When we think of meditation, an image of someone sitting cross-legged on a pillow comes to mind; perhaps in a quiet room with candles, hands upturned. But for people who are not quite accomplished in the art of relaxation, meditation can be very difficult. Fortunately, this group of people has a noisier option – gong therapy!
Previously, meditation gongs were only used to signify the beginning or the end of a meditation session. Gong therapy changes all that. Spiritual seekers are going out in search of a “gong bath,” a new technique that actually “bathes” you in sound. Gong therapy advocates claim that the vibrations of the instrument have the ability to shift the brain from its “Beta” or waking state to a “Theta” or “Delta” meditative state. Beyond the gong, this noisy meditation technique includes a number of sounds. It includes chanting and sophrology, which combines chanting, hypnosis, breathing and yoga.
While it may be hard to find a gong class in your area, they are increasing in demand. In order to meet demand, some sound healing experts in England are now hosting five gong classes a week. Special sessions are held during a full or new moon, as these are known to be significant times to meditate.
The health benefits of sound
Interestingly, sound classes attract a wider range of participants than most traditional meditation classes. Everyone from students to pregnant women, spiritual seekers and stressed out executives is likely to show up at a session like this because they see it as a healing modality. Also, unlike physical yoga it does not require any physical agility or strength; anyone can do it.
In addition to gong classes, many people are turning to chanting. According to a recent study by neuroscientists, chanting was shown to reduce heart rate and blood pressure as well as treat chronic stress and addiction.
What is a gong class like?
Many skeptics enter their first gong class with an attitude of distrust, not knowing what to expect. But there is something about the resonant sound of those gongs. Once it starts, it is easy for people to become totally lost in the sound.
The leader of the group will often play two gongs, which often involve sharp and intense sounds. These may range from blissful and pleasant-sounding gongs to louder, almost painful, reverberations. But by the time people leave these classes the effect is obvious. People often remark that “colors started appearing before my eyes,” or the stresses of the day seem like they happened long ago. Many others feel as if they’ve just awoken from a dream, feeling relaxed and surprisingly energized.
Meditation gongs for your home
A number of different gongs have been traditionally used in Asian meditation, and many of these have been adapted for home use. Here are a few of the more popular gongs from Chopa.com.
The Healing Gong is hand crafted using traditional methods and materials. Made from hand-hammered bronze by a master gong maker, this gong has a rich, authentic sound. The wood frame is ash, with a beautiful black and rich cherry finish.
Hardwood & Brass Hanging Meditation Gong
Traditionally used in Zen monasteries to summon the monks to morning meditation, this beautiful instrument offers brilliant sound in an exclusive contemporary design. Quality brass is the focal point of this meditation gong, which is framed by black wood. This beautiful piece measures 17 1/2″ tall and 12″ wide. The diameter of the gong is 10″.
Hanging Bronze Chau Gong
Chinese instrument makers are deserving of their reputation of making the best in the world. Indoors or out in the garden, this bold design will complement any decor. Many traditional processes, such as fine toning and hand-hammering, go into the creation of this remarkable hanging Chau gong and the special sound it makes. It measures 30″ in overall length, 20″ wide. The hand-hammered brass gong measures 13 3/4″ in diameter and is finished in black ash wood. Mallet is included.
Nothing has the ability to transport us to another time and place quite like the brilliant resonance of a gong. For over a thousand years, gongs of various types have played an important role in both the religious and secular music of many Asian cultures. Gongs were sounded to chase away evil spirits, warn of invading armies, heal the sick and invoke the spirits of the dead. To be touched by a gong was said to bring happiness and strength. Today, this revered instrument of warriors, emperors, princes and priests adds a special aura to any setting.