Sound healing; The Power of a Gong
Saved by the Gong?
In this day and age there is sadly much scope for stress. With work, rent, children, education, socialising, technology and much more; one can easily feel overwhelmed. A recent trend to emerge is a form of sound therapy: gong meditation. The Inava Pavani team sat down with Kundalini yoga instructor and gong practitioner Akasha Kaur to learn more about the meditation.
So what exactly is a gong bath?
A gong bath is essentially a practice that includes vibrations and therapeutic sounds to relax the mind and induce spiritual healing. The practice is referred to as a "bath" due to the enveloping of the body with sound waves from the gong. The goal of gong meditation is to enable its participants to be "in the present moment" with awareness, appreciation and free of judgement.
How long does a typical gong bath last?
It depends on the experience of the student. A gong bath can range from up to 7 to 45 minutes, some can go up to an hour. In my classes beginner participants would receive a gong bath for 15 minutes. Some individuals may even want to start with a smaller amount of time. As a practitioner it is vital I listen to my students and understand what their capacities are- so I usually recommend them to start with 15 minutes. In contrast, more experienced returning students can partake in a session lasting 45 minutes.
Personally, I end my kundalini yoga classes with a gong bath that leaves my students feeling refreshed and relaxed. The effects of relaxation can be felt even up to three days after. Many participants express feeling lighter and cleaner after the bath. Hence the name "bath"; a feeling of being washed by sound overcomes the body. As a practitioner it is perhaps the most rewarding thing to hear participants feeling less stressed after.
What can one expect from the moment they walk into class?
The set up consists of soft to skin yoga mats laid out on the floor where participants can lie down on. Cushions are offered but some may decide to bring their own. Blankets are also provided for a feeling of warmth. I usually recommend students to lie down with their eyes shut, free of preconceived notions and judgements for the best experience.
The bath begins when the practitioner tunes in with a mantra and commences playing the gong. Sometimes, I may end the session utilising a sound bowl which is fantastic for grounding. Although this is a group experience, it is much like a private one as well. Students can come up to me after class at their own will and share their private experiences. Respect must be given to each participant where they need not feel any pressure to share with the rest of the group. Hence I speak privately to students that feel like sharing, unless they are comfortable enough to express themselves in front of other participants.
How does this deep sound help the human body and mind?
As a practitioner, I do not have a set rhythm to playing the gong. I change it frequently, as the brain tends to identify and follow patterns. This is when entrainment takes place, meaning brainwave frequencies change. The mind first enters into an alpha wave state: this is where imagination, daydreaming and associative thinking takes place. It then follows with theta brainwave frequencies- the frequencies that occur during REM sleep and also during deep meditation. This is a state of consciousness where deep meditation can occur and students can truly feel relaxed. The vibrations of the gong assists in reducing stress and sometimes even emotional blockages. Sound can act as an anchor for the mind to come back to rather than wandering. Similar to being mindful about breath, being mindful of sound is just as powerful.
To keep up with Akasha you can follow her here