Forget the bong. You want a consciousness altering experience? Try a gong bath.
A gong bath. I hadn’t heard of it either, so if you have no idea what I’m talking about, hang in there, I’ll explain.
This experience was offered in Santa Fe, New Mexico, during a week of training with Anusara® yoga’s founder, John Friend. After the last training session of the day, we cleared the room and Richard Rudis, a practitioner of Tibetan Buddhism and skilled gong bath guy came in.
I’ll have to tell you, I was a little nervous. I’m pretty sound sensitive, so I tried to get a place further away from the gong. Well, I ended up shaking my head as Richard addressed that idea before he started, saying it won’t get any less intense further out, and the corners tend to amplify the sound. There I was, sitting in the corner.
Yet the way he described it made me feel like it would be okay, as the most loud and intense part he said only lasted for a minute or two. I figured I’d survive.
We all laid down on our backs, heads facing the gong.
He started with tingshas which are the little chime bells you may have heard in yoga class. These clear the space and bring in a loving, protective energy. Then he played Tibetan Singing Bowls for a minute or so, which were very beautiful and compassionate in tone.
When he started playing the gong the first sounds were deep and aquatic. Someone later remarked that one of the voices of the gong sounded like whale song. It’s amazing how many different sounds can come out of a single instrument.
As the sounds changed and built in energy and intensity, I witnessed my own experience. For the most part I saw colors. At first there was an empty black, almost like a dingy bar. I’ll call that my fear and resistance, and it left quickly enough, giving way to all kinds of pretty colors.
Whenever my mind wandered or my body complained about how hard the mat was underneath me, I brought my awareness back to my breath and the shades of light that were dancing in my mind.
At the climax, the loud intensity I had been warned of, I was surprised that I wasn’t uncomfortable. Instead I was totally engulfed in white light. There was nothing else. It penetrated my crown chakra. The sound took out all boundaries, and replaced them with a oneness of high frequency vibration that was truly awesome!
There was a moment in that intensely bright sound where I thought to myself, “I wonder if this is what dying sounds like…” Because it was such a complete place of transformation; a threshold of energy.
I found that an interesting observation.
As he brought us back down from that penetrating totality of sound, I felt the color pink cocoon me. I saw filaments of pink light wrap around me with such compassionate love. I felt like a small child in a state of total content.
“Pink,” I thought, and was happy.
When it was over, there was a room full of very high people buzzing contentedly.
It took me a while to get anywhere near tired enough to go to bed, so I enjoyed the company of friends who were also in a state of childlike joy and peaceful highness.
Like any art, some are more skilled than others at playing the gong. John Friend, who has experienced this at other times, said that Richard is one of the best he’s been to. Though I have nothing to compare it to, I’d have to agree, and would jump at the chance to do it again.
The buzz lasted well into the next day, and I’m not so sure it wasn’t a life changing shift.
Of all the consciousness altering substances out there, the sound of the gong bath may be one of the purest transformational experiences available. If you’re curious and drawn to it, I highly suggest you try it.
Here’s Richard’s Gong Bath schedule: if you’re anywhere near where he’s gonna be, check this out!
A video of the man who facilitated this amazing trip!
And a video about tingshas – super interesting!
- Have you ever experienced altered consciousness through sound? Comment below to share! (Or leave a comment to share your thoughts on this article if you’re so inclined.)