My friends, do you suffer from cosmic misalignment? Metaphysical disjointedness? Spiritual dissolution? In a phrase, wack-ass qi? If you will recall late last year, we alerted you to the healing properties of sand baths. Basically, donning a hazmat suit and immersing yourself fully into a sandbox full of warmed sand imported from Xinjiang. Now we’re back again to turn you on to yet another fully immersive, qi-busting experience: Gong Baths.
Yes, that’s right.
Gong meditation, a form of sound therapy, has been around for thousands of years as a way of addressing stress and sleep disorders, emotional blockages, digestive ailments, low energy levels and… ummmm… maybe just that feeling of being slightly out of phase with the universe i.e. Neo in The Matrix. The idea is that by enveloping yourself in the overtone vortex of the gong waves you can "alter your brainwaves and adjust vibration fields of cells and bodies," according to the introductory information that was sent over.
A Gong Bath is exactly what it sounds like.
Basically, you just chill as best you can.
And someone wacks a big gong in your face.
And you bathe in the vibes.
The Gong Bath
Before learning about Gong Baths, I had actually been unwittingly self-medicating for most of my life with the concept albums of Canadian progressive metal band Rush. In particular the album 2112 which features drummer Neal Peart’s extensive use of triangles, glockenspiel, wood blocks, cowbells, timpani, gong, and chimes. In Shanghai, I turned to a professional; I turned to accredited Sound and Reiki therapist Valeria Boyko, who leads gong bath sessions in her home. She usually does small groups of "gongstahs" in her living room, treating everyone from high-stakes business people with crazy and important stressful jobs to people like me doing whatever it is I'm doing with my life, whatever my whole deal is, I don't even know.
Blaaaaaaaa, I shoullldd haaavvee gonnnne to llaaaawww schhooool. Ommmmmm.
We start with simple meditative breathing exercises to loosen up the spine and get the qi flowing. Note my Steven Seagal pony tail. That is no accident.
I'm breathing in through my nose and out through my mouth. I could do that basically no problem. NAILED IT. After these breathing and meditative exercises, we had optional chanting, which I opted out of because I felt too self-conscious, and we were ready to begin.
I assume the savasana, also known as the "corpse pose" (NAILED THAT TOO)...
...and we begin.
Oh man. Yeah, it's pretty intense. Immediately, you can feel the sound waves washing over your body as they emanate outwards from the gong and fill the room. It's a physical sort of experience. You can explicitly feel the sound waves -- the prana -- rolling up and down your body, shifting your consciousness around like water rolling on a ship's deck. What can I say, yes indeed I dipped into the ether of the universe, slipped through the fabric of time, waltzed across the ineffable expanse of the cosmos, and blew a zerbert on the belly of God.
And then, according to the SmSh photographer and therapist Valeria I started snoring.
Evidently, however, there is no wrong way to experience a gong bath and indeed a lot of people get soothed and lulled into sleep. They say every experience is unique and every experience is "pukka". Perfect. Which is something I can really embrace. Thinking I can apply this philosophy to everything in life. Everything is pukka, my friends.
Afterwards, we did some light chanting with these sound bowl things. With my body, mind, and soul newly aligned, I did partake a bit this time. And it was lovely.
Walking out into the cool Shanghai winter night after our sessions I felt toasted. Niiiiiiiiicely toasted. Yes, I was baked out of my gourd. Beholden to a springy, sprightly beatitude. Surfing on stardust. Experiencing a sort of blissed out disorientation I’d only hitherto experienced via dime baggies purchased from this ratface called Greg who used to hang out in front of the neighborhood arcade. I entertained thoughts of setting up shop next to Greg at the arcade with my own instrument of the divine. Wacking a gong in the face of the hood-rats for 5 dollars a pop.
Slept really good that night.
Should you do it?
Yeah, man, for sure. Why not? Why not try as many new and interesting things in life? I very much enjoyed my session with Valeria who has a very open and caring personality. Very soothing person, in addition to deftly knowing her way around her gongs.
Which, incidentally, were made in Germany! Huh!
Valeria runs group sessions of five person in the evenings from 7pm to 8.30pm. Participation fee is 150rmb for the group, but she also does private sessions by appointment. Contact her via email at piarahealing AT gmail DOT com to open a dialogue.