Gong Bath 101 by Leo Cosendai
A gong bath is a form of sound healing meditation growing in popularity as a therapeutic practice. It is a mode of passive meditation practised laying down, whilst being immersed in the rich and unusual sounds of a gong. No knowledge or experience is required and it makes meditation very accessible; turning it into a real experience with many benefits on both a mental, physical and even spiritual level.
Gong sessions often begin with breathing exercises, mantra chanting or light stretching to relax and ease you into the experience. The gongs are then gradually introduced and the vibrations are absorbed throughout the entire body, which can help shift energetic blockages. Other sound healing tools such as crystal bowls, chimes, rattles, drums and the voice may also be used to create a restorative and diverse soundscape.
The Gong Bath Experience
Each gong bath experience is unique but it's possible to have a range of experiences from visions, to epiphanies, to creative solutions, and even psychedelic-like journeys. As gong baths are a mode of meditation that can quieten the mind, you may find that inspiration, new ideas, or breakthroughs come to you. You might like to have a journal with you to write down these thoughts afterwards.
In short, gong baths offer us the chance to absorb sounds that alter our magnetic field, brain chemistry and nervous system. On a human level, this translates into many experiences including the 5 most common below:
- Boundary cessation - feeling like your awareness extends beyond your skin. You may also feel like your body is floating or rotating in space, or that you have become very tiny or very big. All of this is part of what the world calls out of body experiences.
- Time cessation - gong bathers may feel they are in an altered state for as little as 10 minutes when in reality it lasts for 45 minutes or more. For some people, time can go very slowly which is also a sign of an altered state experience.
- Deep relaxation - specifically the delta and theta brain wave states, which are the slowest brain waves in humans. We tend to reach these states during daydreaming or deep sleep, and they are known to aid relaxation, creativity and natural healing. It can feel like your body has melted and you are part of the floor. You are present but not quite present and it feels amazing during and after the experience.
- Falling asleep - your brain will find it challenging to follow the sounds of the gong, so you will likely enter a deep meditative state at least once during the session. Some of us go so deep we sleep the whole time and feel like we went somewhere, without really knowing where, how, and why. It’s thought to be the equivalent of 1 to 2 hours of revitalising delta sleep.
- Emotional digestion - it is not uncommon for people to become aware of dis-ease within their body or existence. Gong baths can feel like intense therapy and things can and do come up. You may experience a range of emotions and reactions such as laughing, crying, feeling scared or angry, and anything in between.
The Benefits Of Gong Healing
Gong baths are highly rejuvenating for the body and bring about an overall sense of relaxation and well-being, which can reduce stress, as well as help develop a better ability to cope with stress. They may also encourage greater overall stillness and contentment in our daily lives.
Another process that takes place is entrainment – the synchronisation of our fluctuating brainwaves with the stable frequency of the gong, which our brains acclimate to and unify with. This, too, can help create overall harmony within our bodies.
Other benefits on a physical level may include:
1) A boost and adjustment in parasympathetic nervous system activity - also known as ‘rest and digest system’. This prevents your adrenal glands from burning 24/7.
2) Heart rate goes low (it can take time and often goes up before going right down), heart rate variability increases (that’s a good thing), breath rate slows down and homeostasis is initiated after a while (where all body systems communicate together as a tuned orchestra).
3) Nitric oxide is released in various parts of your body, which is great for immunity.
4) Your body produces chemicals such as serotonin (happy hormone) and oxytocin (love/kindness hormone).
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