Gong Bath History Benefits What to Expect
I have had the pleasure of partaking in this unique therapy recently. It was a very different experience since I have not done any sound healing before. Gong bath is not something new.
That is to say, it is another type of stress relief. No knowledge or special equipment is needed on your part. You just lie back on your mat and take it all in. Therefore, a gong bath is a type of meditation that encourages your whole body to relax and rejuvenate.
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What is a Gong?
The gong is a circular curved percussion instrument that often has a rim folding downward. Gongs come in many different sizes, styles and shapes. Further, it is a flat metal plate that creates a low, reverberating, crashing sound. Besides that, it is typically played by striking the center with a mallet.
Mallets have the following characteristics:
Head: is hard of wood or metal
Wrap: Leather, felt, thick fabric
Shape: disc-shaped, round or diamond-shaped
Head diameter: about 6–15 cm
Shaft length: about 28–35 cm.
There are also a number of mallets that can be used. Some cultures even use their hands.
In order to create a sound the instrument could be struck with a mallet or by rubbing it. For instance, the gong is struck with the mallet right in the center. That is to say, on the knob, this is where the greatest volume and purest tone are created.
The larger the gong, the more it weighs. To achieve the fullest-sounding tone a greater force is required. So, the mallet used should be larger and heavier as well. Certainly, the correct mallet should be utilized for each gong played.
The gong has a precise pitch, a dark timbre and a very full, round sound. Above all, its pitch is easily recognizable at most levels. However, the gong can be struck too hard as the sound can “overshoot” and become unpleasant. In other words, the main reason for this the dynamics are limited.
Its vibrations issue from the center compared to bells that vibrate typically at the rim. Gongs can be shallow or deep rimed (kettle gongs). In addition, they can be bossed (knobbed in the middle) or unbossed. Likewise, rimless gongs even happen sometimes.
Gong sound depends on the type of mallet used:
Where did Gongs Originate?
Gongs originated from the Bronze Age the same time in India, China, Vietnam and the Middle East. In China, the gong was used first to call peasant workers in from the field. That is to say, the instrument is loud enough to be heard like 50 miles away.
During this period it was also used for:
- Announcing ceremonies
For example, in Japan they are still used at the beginning of sumo wrestling contest. Similarly, here in the west they can be heard to announce listing on stock exchanges.
Gongs in Different Cultures
There are pictures of gongs in China from the 6th century CE that were used in Java in the 9th century. In fact, gong is a Javanese word. Java is a very small island with an Indonesian population and Javanese is the language spoken.
Gongs were in use by the Romans at the period of their empire. Astonishing, a deep-rimmed gong was discovered at an excavation site in Wiltshire, England. That is to say, about 100 AD, during the Roman occupation of England.
Flat gongs (gangsa) are shown across South and East Asia, and knobbed gongs mostly in Southeast Asia. The flat kind is played during ensembles in the northern mountains of the Philippines where they are struck by hand similar to drums. As a result, this produces resultant melodies using a variety of rhythmic movements.
And in the southern Philippines the kulintang ensembles play a rack of tuned, knobbed gongs. In East and Southeast Asian religions, knobbed gongs are struck to begin times of chant or ceremony.
Large bossed gong groups like the saing-waing of Myanmar (Burma), pi phat of Thailand, and gamelan of Indonesia still have a rich tradition of concert, theatre, and ceremonial music.
The flat Chinese gong has an indefinite pitch (referred to as tam-tam) has been used in the Western orchestra from the late 20th century. Specific composers directed the gongs to be played by rubbing a violin bow across the edge. In short, sometimes, orchestral music requires the use of deep-rimmed gong chimes. And acoustically, steel drums like those from Trinidad are multiple-tones gongs.
What is a Gong Bath?
It has been intertwined with sound bath but the gong bath actually plays a gong during the session. Other references are sound healing or a type of meditation.
You are immersed in the vibrations of these instruments during the session. That is to say a bath of sound. It is accessible to everyone. No knowledge or experience is required.
Participants can bring along pillows or a blanket from home. These items are usually available for you as well as a mat for you to lie down on the floor. If there is an issue with this a chair can be provided. Likewise, if you are light sensitive, you can bring along eye coverings. Certainly, this is all for your comfort.
The practitioner may introduce the instruments to be played and what they sound like. Ours demonstrated the sound of whales on his gong. You could be encouraged to do breathing exercises or mantra chanting so you are relaxed and prepared for the experience. Likewise, the gongs and other instruments are gradually played.
Gongs give off vibrations that your entire body will absorb. These vibrations can assist in moving stagnant energies.
In addition to the gong other sound healing tools included could be:
- Crystal/China or Tibetan bowls
- Indian flute
- Tuning forks
- Chanting or mantra chanting
Gong Bath: What Takes Place?
The theory is when something inside of you is not intune it causes di-sease to occur in your body.
Factors in your daily life can have a negative impact like:
In addition, these can manifest on a physical, emotional, mental and spiritual level.
The vibrations created during a gong bath assist to “tune” your body. In other words, it restores harmony and resonance entirely. As well as entrainment takes place.
This is synchronization of your fluctuating brainwaves with the stable frequency of the gong. Thus, your brain will acclimate to and unify with the gong.
Your brain can reach a state of deep relaxation with the sound of a gong. That is to say, the delta and slowest theta brainwave state in humans. Often these states are reached when you daydream or are in deep sleep. In short, they are known to support relaxation, creativity and natural healing.
It is challenging for your brain to follow the sounds of the gong. Likewise, you will go into a deep meditative state at least once with the session.
Gong Bath: What to Expect
Each experience could be absolutely unique. However, gong bathers possible experiences could range from visions to epiphanies, helpful solutions or colorful journeys.
Because gong baths are a type of meditation where your mind can become quiet you can discover inspiration, new ideas or break through. Bringing a journal could assist with writing these thoughts down after your session.
Harmonics from the gong healing can retune any emotional disharmony in your body. You could experience different emotions and reactions like laughing, crying, fear or anger. This would include other emotions in between. After that, many bathers report a sense of peace.
On the other hand, the experience of vibrations in the body is a physical aspect. There are intense and powerful sound waves and vibrations created from the instruments used. In conclusion, you could encounter this energetic clearing with your limbs shaking or twitching (I felt this).
I attended the community group which is very affordable at $20 a session. In attendance were 14 other individuals.
How does the Gong Bath Work?
Sounds created by the gong work to stimulate your vagus nerve. As a result, this aids to reduce your stress hormones. For instance, your vagus nerve is the longest cranial nerve. It extends from your brain to many of your organs.
You can find it on either side very close to your ear. And the vagus nerve is a large part of your parasympathetic system.
As the gong creates low rumbling vibrations which enter your ear canals these stimulate the nerve because of its location. Your brain receives a signal that the body is safe. So, your heart and breath rate slow down.
However, the opposite could happen too. The sharp sound could give you the experience of feeling agitated or nervous. Thus, your heart could beat faster. In other words, your autonomic nervous system takes that certain high pitch sound as dangerous. So, your heart rate increases.
Gong Bath Benefits
Those who took part in gong bath studies said it improved sleep quality. So, symptoms of insomnia decreased.
Gong baths can support more mindfulness and promote a meditative state. As a result, it improves overall well-being.
Emotional Blockages from Trauma
The gong bath can also stimulate altered states of consciousness. Overall stillness and contentment can be encouraged as well.
Gong bath studies have also reported participates had less anxiety. This included diminished levels of worry and nervousness.
Further, gong baths have been connected with improving one’s mood. So, symptoms associated with depression declined.
Immune Function Improves
As they have been connected with improved immune function, like more production of cytokines and natural killer cells.
This healing can help:
- Anxiety disorders
- Mood swings or negative emotions
- Psychological and behavioral disorders
Manifest emotional and physical healing such as:
- Improving memory and concentration
- Help with sleep
- Clarity and balance
- Immune system becomes healthier
- More awareness with self and environment
Gong Bath and How Often?
No set rule applies to how often you should go. But the majority discovered that once a week or once a month fulfills their need. Typically, a gong bath last from 30 to 90 minutes.
Gong baths can be found at:
- Yoga studios
- Meditation spaces
- Health clinics
- Wellness retreats
- YouTube videos
Wrapping it up
The gong bath is the only sound therapy that utilizes a gong during the session. Its vibrations work on your vagus nerve to reduce cortisol. Further, this type of meditation encourages your whole body to relax and rejuvenate. In conclusion, a gong bath is a very affordable stress management and wellness service.
Mary is the founder of All About Our Skin. Former esthetician and CPC. Enjoys researching skincare and has been studying our skin for the past fifteen years.
https://www.britannica.com/art/gong-musical-instrument britannica, Guide to a Gong: Musical Instrument, accessed 07/07/2023
https://www.vsl.info/en/academy/percussion/gong#sound-production Vienna Symphonic Library, Gong Sound Production, accessed 07/07/2023
https://triyoga.co.uk/blog/yoga/gong-bath-for-beginners/ triyoga, Gong Bath: a Beginner’s Guide, accessed 07/05/2023
https://www.lanecrawford.com/discover/gong-baths-what-to-know Lane Crawford, Gong Baths: What to Know, accessed 07/05/2023
https://www.womenshealthmag.com/uk/health/a43627969/gong-bath/ Women’s Health Magazine, Gong Bath: what it is, plus 4 Health Benefits to Know About, accessed 07/05/2023
https://www.delamora.life/blog/gong-healing-instrument Delamora Transformational Experiences, Gongs in Sound Healing and Meditation Practices, accessed 07/05/2023