn’t easy. My first instinct was to tense up, and it took me a few sessions to understand how I needed to engage with the baths personally. Everybody has a different process. I set an intention at the beginning of the bath about something I want to work on, to clarify or that I need help with. My favourite phrase from Valeria’s pre-gong bath sessions is your inner you saying to your higher self: ‘’I didn’t know I could ask for help, but now I know. I release myself’’. Wow.
Not all gong baths were the same for me. Some were very uncomfortable and restless. Some are blissful. Some make me cry, and some make me sleep 12 hours afterwards.
Two memorable gong baths left me with no voice the next day and a constricted feeling in my throat. I had no desire to talk and felt dazed. After consulting with Valeria, we discerned that the session brought up issues with my Throat Chakra, to do with expression and articulation. I had had a stressful few weeks in my relationship and thought the throat constriction was due to me not feeling heard and not saying what was truly on my mind. ‘Got it!’, I thought. The next week I did another gong bath. I woke up the next day with an even more restricted throat, no desire to eat, inability to talk and no interest to engage with people. Again, Valeria and I discussed it. Whilst the Throat Chakra is linked to expression and articulation, this does not mean it is MY expression it’s linked to. Could it be that I have not been listening to my significant other during difficult conversations? Could it be that I’ve been using my own expression to drown out his? As soon as Valeria and I considered this, I knew it was true. After weeks of hard conversations at home, I knew then that I had not allowed my partner to fully voice his point-of-view and his thinking. A few days later, my partner and I sat down and, learning from the guidance from the gong bath, we shared a beautiful, meaningful and inclusive conversation, which changed our relationship.
I continue to use sound healing in the firm belief that those things we cannot process consciously are processed unconsciously. Sound baths are an amazing way to process, heal, surrender and celebrate. The true magic of the gongs is they show you that everything you need, and any answer you desire, is within you. Let go and surrender. In the stillness, the answer comes.”
You can read Sarah’s who was a regular for nearly a year, Sophie’s, who had incredible shifts after one session and Andrew’s, who was making time for himself amidst chaos and difficulty, stories in previous articles, and if you have no idea what gong baths are, this article will help to understand the basics, while here I write about aftercare and answer frequent questions.
Join one of my weekly group sessions in Shanghai, or book your own – date nights, birthday party naps, bridal showers or retreat gatherings, we have hosted them all.
Wishing you inner peace,