Meditation with gongs and singing bowls can change your life.
My relationship with sound began 50 years ago when I was initiated into a form of meditation which focuses on inner sound and light. In the following half century, it never occurred to me to pay much attention to the world of sound other than as entertainment, emotional engagement, or catharsis, but never as an adjunctive practice in support of deepening a meditative experience or of expanding consciousness. That changed when I attended a gong meditation played in the style of Kundalini Yoga two years ago. I did think that if the player had not stopped playing an unbroken cadence on his gong for 45 minutes, the room would have opened into another dimension, yet as remarkable as that was, the bug hadn’t bitten me; I was not drawn to pursue that sound experience further. Attending two gong baths open to the public shortly after that, the presentation of sounds - which included gongs and singing bowls plus a wide variety of other sound devices - scrambled my attention rather than focusing it and drawing it inwards. “Gongs” still seemed foreign to me, something outside myself, something to be objectively listened to, as foreign as they still were.
It was only when a sales agent in a percussion store noticed me eyeing a 42” Chau gong, put a mallet in my hand, and I gently sounded the gong myself did I experience the profound inner connectedness that I now (2 years later) know as the bridge that the sound of a gong can become. There was suddenly a relationship with the sound, something that had not opened to me when I was passively listening even to gifted players. It was as if there was something “else” on the other side of the gong reaching in to me or that the sound was both coming from within the gong as well as from within my self…that I was the sound.
If one stands in front of a mirror, one sees a reflection of one’s physical self. If a room fills with the sumptuously broad spectrum of vibrations that a gong puts forth, within that medium one perceives (“hears”) one’s self on any of a number of more subtle dimensions, depending on one’s receptivity. The sound of a gong becomes a sonic mirror, and within it you can sense your subtle vibrational self. Reflections tend to be static, but in my experience, the sound of a gong is richly and powerfully vibrant, enlivening, transformative, and it also becomes a passageway, even a portal, through which one transitions or steps experientially, consciously, into an expanded sense of what Is.
The gong is a tool. Opening to embrace, take in, surrender into its sounds is a practice which deepens one’s ability to profoundly listen, which further refines that ability. What other mirror allows you to see your true(r) self and the very “gazing” into it prepares you to see/hear even more deeply?
“All these melodies come swarming within as the pilgrim soul starts on the Path; but of all these, one must catch the sound of a gong or a conch for these in particular are connected with the higher spiritual realms, the various mansions in the house of our Father:
None knows where the abode of the Beloved is,
But sure enough the sound of the gong comes elating therefrom.”
Making that first gentle strike was like knocking on the eardrum of God, and there was not only an answer, but “I” was on both sides - I was both the one who knocked as well as That which was answering; I was the listener as well as the sound, itself.
I was IGNITED! What followed was the arrival into my life of several bronze, nickel/silver, and titanium gongs plus several Himalayan singing bowls. Just as the entry of the power of gongs into my life had been completely unexpected, so was the rapidly kindled passion for searching to solve the mysterious drawing power of Himalayan singing bowls. Several of each of these transformative instruments came into my life just as a friend was dying with cancer. I played gongs and/or singing bowls for him every evening as his discomforting symptoms increased, and he found tremendous pain relief as well as emotional comfort in where these sounds would “take” him. A friend of his was also entering into hospice care at that time, and she, too, asked to be played to. I left one 36” Air Cosmo gong in her home which her adult daughter enjoyed playing for her mother in my absence, and as they desired, I played Himalayan singing bowls for them as well as for friends and family visiting to say goodbye. The vibrations hanging in the air from these playing became a nearly luminous medium in which we all felt more deeply interconnected, making nearly palpably real that which transcends physicality, itself, and I would add - grants access to levels of awareness more subtle than the turbulent emotional seas that each was navigating through those times.
Now two years into being “kidnapped” and swept away by the transformative potential of the sound of gongs and Himalayan singing bowls and having entered into more formal yet free-spirited study of gong playing, the essence of what I feel is working its way into expression through me boils down to the power and gift of listening…to bringing one’s attention as exquisitely and as one-pointedly as possible to the unique sound of these devices in which we find remembrance of the vibration that we most essentially Are. To turn the attention toward these sounds draws the attention itself - the outward expression of consciousness - to reawaken, to remember, to come alive on all levels of our being, and I would say, to realize the Love that is the essence of all vibration.
The mystery hanging in the air…is a mirror of your very Self, drawing “you” to see your Self more clearly and fully.
And it all started with a single, gentle striking of a gong…