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Gong with the wind: an effortless way to quiet the mind by meditating with sound

July 30, 2019
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Talking about gong does not do it much justice - it is one of those things that you have to experience. Besides, most people find gong baths to be very different from their initial expectations. But let me give it a try.

For an average city-dweller, like myself, the mind can be a very noisy place. Thoughts… and so many of them.

In fact most of these thoughts are repetitive, useless and sometimes harmful. However, just becoming aware of the thoughts does not always bring about a lasting quiet - too often we get carried away with that nasty next thought.

But in the moments when we manage to escape from that constant stream of repetitive thought patterns - we sometimes find ourselves in that blissful state of calm.

There are so many techniques out there helping us to achieve just that. Or at least claiming to do so. I have been practicing TM (Transcendental Meditation) for a couple of years now and find it really helpful in unwinding the mind and giving it deep nourishing rest. From time to time I also practice yoga nidra, which is a type of guided meditation where an instructor helps you to go in an out of the depths of your mind. Some people also like to practice various mindfulness techniques. There are even apps now that walk you through a simple meditation session step-by-step.

When they are practiced correctly, the common thread between these techniques, is the state of wakeful alertness - that gap in between what we call being awake and being asleep.

In that state one experiences true relaxation - the kind that even sleep does not provide - and all that while your consciousness is functioning at a deeper level of awareness. Coming back from such state one feels a sense of fulfilment - and for some time thereafter the chatter quiets down, allowing you to stay grounded in the present moment.

The only issue is that "when practiced correctly” bit. What does that even mean? How do you learn to "practice correctly” and, most importantly, who has time for that?  

One of the things I like the most about gong is how effortless and simple it is.

Compared to the other meditation techniques, where you have to get your head around the paradox of “trying to relax”, in a gong class (at least the way it is practiced at the GONG studio) you only have to wrap yourself in a blanket, place a lavender-scented eye pillow on your face and just listen.

As the vibrations of the gong slowly and rhythmically begin to intensify - you find yourself immersed in a mystical outer space-like sound waves of this seemingly simple metal plate. This pleasant sound creates a space in which you become dissociated from your thoughts. It is really as simple as that.

As far as meditation goes, gong bathing is the most effortless method for inducing physical, mental and emotional relaxation I have encountered so far.

What is more, you can actually feel the sound travel through your body and as the cells in your body start vibrating at this frequency. If you pay enough attention, you can sense how your body starts to loosen up.

As someone with a propensity for an all-questioning attitude à la “am I doing this right”, I found it very gratifying to have that tangible sign of affirmation. What could I be doing wrong if I can feel it’s working so well?

I find the idea of having a quick 30-minute pre-lunchtime gong session brilliant - you feel relaxed, uplifted and more energetic - the thoughts are no longer as loud in your head, and there is much more space to deal with the experiences that the rest of the day throws at you. A short yet powerful retreat from the daily office routine - what a way to save on that 5th coffee cup.

I also found that similarly to other meditation techniques, the more you practice the longer the effects stay with you - your nervous system becomes more resilient and you feel more balanced overall.

The simplicity of gong really resonates with me (pun intended). You could go into a class, completely clueless about what a gong is and still enjoy it a lot - no need to master your lotus pose first.

Now, as one of my co-workers likes to say around lunchtime “boys and girls, let’s hit the gong".


Nodar is an avid meditator, explorer of the mind and Gong regular.

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