Before I ever picked up a mallet and hit a gong with it, I had been teaching meditation for decades. I have taught most of the following meditations and have experimented with all of them. I chose these meditations as something you can practice while at a gong bath to supercharge your experience and make the results long lasting and profound.
You can also practice any of these meditations, except #1…you will see why, outside of a gong bath. Practicing them even for a couple minutes a day will yield good results.
May these be of assistance to you on your great journey.
Meditation #1 The ‘No Meditation’ Meditation
This is the first meditation, because if you have taken the trouble to come to a gong bath and you are laying there, then it is already wonderful!
If you just show up at the gong bath and lay down, at a minimum you are giving yourself over an hour of doing nothing, while being awake. (usually :-)) This is a powerful action on your part and it will relax, energize, clarify and transform you. Then consider the millions of sounds of the gongs, the meditative intention and attention of your fellow space travellers and it is already a massive success and there is no need to do anything else!
So there is no need to read further, unless you want to!
The Practice: Just show up and lay down. That’s it!
Meditation #2 The ‘Mindfulness’ Meditation
This meditation will strengthen your ability to pay exquisite and non-judgemental attention to anything you’re experiencing. The ability to experience life without reacting, without mentally projecting, brings unlimited quality to your relationships and your activities.
The Practice: As you lay there, bring your awareness to anything you experience, externally or internally, and just keep your attention there. I call it elongating your focus. Keeping your attention on any experience longer than usual automatically creates what is called mindfulness. At first, you will lose your focus (in fact you will lose your focus even as a so called advanced meditator…it’s totally OK!) don’t beat yourself up for that. It is part of the process. Just commit your focus to something else and hold it there.
Meditation #3 The ‘Silence that Listens’ Meditation
This is both the goal and the way toward the goal. The goal is self-discovery and it’s found in pure silence. Pure silence is found in deep listening. Deep listening is a fancy couple of words which means that you are aware, but you are also aware *that* you are aware.
With this form of deep listening, whatever you are aware of is secondary. The fact and source of your awareness is primary. Like a mother watching her child play with a toy; the child focuses on the toy, but the mother focuses on the child. In other words, you have an experience, whatever it is, but you say to yourself, ‘I notice that I am noticing this experience.’ Just like that. Again and again. It is subtle and requires practice, but it will take you to spacious stillness without fail.
The Practice: With this meditation, if you have a thought about something, notice that you are noticing this thought. If you are restless, notice that you notice you are restless, for example. The very noticing of your noticing will take you to a more subtle silence.
Meditation #4 The ‘Intentional Thinking/Creativity’ Meditation.
One gong bath attendee is a director of information technology for a large company. This person actually comes to gong baths to let himself just think. I love this approach. It is such an intelligent way to be creative and to solve problems. The gong bath will help you to step away from your situation and see it with greater clarity. More than this, a gong bath will change the way your brain is working. It will slow it down, bringing you to a more creative mindset. You will see your current situation in a new light. You will see bigger picture themes with simple clarity. New solutions and inspiration will occur to you.
The Practice: One way to do this meditation is to ask yourself an important question as you lay down and prepare. Once you are ready for the bath, you repeat this question a few times. Another way to do it is to encourage yourself to think. There is no need to force it. Just let the thoughts percolate like good coffee. You can actually do this meditation at any point in the gong bath, but I recommend you try it at the beginning.
Meditation #5 The ‘Give it to the Gong Bath’ Meditation
What keeps us separated from each other? What makes experience seem so weak and unsatisfying? Why do we need high intensity experience to feel something? Or the opposite; why do we need to insulate ourselves from that which is ‘too loud.’
Isn’t it just that our thoughts and judgments assume a primary position in our awareness and the people and experiences of our world take second stage? If you are focused one the 70,000 thoughts a day streaming through consciousness, it is pretty hard to stay present with your experience. Here is a solution.
Whatever you are thinking, whether about the gong bath, or something else, you just imagine that you give those thoughts and emotions right directly onto the gong bath.
This meditation came to me during a phase of life in which I frequented galleries and museums. I would stand before a painting and look. I noticed that I would be thinking of something, anything, either related to the painting or not related at all. I longed for a deeper connection with the work so I would keep my focus on it and imagine that I was giving my thoughts and emotions to the painting. It was like a conversation. It was saying what it said, and I would think/feel what I thought or fealt which I connected to the work. It always made for a deeper and richer experience of the work. This will work for a gong bath too. It will create a livelier, more powerful and transformative experience of the bath.
The Practice: When you notice you are thinking something, bring your attention to the gong bath and give that thought or emotion to the gong bath with your imagination. Now stay with the sounds for a moment and see what happens. Repeat as often as you wish.
Meditation #6 The Noting Meditation
Studies show the average human thinks about 70,000 thoughts a day. 90% of these thoughts are automatically carried over from the day before without change. In other words, it isn’t you that is thinking them. They are thinking you! So what to do about this cascade of mindless mental babble. It turns out, the solution is easy. Simply by bringing our attention to the process of thinking, without judging the thoughts as ‘good’ thoughts or ‘bad’ thoughts, your mind automatically slows down. It may seem that it is speeding up, but this is only because you are becoming aware of these thoughts that were there all the time; you just hadn’t noticed. Being aware, they slow down giving you freedom from the noise and choice about how to experience your moment. Super empowering and of the greatest importance for your mental health.
Enter Noting Meditation. I used to teach this simple meditation and have seen profound realizations with it. At the very least, it engenders more relaxation and present moment awareness, but it can go way deeper than that.
The Practice: Bring your attention to your thinking. Whatever you are thinking is ok. Just notice thoughts that show up. As you notice your thoughts, pick one thought and give it a one word description. Say that word to yourself.
For example: I watch my thoughts, and then a thought of fear comes up: I say to myself: ‘fearing’, then immediately there is a thought about a meeting the next day, I say to myself: ‘planning.’ I congratulate myself on noticing that thought, so I say: ‘congratulating’.
About the word you choose to describe your thought: Don’t worry about what word you choose. It is ok even just to say ‘thinking.’ The important thing is that you are noticing thoughts *as* you are thinking them.
Meditation #7 The Body Scanning Meditation
This is a great way to both slow down your mind and get a deeper connection with your body. A gong bath is as much a physical experience as anything else so it is a very good idea to bring the body along for the ride, so to speak. This is also a great meditation for those whose thinking is stinking and out of control.
The Practice: Simply scan your body with your attention. You can keep your attention on one body part, or you can take a tour of your body with your attention. Whatever works for you. I recommend just trying to stay aware of your hands for starters and go from there. The way this works, is that you keep coming back to your body, no matter how many times your mind hypnotizes you into never never land, you arrive again and again into the toes, the feet, the calves, the knees, etc. It’s awesome.
Meditation #8 The Trauma Release Meditation
First let me say that I am not an expert in any way, shape or form, when it comes to helping people with trauma. Be your own best friend and get help if you need it. Having said that, the gong bath has helped many people with various forms of trauma and so here is a meditation that could help someone experiencing a traumatic memory that was triggered by a sound.
The Practice: As you are lying there in the gong bath and you notice a traumatic memory, maybe you feel your heart racing and your skin start to sweat. Let yourself feel just to the edge of ok-ness and then open your eyes and take in where you are in this present moment. It is a gong bath. I totally safe space. If need be, sit up and watch me playing the gongs for a few minutes. Notice your breath. Has it calmed down a bit and deepened. When it does, just lay down again. Feel free to do this again and again as needed. Journeying through experiences like this can be incredibly healing.
Meditation #9 The Sankalpa (Intention) Meditation
Sankalpa is a fancy sanskrit word that means intention. kalpa means vow, or “the rule to be followed above all other rules.” San refers to a connection with the highest truth. Sankalpa, then, is a vow and commitment we make to support our highest truth.
The point of this meditation is that in order to create the life we are meant to live, we must draw the mind again and again to our deepest intentions. The more we bring our attention to those intentions the more we live by those intentions. In the context of a gong bath, it is really more of a subconscious activity. We let our subconscious do the work, but we bring the intention to the subconscious. This is how it works.
The Practice: At the beginning of the gong bath, before I start playing there is always a good moment of silence. In this silence, simply ask yourself: What is the most important thing in my life right now? Let the answer to that question be your intion. Once you have your intention, repeat it to yourself a few times. Then forget it and simply enjoy the bath. When the bath is over, there will be another period of silence. If you can, remember your intention.
Meditation #10 The Contemplative Question Meditation
This is a way to engage your mind, create spacious quiet awareness, gain clarity and learn how to think using superior reason, sensitivity and calm. Very powerful and integral.
The Practice: Start with a question. It could be any question, but it should be something of real significance to you. Something that matters deeply. Maybe think about it before you get to the gong bath. Determine that you will contemplate this question. As you lay down, silently repeat this question to yourself. If it is before the bath, you can even whisper it out loud. It can be valuable to hear yourself saying it. Repeat it slowly again and again. It will bring up other thoughts and emotions. This is ok. Just come back to the question again and again. Also the gong bath will at times dominate your attention. This is not only ok, but very valuable. When you re-emerge from the sounds, repeat your question to yourself. When the bath is over, take a look at the question again and see if something has changed or gotten clearer. Or you can simply let it go until next time. This is also valuable as the seed planted in the subconscious will certainly do its work.