What is a gong bath? During a gong bath you are surrounded and immersed in sounds from gongs, singing bowls, conch shell trumpets, shruti box, voice, crystal bowls, rattles rainstick and many other soothing complementary instruments.
It’s best to bring a yoga / camping mat, blanket and pillow so that you can lie down and make yourself comfortable. You are then immersed in the sounds and vibrations from the gongs and the other sound healing instruments. The gong is wonderful for creating harmony and balance in our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual selves. The sounds interact with our subconscious, quietening our mind and leading us into an altered stand of consciousness. Towards the end of the gong bath more rhythmic instruments are used to help you to get grounded before going home.
There is no water or bath involved in a gong bath. The idea is that you let the sounds wash over you (you are bathed in sound) and by observing and focusing on these sounds, you become more present with the moment, and in turn your mind quietens.
Victoria Dawson Hoff wrote about her experience of a sound bath for Elle “It had been a stressful couple of weeks, and I imagined beforehand that I would struggle with pushing the negative thoughts out of my head. Instead, I was amazed to find that my thoughts drifted to things that I hadn’t recalled in ages—good things. Random scenes from my childhood; the song lyrics I wrote when I was 18 and thought that I wanted to be a musician. I’ve read that memory recall is one of the first signs that meditation is “working” (for lack of a better word); it was obvious that my mind needed that break from the hustle of everyday life to reflect on these random but wonderful moments. After some time, these memories drifted away too, and I just observed the sounds.”
The gong bath is a form of sound therapy that goes back thousands of years. The sound of the gong helps the body and brain to relax by going into Delta and Theta brain wave states. Delta brain waves are experienced in a deep dreamless sleep and in very deep meditation. Theta brain waves occur when we are dreaming: vivid imagery, intuition and information beyond normal consciousness awareness. These brain waves are know to support relaxation, creativity and natural healing.
Our brain waves change according to what we are doing and feeling. When we’re busy, thinking and alert our brain waves are Gamma and Beta. As we all spend so much time on our phones and tablets we are always in a state of alert, we’re waiting for incoming messages from a variety of platforms. It’s hard to shut off from the virtual world and be present in the here and now.
We need to invest in time to relax and put the effort into making this happen. A gong bath is an ideal opportunity to put your screen down for an hour, get into your body and brain in the present moment, relax and just be.
This type of relaxation can activate the vagus nerve. The vagus nerve seems to be getting a lot of good press lately. It is the longest nerve in the body: it starts in the brain and passes through the digestive system, liver, spleen, pancreas, heart and lungs. So the heart, guts and brain all communicate via this nerve, which is why we feel emotion in our stomach. It plays a large part in the parasympathetic nervous system which is the ‘rest and digest’ system. The sympathetic nervous system is our ‘fight or flight’ system, and puts us in states of alertness and anxiety. When we are relaxing, our natural healing and repair systems work in conjunction with the parasympathetic nervous system. So, by activating the vagus nerve at a gong bath you can have a positive influence on your own immune system, health and wellbeing. Therefore, the role of the brain on the body can have a profound effect.
Gong baths are becoming more popular and mainstream. The Evening Standard recently featured a video of a gong bath including attendees experiences, which ranged from deep meditation to a great nights sleep. You can also read about gong baths in the Daily Mail and the gong in the Financial Times
From the Harp are now providing regular gong baths in Portsmouth and Southsea, why don’t you come along and try one?