Updated: Nov 27, 2018
Gong meditation, gong bath, gong healing, gong therapy, gong yoga.
It goes by many names. Substitute the word gong with sound and you have even more ways of describing this ancient practice.
So what exactly is a gong experience?
If I told you it’s a cross between meditation, live music, a massage, therapy, an ultrasound treatment and a nap, what does that conjure up in your imagination? Go with that. And bear with me as I explain.
Like meditation, sound is trending as a healing technique because the benefits are a great complement to — and escape from — modern life.
We’re exposed to so many stressors, distractions and stimuli on a daily basis. To some extent, we’ve trained ourselves to ignore them (are you bothered by the noise of busy streets, or has it become part of the soundscape of your life?). But studies show that city dwellers, plagued by urban fatigue, are at higher risk of developing anxiety and mood disorders. At the same time, we are mentally and emotionally beholden to our smartphones, which may be even more detrimental to our health. One study has shown that the proximity of your phone during an exam can decrease your available IQ.
What can we do to disconnect from technology, rest our minds and find relief from urban fatigue and burn out?
Traditional meditation or mindfulness practices are certainly very effective, as are meditation apps (although they might only strengthen your dependence on your phone). And then of course there’s yoga and other forms of exercise, which are great for strengthening the connection between mind and body. Add to the list traditional therapy, massage and practices like reiki and you have a decent menu of options.
Yet all of these techniques come with their respective limitations. While meditation is supposed to be effortless, many people find it hard to sit in silence and struggle to establish a practice. Yoga demands a certain degree of physical dexterity (unless we’re talking about more sedentary styles such as yoga nidra), and that too takes practice. Massages are a wonderful treat for your body, but they can be expensive and don’t necessarily do much to quiet the chatter in your mind. Therapy has major cognitive benefits, but it’s typically even more expensive. Reiki is a very profound healing technique, but it won’t appeal to everyone.
Not to exacerbate decision fatigue, but now you can also engage in immersive sound healing experiences such as “gong baths”.
In case you’re wondering, a gong bath has nothing to do with bathtubs — it gets this funny name because you can literally “bathe” in the sound of the gong as the vibrations wash over (and through) you.
What exactly happens during a gong session, and who can benefit?
It’s a way for anyone with an active and overstimulated life to experience total relaxation — with immediate results.
The power of the gong is due to the unique qualities of sound — which affect both your mind and body in a profound way. At the mental level, the sound of the gong can induce a meditative state because it influences your brainwave activity through a process called entrainment. At the physical level, sound waves stimulate your nerve endings and travel through you, vibrating every molecule inside your body. Sound meditation has also been proven to decrease stress and anxiety, release physical tension, boost mood, and improve concentration and focus, among many other positive effects.
In this way, everyone can benefit from the healing effects of sound starting with the very first gong session. No practice, flexibility, change of clothes, prior experience, or expensive treatment plan necessary.
Now I’m not saying this is a magic bullet and that sound will cure all modern ailments (although researchers are exploring how sound can break up cancer cells). But many skeptics and hyperactive individuals (including kids!) have come to my gong sessions and been pleasantly surprised by the immediate effects and how much they enjoyed it. Adding another technique to your stress relief toolkit — particularly one that does not rely on technology — certainly can’t hurt. And the more you come, the deeper you will get into the relaxation and the more you’ll experience the lasting effects.
Curious to try it for yourself?
Experience the good vibes of the gong by searching for a “gong bath” or “sound bath” near you. If you live in London, come visit us at the GONG studio and we’ll introduce you to a whole new way to escape from urban life and find solace in sound.
Originally published on Linkedin.