But why gongs? What’s their history? What do they do to us? Why do they make us feel the way they do?
- Oneness is our natural condition. We are part of the universe, and it is part of us. We may know this intellectually, but how often do we know it experientially? Oneness is alive in the present moment but we are frequently submerged in the contents of our minds. Gongs and Himalayan singing bowls are ancient instruments used for meditation and spiritual practice in order to awaken us to our inner nature, to harmonise the inner with the outer, our practice with our lives. Through the powerful vibrations, the sublimely pure and majestic sounds and the rich and complex harmonies of these wonderful instruments, our relationship with our minds can be set at ease, our consciousness can become reflective of the present moment and we can know ourselves, and thus, all existence.
- The Buddha himself reportedly instructed that all gongs and bells should be inscribed with the Tai Loi symbols, meaning “happiness has arrived”. In China, gongs are said to have been used for thousands of years for royal and religious ceremonies. Various civilisations have used them to fend against evil spirits and also to frighten their enemies in war.
- Sound is being used more and more frequently to enhance well-being. The gongs are generators of very rich sounds and vibrations – often considered beautiful, subtle, powerful and with an immensely broad range of frequencies, overtones, undertones and harmonics building atop one another.
- Laying near a gong, the body’s atoms are literally vibrated by the sounds, thus we effectively have a ‘sound massage’. If everything in the world is vibrating, then it is doing so at various different speeds or frequencies, depending on its nature/make-up. The gongs, in their capacity to vibrate at a wide range of frequencies, are therefore able to bring about a resonation in whatever is nearby…. essentially they shake it up, they get things moving. They not only vibrate in our ears, but in our skin, our organs, our whole being. And with a little poetic license one could say that when things vibrate, they sing……they sing their best songs. 🙂 Such is the nature of vibration.
- Furthermore, our emotions are often deeply affected too. Just as the sound of a violin may lead us into feeling sadness, exhilaration, the desire to dance, so the gongs may make us feel deep emotions too…. and yet the sounds are frequently thought of as so profound, so enveloping, so beyond melody and rhythm that the mind often struggles to pigeon-hole the experience, and instead we may find ourselves thrust into the present moment, our minds taking a back seat while the rest of our being begins to awaken…. we may feel emotions that we have not felt since childhood, casting us back to forgotten times that had a hand in our making us who we are today.
- In the presence of the gongs, it’s not uncommon for us to slip into meditation or dream states, the brain waves moving from their usual beta function (thinking, concentration, anxiety) into alpha (daydreaming, the imagination set free…), to theta (more like meditation or dreaming in sleep) and potentially to delta (as in deep sleep). In this way we may become more and more available to our deepest intuitive capacity, open for insight, relaxation, understanding, silent knowing and awakening.
- Everyone is different, so give it a try a find out what it does for you. 🙂