Back
Back
  • Gong disc.
    1

    Deep relaxation through gong vibrations.

    Gentle frequencies that allow you to let go of your thoughts.

    Text: Claudio Rimmele

The gong bath – an immersion in frequencies.

A yoga studio in a tenement building in Berlin’s Neukölln district. The lights are softly dimmed. The guests tiptoe to their places, whispering quietly to one another. People of all ages sit down on the floor in a tight group. In the middle hangs a huge gong, whose bronze surface reflects the light of a candle. Suddenly it is quiet. The gong master enters the room. He explains how to experience the gong meditation: you can sit or lie down, or try changing position during the meditation. After a short breathing exercise we are ready to begin our immersion in the frequencies, or gong bath. At first it is difficult to close your eyes and engage with the wafting tones, but soon your hearing can no longer discern when and how hard the master is hitting the gong. The vibrations of the sound frequencies give you goosebumps and the sound is all around. It almost feels as if your whole body is vibrating in sympathy.


Gong disc.
Gong disc.

The success story of the gong.

For many, the image of the gong is associated with Asian culture; in India, China, Indonesia and Japan, the gong is an integral part of folk festivals and traditions. However, the origins of the gong very probably lie in Europe – in ancient Greece, to be precise. It appears in a well-known Greek myth which tells that Chronos, the god of time, ate all his children. In order to spare the life of the new-born god Zeus, Chronos’ wife ordered two men to drum on bronze shields loudly enough to cover the sound of the baby’s cries. Now in honour of these bronze shields, every flash of lightning Zeus creates is followed by the sound of a gong. At least, that was how the ancient Greeks explained thunder.


Healing effect of the gong.

The gong most likely arrived in Asia with Alexander the Great. At first it was used as an instrument of war, for communication between armies or to intimidate the enemy. In Europe the gong disappeared with the decline of the ancient Greeks, but in Asia it became more widespread, also being used in meditation and therapeutic practices. The healing effect of the gong only became known in the west in the 1960s. The gong was imported with yoga into the United States from India and used in meditation, especially in California. After a period of some years, the American trend also became established in yoga studios in Europe. Now gong meditation is offered in all larger towns and cities.


Gong disc.
  • Gong disc.
    1

Effect on body and mind.

In spite of its new-found popularity there have not been any scientific studies of the direct effect of the gong’s frequencies on the human body. So far it has only been shown that the special tones have a stress-reducing effect – one which is already being put into practice by music therapists. Gong meditation can be especially helpful for people who find it difficult to empty their minds of thoughts during meditation to achieve a state of deep relaxation.


The sound bath experience is also wonderful exercise in mindfulness for the whole body. The feeling of the sensual sounds on your skin helps you to go within yourself and become aware of your own body. Sound meditation is now very popular in therapies for stress-related illnesses and is being used more and more frequently to support conventional therapy treatments.


Woman is holding a gong.

A bath in the sounds of the gong.

In the yoga studio in Neukölln, the gong gradually falls silent. The gong master explains in a quiet voice that we should roll onto our sides and slowly sit up again. We feel slightly woozy, as if waking from a dream. But there is a feeling of altered perception: even on the way home the noise and bright lights of the city seem much friendlier. A gong meditation is an unusual experience unlike any other perception of sound. Of course, you can listen to a gong via a music app, but nothing can produce the vibrations and effects like the actual instrument itself. It’s definitely worth a try.