If you have ever been to one of my gong baths there is a good chance that you have heard me say some version of the following: ‘you cannot do this gong bath wrong.’
I say this because it is true. At a gong bath, you can think what you think, feel what you feel, sleep, snore, fart, sneeze, and you will still get the benefits. And in a world where we are constantly challenged to ‘be our best,’ this is a great relief.
That is why I make a point to let you know that ‘It is impossible to do it wrong, ‘ and that ‘every thought, feeling and sound belongs to the experience.’
In my opinion, the biggest contributors to you getting value from a gong bath comes from a.) the fact that you invested the time, money, and energy in your well being…this is always a good choice which mose you forward and expands your awareness, and b.) The fact that you lay down and stay quiet for an hour. Nothing that happens at a gong bath is so valuable to you the shift in the quality of your thoughts, feelings and bodily experience as just being on the mat in stillness for an hour.
All of this is TREMENDOUS. It is so valuable that it is almost silly for me to suggest it can be better. But guess what? It can be better! 🙂
As I think about the hundreds of gong baths I have given over the years, and all the feedback I have heard from the attendees, I recognize a few common steps people take which turn a good gong bath into something sublime and life changing.
Here are 7 steps you can take to get the most from your gong bath:
Step One: Come with a fairly empty stomach.
To get the most out of a gong bath, you don’t want your body to be busy digesting a meal you just ate. For it is the same energy your body uses for digestion as your mind uses to concentrate deeply. If the energy is diverted to your stomach, you will have less energy and attention to take in and fully digest the gong bath. A little hunger can be a good thing. It will make you more sensitive to the sounds and feelings, giving you a more exquisite experience. Before a gong bath, eat only lightly if absolutely necessary. Better still, don’t eat at all. Plan to eat at least two or three hours before a session.
Step Two: Come 15 minutes early.
Put it in your calendar to be there 15 minutes early. There are many advantages to this. It gives you the chance to make the gong bath room your own. It gives you the time to settle in. You get to choose where you wish to be in the room. You get to transition from your mind all the activities of the day, to the moment at hand. This is HUGE. You can actually start your gong bath earlier by laying down and acting as if the session has already begun, listening to all the sounds of the people coming in, and so on. This will make you more receptive and relaxed so that when the gong bath does start, it may take you even deeper.
Step Three: Say hi to your fellow gong bathers.
A gong bath is a communal process as much as it is an individual journey. If you think about it, this is clear. For an hour, you breathe with these people, you lay down next to them. Wordlessly, you all experience the journey through sound into deep relaxation together.
Connecting with a person or two before the session will help create this sense of togetherness, this sense of community. This sense of shared experience, creating more joy all around. Of course, if you just want to be with yourself, there is nothing wrong with this and people will let you be alone, if that is your mood.
Step Four: Save your questions about the gongs for another time.
As strange as it may seem, a gong bath is not about the gongs, or me the gong player. It isn’t even about the sound. A gong bath is about you and your well being. It is a moment for you to increase your well being. That is the point. Sure, the gong bath may sound beautiful and interesting and musical, but it goes way beyond being a performance.
A gong bath is primarily a chance for you to be still, deeply relaxed, and to become aware of your innermost self. The gong sounds, healing though they are, beautiful though they are, are really no more nor less than a support to take you deeply into the magic of the moment.
So for this reason, forget about me and the gongs and how I created this or that sound, and focus on you! You deserve that.
Step Five: Have a buddy come with you.
If it is your first gong bath, depending on your personality, having a buddy come with you may make it easier for you to attend at all, but beyond that having someone to go with you comes with other benefits too.
A gong bath is a unique experience and when you share it with a loved one or friend, the uniqueness gives way to a shared experience. The fact that it is shared makes it more ‘real,’ more tangible, more integrated with your regular life. This may make it easier for you to integrate the experience; making it a normal function of your life.
Also, if you wish to come regularly, (and if you enjoyed your session, they just get better and better, deeper and deeper) it may help to have a partner to come with you…like working out. I know many friends that have come together repeatedly for years. They consider it to be a valuable way to spend time together.
This question of having another come with you or coming alone, is really dependent on your personality. Still, if you are a person who likes to share in activities, why not share in activities that transform your life in good ways!
Step Six: Just Note ‘Gone.’
This step is simple: When the session is complete, say to yourself ‘this session is over. It is gone.’
This idea comes from spiritual teacher Shinzen Young. He wrote an article called Just Note Gone (find the article here.)
He said of this practice ‘I teach many practices, but if I could only teach one, this would be the one practice I think everyone should do.’
Why? Because this practice trains the mind to recognize that all experiences are transitory. They come, they go. The habit most of us have which leads to suffering of every variety is our wish for continuity, or a repetition of positive experiences. This is just not possible. Life is always changing.
As this is true in every area of life, it is also true of gong baths. No gong bath is like any other gong bath. Every regular attendee knows the truth of this statement.
It is a mistake to compare gong baths, no matter how wonderful a previous experience was. It is a very good idea to acknowledge early and often that the experience, once it is over, is gone!
Step Seven: The Loving Kindness Meditation
This meditation is EASY.
Simply identify a person in your mind and silently, to yourself, wish them happiness.
Gong baths, and meditation in general, tends to be very me-focused. This is exactly as it should be. The quality of your life improves through the attention you give to yourself.
Still, there is a way to make for more pleasant thoughts and emotions as you go along.
What’s lovely about this meditation is that it takes the focus off of your personality, with its likes and dislikes and desires and fears and brings your focus to the bigger you; the one that includes all of us!
As you connect with this greater identity of who we are, happiness is never far behind. That is the power of the loving kindness meditation.
Fostering this attitude of love and kindness towards others is really a simple way of just expanding the sense of love and kindness towards all experience that we have in ourselves. We start to feel happier with who we are when we do this for others. And it may help them to… Who knows? 🙂
Do this meditation before every gong bath and the thoughts of loving kindness will sink into your subconscious like a seed of a beautiful flower.
In Conclusion: You get what you give.
There are so many ways to improve and optimize our lives. Basically, as we intend and as we act, so we experience and so we learn. So it is.
My intention in giving gong baths is to give you a deep moment with yourself that can be energizing, healing and ultimately transformational in a spiritual sense. Hopefully one, some or all of these steps will be of service to you. If you try them, please let me know how it goes for you! See you at a gong bath 🙂