Meditation can seem daunting for many people – sitting in a silent room, ohm-ing and sat in a lotus position isn’t for everyone. And trying not to think (or fidget) is near impossible unless you’ve been practicing for years. Perhaps, you’re looking to find a way to de-stress or you’re simply after just one night of restful sleep. You’ve tried meditation, yoga and working out but you’re still feeling rundown and tired. Well, then it might be worth trying a gong bath.
An ancient way of healing, gong meditations use sound therapy to help relieve tensions in the body, remove emotional blockages and promote better sleep. We went for our very first Gong Bath last week with The Mandarin Spa at the Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong and gong sound therapist and reiki master Anne Fong Braillard and it almost instantly put us at ease. However, that’s not to say there weren’t any hiccups.
After a series of breathing exercises to help calm and focus the mind and the senses, Braillard then lead us through some light, dynamic stretches. These were all done while in lotus but if you find that uncomfortable, you can really sit however you like as long as it feels right for you. We were then asked to lie down on our backs. We can’t stress enough how important it is to make sure you’re comfortable, so make good use of any pillows or towels to rest your head as well as a blanket – your body temperature will drop as your mind and body begin to relax.
Using the gong and a variety of bowls, Braillard starts the gong bath (or gong sound meditation). Despite having studied the techniques on how to play a gong, she insists that each session is different and intuitive – she simply follows her mind and body’s natural response to the gong and its sounds. The sounds and vibrations help to lower your brainwaves from an active state to a meditative state, coaxing you into an almost outer body experience. At first, our mind and body resisted – resulting in a very embarrassing and involuntary yelp and jerk. However, after a few deep breaths, we managed to let our thoughts go. It didn’t feel like we were asleep, nor did we feel like we were awake – we simply were as we were in that moment.
We were slowly brought back out of the session with some higher, more melodic chimes and felt better rested and rejuvenated. A word of caution: you should leave your phone in your bag until at least half an hour after the session has ended. We made the mistake of checking it immediately – a habit many Hong Kongers will relate to – and immediately felt that tension and heaviness return to our body. Much like guided meditations (where your therapist or your app talks you through each session), gong baths are a great way to, for want of a better word, force your mind and body to give you a break. Rather than having to concentrate on what you're doing wrong (or right) and what your mind is doing, the sounds and vibrations of the gongs do most of the work for you.
Everyone's experience is different and many simply fall into a deep sleep rather than a meditative state – but sometimes, that's all you need.