Qigong teacher Daniela Nea Cho Hauri has a unique perspective on how to best approach a gong bath. She is a wonderful teacher of Qigong who I am proud to call my partner in all the sessions I offer that have qigong and gong baths.
We have a weekly session, New Moon Sessions every 3 months or so and now we are about to have a one day special session. (To see what sessions we have coming up, click here.)
Currently many attendees of gong baths have come once. Others have come a few times. Some come regularly. Daniela is one such person. For the past few months, she has come to a gong bath every week
So Daniela is highly qualified to help us get the most out of our gong bath experience.
I had a conversation with her today about this. I asked her what is her ‘recipe for gong bath success?’
This summarizes her answers.
1. Breathe through challenges.
For the most part a gong bath is filled with gentle sounds that send you deep into a fully relaxing state. But sometimes, gongs can get intense. They can be loud. They can create sounds which take us beyond our comfort zone. The unique gong sounds can bring up every kind of emotions as the vibrations move through our bodies. The may even be fear in moments, though it is always safe. It is just the nature of sound to trigger thoughts and emotions.
Daniela’s advice in such moments: Breathe through what shows up. ‘A lot of people are afraid about the loudness. They worry: ‘I cannot sustain this.’ Really helpful is to focus on breathing you feel the loudness is coming. Just focus on breathing and let the loudness go through the body like waves. Like waves that go and go.’
2. Stop pressuring yourself.
Many people have this belief that they need to be just right to have a good gong bath. They feel they need to have the right thoughts, or no thoughts, that they need to feel pleasure throughout the experience. They have this desire to have a ‘great experience,’ and they put a lot of pressure on themselves.
Daniela says this is unnecessary. It is better just to come as you are and give yourself a big break from all the ‘could be’s, should be’s and would be’s.’
She says, ‘One good thing about gong baths, like Qigong, is that they help people, as they are in the moment. If they are tired, it gives them energy. If they are restless, with too much energy, it calms them down. It works with the body and the mind as they are.’
This is good news. It means you don’t have to wait for a ‘good moment’ to enjoy the benefits. You don’t have to be a spiritual athlete to move forward. Simply showing up is enough.
So take the pressure off yourself. It is ok to think. It’s ok to think about anything! It is ok to sleep. It is ok to feel positive, or negative, or nothing special at all. Everything you experience belongs to the gong bath experience….as it is.
3. There is nothing to achieve.
People often believe they need to get something from out of a gong bath. Naturally we all come with certain expectations. Maybe it is the expectation for an experience previously had, for example. In this case, we may spend half the gong bath comparing this experience with that other experience. Even though every gong bath is unique, we wish to recreate the joy of last time. This never works.
Or we want to relax and get into a calm state. There is nothing wrong with this wish. It is one of the chief benefits of a gong bath. But we don’t want to get stressed out trying to calm our busy minds, but when we are trying to ‘achieve calmness,’ that is exactly what we do. We stress ourselves trying to relax.
Here, Daniela makes it simple. The attitude that there is nothing to achieve is the right kind of attitude when coming to a gong bath. Curiosity and openness will take you far, without you even trying. I like to say, with a gong bath you may not get what you want, but you will certainly get what you need.
She says, ‘Just just let it happen. It’s like a journey. So if you go on a journey, open your mind, open your heart, open your body and just let it flow and see what comes and that’s it.’
4. When it’s over, move on.
Many people want to talk about the gong bath experience, after it is over. This is partially a result of a previous mistake I made. In the past, I encouraged people to ‘give feedback.’ I did this for years. Finally, I realized it wasn’t needed and I created the Satgong, which is a gong bath followed by ½ hour of silence. Before, there was always encouragement for people to give feedback.
Because I finally realized that it is better to just be with your experience.
As anybody who has been to a gong bath could tell you, when the last sound has faded into silence, the effects in your body, emotions and mind are actually still going on. Also, much (most?) of what happens at a gong bath is non-verbal. There simply are no words to describe your experience. Further, the best parts of a gong bath happen beyond our awareness. Under the surface.
On some level, we don’t notice what is happening, what is shifting. Often changes are subtle, below the surface. Changes that may seem minuscule can be the difference that ends up making the biggest contribution to our lives. Examples are subtle blockages in the body, emotional completions, answers to questions we have been asking for ages, or even just a general better state of mind and mood.
To reduce this magical moment at the end of a session to a bunch of words and thoughts doesn’t help the process. Not usually. It is usually best to simply be with the experience at the end, and refrain from talking about it. At least not right away. It is best to just sit with it. This is what most of us do naturally anyway, when we are allowed to.
As Daniela says, ‘After a gong bath, don’t think too much about it. Don’t analyze what you felt was wrong or right or enough or too little or whatever. Treat it like you just took a shower, something like this.’
I love this analogy. If you take a shower, for example, afterwards, when you’re drying off, you don’t think ‘what kind of shower was that?’ ‘I really liked that part when I raised my left arm to wash my left armpit.’ We don’t do that with showers. OK, full disclosure. I often talk to myself about what a ‘nice shower I had.’ I often appreciate the improvement in smell, and the feeling of being refreshed. But I don’t analyze the experience. You don’t either, Right?
For some reason we like to analyze our gong baths. Daniela again: ‘We tend to do that, especially when we do something new. We want to understand what we did and how it happened. I think the best approach to the experience is that of a small child with an open mind, just curious and open. You enjoy the experience as it is and with no need to think ‘why I did this and that.’ When it’s over, let it be over, yes, let it be gone. Move on with your day…and come back another time.’
Conclusion: The recipe for gong bath success comes down to simply showing up, taking it easy, letting it do what it does, and when it is over, to move on, so you can come again…no more and no less than this! It takes practice, and the good news is the practice is fun and brings lots of joy. So here is to the gong bath practice and the Qigong practice!