by Lisa Gniady
Have you ever gotten “gonged”? Why would you want to do that? Isn’t that the loud instrument they bang on “The Gong Show”? How could that be relaxing?
All things gong-related are on the rise for good reason: They work. Gong relaxation, for example, brings you to a different place and time, away from everyday stress that so many of us experience daily. You come to a place of deep relaxation much needed in today’s busy world.
Wave after healing wave of sound penetrates deep into your cells releasing stuck energy.
What a concept: No phones, no distractions – you unplug and allow the gong’s sound vibrations to glide over your body. Wave after healing wave of sound penetrates deep into your cells releasing stuck energy. Your only job? Come as you are, show up, experience and let the gong do the work for you. Starting to seem less strange?
THE ART OF GONG PLAYING
What isn’t widely recognized is that gong playing is an intuitive art form and each player’s style matches his or her energetic vibration. No two sessions are alike, and they all offer different benefits. Individual taste and preference come into play, as well as how you resonate with the energy of the gong practitioner. Some classes incorporate multiple gongs, some use drums, singing bowls and other instruments. Understand, the gong is not a musical instrument – it’s a healing instrument. And in turn, the gong player becomes an instrument of the gong.
You can learn the basics of how to play, but the gong really plays you. Your ego steps aside while playing and you become an open vessel, like a straw, for the energy to pour through. Playing the gong is an evolutionary process and as you continue to explore your playing evolves.
“There is only one thing that can supersede and command the human mind: The sound of the gong.” –Yogi Bhajan
Yogi Bhajan, Master of Kundalini Yoga, brought the gong mainstream in the early 1970s. He suggested that all Kundalini Yoga centers have a gong and that the gong should be played to help balance the glandular systems and calm the minds of the hippie movement.
“The Gong is the first and last instrument for the human mind,” he said. “There is only one thing that can supersede and command the human mind: The sound of the gong. It is the first sound in the universe, the sound that created this universe. It’s the basic creative sound. To the mind, the sound of the gong is like a mother and father that gave it birth. The mind has no power to resist a gong that is well played.”
WHAT TO EXPECT AT A CLASS
In my classes – in accordance of what Kundalini Yoga training encourages – I always incorporate either meditation, breath work or yoga. The blending of these practices prepare the nervous system to be more receptive to the gong, enhancing each participant’s experience. So bring a yoga mat, a blanket to lay on and a cushion to sit on so you can be as comfortable as possible and come open to all possibilities.
“[Gong] is the most harmonious healing experience I have [had] so far.” –Eileen S.
My preparation includes chanting aloud “Tune in Mantras” to link me to the energy of the gong. I then mentally vibrate the words, “Love, serve, remember” from a song by Harnam Singh. This reminds me that playing the gong is a gift and a privilege and that when I play, it is about sharing love and serving the people in the room. It is a time for me to step away and make space for the infinite energy to do its work so I play with pure intention. Then I tune into the energy of the people in the room, and the gong plays for them.
“It is the most harmonious healing experience I have experienced so far,” explained Eileen S. of Lake Zurich, one of my students. “It is grounding, relaxing, enlightening and peaceful. Calms me and makes me stress free.”
The sounds of the gong are complex and have a transformational power. The gong’s vibrations wash over you in waves, like an energetic massage washing away tension. The contrast of the sound, to the silence and hearing the sound in the silence is where the transformational power arises. And at the end of class when the gong has stopped, in the silence, you still hear and feel the echo of the vibrations in your mind and in your body.
Whether you’re curious about the benefits of gong or are a long-time practitioner, consider attending one of YogaGong4Life’s upcoming classes, retreats and she has one spot left for Shakti Fest (May 13-15, Joshua Tree, Calif.). See full schedule here.
Lisa Gniady (Manjeet Kaur), New York native and Lakewood resident, switched gears from the bustle of Wall Street 15 years ago to teach yoga in the Chicago area, including through the Crystal Lake Park District. Her company, YogaGong4Life, offers regular classes and retreats. Reach her at 847.867.8630, firstname.lastname@example.org and via Facebook.