Gongs, singing bowls, chakra bells, chanting. There is a lot of work on sounds and frequencies going on in the yoga world. And its about time!
More than ever our lives are surrounded by less than welcome background noises from engines, traffic, buzzing computers or incessant tv and radio chatter. Maybe what we need is something to overwrite those vibrations and help us re-tune internally.
Sound can be a sensitive subject. There are lots of different, often strong, opinions about whether yoga should be a quiet practice or whether background music and teachers talking throughout the lesson and savasana gives a deeper experience. It comes down to personal choice. And its the same for your gong bath or sound meditation. It’s all about what works for you.
Some set ups use complex structures with multiple shining gongs in varying sizes, others just a single instrument. The gong playing can be mixed with all sorts of different sound making equipment - Tibetan bowls, crystal bowls, singing, chanting, xylophones, rain sticks or another traditional instruments.
What is a gong bath like?
That depends. The experience is going to vary based on how you are feeling, what day it is (a sound bath linked to moon cycles can be particularly strong) and how you are guided into the session. Preparation is one of the most critical elements - doing a brief yin practice or mantra work will help you relax and be more receptive to the gong based meditation to come. As in Yoga Nidra, you often find myself drifting in and out of a semi-sleep state during a gong bath. Lots of people have experience wonderful personal insights and sensations during gong baths. On the other hand some people come away feeling nauseous or dizzy. It can be intense - and very very loud!
Tips for enjoying your first gong experience:
1. Check if the session plans to include a gentle practice to prepare and focus you mind and body.
2. You don’t have to sit close to experience the benefits (in fact sitting too close can be a bit overwhelming), so take it easy and set yourself up wherever feels comfortable.
3. If you are feeling a bit nervous, sit up resting against a wall instead of lying down, you will still get the benefit just not so intense as your body isn’t picking up so much vibration from the floor.
4. Don’t eat just before the gong bath, a full stomach and strong sound vibrations going through your body don’t mix well.
5. Drink plenty of water afterwards
6. Just lie back and enjoy it! Whether you have a deep and meaningful experience or just a nice long relaxation. And try it more than once, find out what style best suits you by trying different sessions with different teachers and rooms.
Gong baths are a great way to deepening your experience of yoga, explore more about yourself and most important to relax your mind and body.
Author: Miriam Rodway, 2019