It will come as a surprise to noone when I say that I love the gongs. I love how they sound, what I can do with them, what they do for others.
Yes, yes, gongs are great.
If you are reading this, there is a good chance you agree with me here, or at least you are curious about gongs. Maybe you are curious about gongs as muciscal instruments, or ‘sound healing’ instruments, or meditation instruments.
If you want to know about my view about how gongs can change your life, the first paragraph of this website says almost everything you need to know. Let me save you the trouble of going there. Here it is:
‘…sound is what you are made of. When you meditate on sound, your experience gets richer, more alive, more beautiful, more musical. You begin to awaken to your best self. This is what happens at a gong bath.’
I wrote this something like 6 years ago, and it is as true today as it was then.
But what if I was to tell you that there were crucial benefits you get from a gong bath that have nothing to do with gongs?
What if I told you that the presence of gongs, even played in a musical way, might not be the best most valuable benefits you get when you come to a session.
This sounds almost like heresy 🙂 But I have to be honest, before being a gong player.
I am as certain as certain can be that there are benefits to coming to a gong bath, that have nothing to do with gongs. These benefits are nonetheless very valuable, perhaps more valuable than the gongs themselves.
Here are 5 non-gong benefits you get at a gong bath.
Benefit #1: 90 minutes with yourself
How well do you know yourself?
If you are like most of us, you know yourself mainly in relation to external situations. You know yourself in your family, in your city, at work amongst colleagues, with your lovers, friends, pets, in your car, on your bike, in the tram, in your amusements, etc.
All of these situations have 2 things in common. One is obvious, one less obvious. The obvious one is that they are all outside of your body. They are happening around your body, and you are responding to them to make the best of these situations. You are not the cause of them. You are dealing with the effects of them.
The other, perhaps less obvious, aspect of each situation is that whatever the situation is, we are the common factor. Our sense of being there is what we carry in every situation. This may sound almost trivial to someone locked in to solving the riddle of the external situation, but trust me. It is anything but trivial. It is who you actually are!
We are required to navigate all these external situations throughout our days and weeks, our minutes and moments are over populated with the need to attend stuff going on around us. Whether the stuff I am talking about is stuff of our choosing or stuff that seems to just happen to us, the issue remains the same.
There is something happening ‘out there’ that require us to keep our focus out there, to act on what is out there, to think about stuff out there. Because this reacting and responding is constant and has been constant almost our whole waking lives, our identities have been forged based on everything around us! It is the ‘I am who I am, because everything I experience is the way it is’ way of identifying ourselves. We are not a cause. We are a result. It is our job, with this identity to make the best of it. Or at least it seems to be our job to make the best of situations not of our making.
Naturally, based on this understanding of who we are, we become fixated on the external, forgetting that there is something about us that was there before all these situations of our lives started happening to us. .
In the push and pull of this externized reality, our inherent sense of being gets forgotten, and at great cost to us.
We lose a lot in the process of forgetting that sense of being.
A few of things we lose when our focus is only ‘out there.’ We lose our sense of stability. Since our sense of being has always been there for us, it is what we actually know best of all in our lives, but when we don’t stop and let ourselves absorb this sense of being, we stop valuing and thus we stop valuing what we bring to each and every situation of our lives. Our presence.
In this process, we stop valuing the fact that we are there. We then look for the perfect situation to be happy, to be safe, to be awake, forgetting that our sense of being is with us in EVERY situation.
A gong bath gives you 90 minutes of self-remembering time. You get 90 minutes of waking time to let the mind settle down, to relax into feeling yourself feeling.
As much as I love the gongs, I really love the fact that these sessions give people 90 minutes to themselves, while providing enough beauty and entertainment with the gongs to make it comfortable enough to stay with themselves.
In my experience, this is about the best thing I can offer. Helping people get in touch with that sense of being regularly. Nothing else is needed. It is all that is needed for self -remembering.
Benefit #2: Freedom from responsibility.
Some years ago, I was standing outside of my daughter’s preschool, sharing a laugh with a fellow parent. I told her the quickest way to lose weight was to drop my kid off at preschool. Instantly I was 15 KG lighter!
We both laughed, because we both knew the truth of it.
Responsibility = Weight.
As adults, whether married or single, old or young, whatever gender we identify with, we are all saddled with responsibilities most of our days.
As a gong bath attendee, your only job is to show up. This is a big job, no doubt. It takes commitment to show up in a world that wants your time and your attention. But once you have made the effort to sign up, to pay, to get there, once you are in the room, your job is over. All that is left to do is to just lay down and be there. Nothing more.
You get to relax, trusting that I as the gong player, have the matter in hand. This 90 minutes of no responsibilities lets you go deep into relaxation. It gives you a reset. It lets you see your life in a bigger more creative picture.
Benefit #3: You get a vacation from yourself.
The poet Wei Wu Wei wrote:
‘Why are you unhappy? Because 99.9 percent of everything you think, and everything you do, is for yourself—and there isn’t one.’
I love this poem. It perfectly gets to the heart of the problem.
The root of all our suffering comes from a false self; a self who we habitually take ourselves to be, but who in fact we are not. We struggle to keep this self safe and to promote this self, to keep this self looking good, no matter how we actually feel on the inside. This false self is like a little bubble in a churning sea trying to hold its form against the ever changing sea it is a part of.
In our heart’s heart, we all know this to be true. We all know that we are acting in a show.
The good news is this. When we forget our false self, we remember who we actually are. We remember that sense of self only when we forget all the false associations and ideas associated with that true sense of being.
And we all secretly know this! It is why we go to gong baths, go get massages, go on vacations, take drugs, watch movies.
We are looking to break free of a kind of prison. A prison of this false self.
The good news is that the only thing needed to break free of the false self is the earnest desire to do so. When we have seen enough suffering in the world, or in our lives, we are ready to find out who we are, and, perhaps more importantly, who we are not.
You are who you are, and you don’t need to be anything else. The key is to realize all the things you are not, and to let them go their way.
The 90 minutes of a gong bath is an act of self-remembering by self-forgetting. This happens partially because of the seductive sounds of the gongs take you beyond your habitual span of attention, but more just by virtue of the big chunk of time, 90 minutes, spent with yourself, takes you naturally beyond the false. It happens without effort. It happens by itself.
As you remember who you are, you lose interest in who you are not. It is this simple.
Benefit #4: Half an hour with no stimulation.
This heading may scare you. We may recognize the value in being in a quiet space with not much going on, but the temptation is to avoid it at all costs. Why? Because we are so used to this information overloaded, always stimulated world we find ourselves in.
But as Bob Marley sang, the things we refuse are the things we could use, and a space with no stimulation is the best situation to induce self-recovery. Recovery of energy. Recovery of clarity. Recovery of our appreciation of who we actually are!
I structure regular sessions so that I play for 60 minutes and then we have 30 minutes of silence. In this silence, participants can stay laying down, or they can sit up, they can meditate if they know how, or they can just be there. They can drink some water, go to the toilet. They just stay quiet and with themselves.
What is cool about this format is that for an hour you go on this journey of sound and vibration. Even though most of the session is gentle beautiful new music, it is a rich meal of vibrations you are consuming.
By the time, the 60 minutes are over, you are well satisfied. You are ready to just be there, with no sounds.
In this way, a gong bath is like a preparation for a golden moment of silence that follows.
Since you are ready for the silence, it turns out to be easy to just be there! It is easy to come back in the room gently and slowly. To remember yourself, to remember your life, but with something new. Something gained. This is gained as much through the silence as the gongs that came before. Maybe more.
No one complains that the 30 minutes are too long. If anything, people wish they could stay there longer! I remember the first time I tried the 30 minutes of silence format. I was a curious how things would go, and a little nervous, but is was a most welcome gift, this 30 minutes.
At the end of the session, there was nothing to say. No words, just lots of smiles.
Benefit #5: Being with others in a session.
Solitude, becoming comfortable being alone, is fantastic. Do doubt about it. Staying silent alone is about the best thing a person can do to recharge and reconnect, but the vast majority of us are not spiritual super athletes. We need each other to support the process of us coming back to truthful self-remembering. There is no shame in this. We need to start where we are.
A gong bath is a group of people where you don’t need to say anything. You share a beautiful moment and this sharing is enough to reinforce the valuable lessons learned, and experiences had.