Gongs, Stillness, and True Relaxation.
Last Tuesday night I attended my first ever Gong Therapy session, in Huntington Beach, California. I found it though MeetUp.com, a website that offers activities and groups based on your pre-selected interests. On a Monday afternoon, the Gong Therapy Meetup flashed across my screen. I was initially very curious as to what this exactly was. As I read the blurb on the page I grew increasingly interested. So much so, that I pulled out my yoga mat and a pillow the next day and attended the class.
As I approached the late 1960s multiplex single-story structure of spread-out offices and studios, I did my best to find the class. As I navigated turn after turn of seemingly endless rows, I became increasingly confused. I finally found the correct studio, but by this point, I was ten minutes late. There was only one way to enter, and it was right past the instructor. For the sake of the class, I decided it was best to sit right outside.
It turned out to be a blessing. I rolled out my mat and pulled out my notepad making myself as comfortable as possible next to the door. If I had been inside, I wouldn’t have felt comfortable enough to take notes during class. However, sitting outside, I had no reservations. I listened, experienced and wrote during the first part of the session. I had the opportunity to write down a lot of meaningful and helpful information that I have reflected upon since.
A few of my favorite lines that I heard, and am glad I had the opportunity to write down were:
“Breathe down to the ego, to the truth, and let go,” “let go of negativity… release its dance card,” ”Step into your calling,” and “I am stronger than I know I am.”
The instructor began by setting a mantra. This first part was about centering and quieting yourself. The initial session lasted an hour and mixed elements of yoga and reiki.
The class took a break after about an hour. It was the perfect opportunity for me to move into the room, I found a place close to the corner and rolled out my mat once again. I watched as the instructors walked over and took their places near the center of the room. The lights were turned off, they picked up their mallets and they began to play, just like that.
This session began in complete darkness except for the tiny candles illuminating the corners of the room. As the gongs played, what I was immediately struck by is how I felt their instruments. The cadence and musical decay settles into your body and further even, into your soul. The instructors played the gongs in seamless harmony. There was no way of knowing where one picked up from another. The music that stemmed from them was heavy at times and light and feathery at others. As I lay there in the darkness, I not only listened to the rhythmic and reverberating sounds, but felt them as well.
The session continued and the music seeped further into me.
The Gong session lasted 40 minutes.
That was the hardest part. After about twenty minutes of lying perfectly still I had the impulse to just get up. I couldn’t be quiet any more, I just couldn’t stop the thoughts. Or so I thought, I calmed myself once again, and truly enjoyed the final twenty minutes.
I should add that I have experienced deep relaxation in yoga countless times before. This gong experience was more intense, more lasting, and more spiritual for me.
After the class, the instructors and gong players were gracious enough to speak to me. Sara Yarbrough, Bianca Feuerman and Dana Paterson were all incredibly knowledgeable and so willing to share their work. Sara who is also a Kundalini Yoga teacher, mentioned that gongs found her (not the other way around). They kept presenting themselves in her life. She felt particularly drawn to them because “they silence the chatter in your mind.” She explained that in the international gong community, they all know one another. She had the opportunity to study both here, in the U.S., and in Europe. She mentioned, very interestingly, that gong masters are so well-trained that they can play for the release of specific ailments.
I really enjoyed this experience. It’s several days later now, and I still feel more relaxed and centered. I liked it so much that I’m going back next week. If you ever have the opportunity, I definitely recommend gong therapy.
More in holistic health: Quiz – Which Chakra Do You Need to Balance?
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Photo: Alex Kudukis