After lunch, my mom had a previous engagement, so I headed back to the Yogathon myself. I made the mistake of eating an awesome but very filling lunch right before, so I was glad to have about an hour to relax before the current class finished and the next one began. As I waited, I overheard a couple of people mention how excited they were for the gong bath later. My mom (and dad!) have done one before and told me all about it, but it still seemed kind of strange to me.
So I just lay there for an hour? And the vibrations are supposed to “cleanse me?”
I was just very confused with the whole process. But at the same time, I was looking forward to it. A lot. It’s something not many people can say they’ve experienced! And it’s very popular among yogis, so I was definitely ready to try it.
But first, there was one more yoga class: Vinyasa Flow–my favorite! I’ve taken a lot of Vinyasa Flow classes and I have to say that this one was the most different and exciting one I have taken in a while. Most of the classes I take follow the simple procedure of doing a few Sun Salutations and then gradually you start incorporating warriors and lunges and triangles, etc. This was still the same, but it just felt different. It was taught by two women who would switch off between leading the class and walking around to check everyone’s positioning. It was really great to have a teacher who was focused on leading and one who was focused on correcting form–I can imagine how hard it is for teachers to be the leader and the checker at the same time, so this was an awesome advantage for them and everyone else taking the class. They did little variations that gave their class some OOMPH! and edge. For instance, instead of always steeping to the front of the mat to end a sequence, they would have you walk your hands back towards your feet and start at the bottom of the mat. Just that little change was enough to add a spark of change! It was a rigorous but really really fun class to take! A great way to end the day 🙂
And then it was time. The moment we had all been waiting for: THE GONG BATH! A gong bath is a very simple concept to explain, but the experience is much more difficult to express, especially because everyone’s experience can be so different and varied. (This website has a good explication for what it all is specifically.) All you have to do is lay with your head facing the gong with a blanket and pillow and get comfortable. That’s it! You just get comfortable and relax and let the vibrations wash over you.
Here’s what is so significant about an Earth Gong:
“Not all gongs are alike. The Earth Gong…is a large, 38-inch gong harmonically tuned to the vibration of the primordial AUM, the Universal Chord, the source of all vibrations, and to the fundamental vibration of Planet Earth as she revolves around the Sun.” [via]
When the gong is hit, the vibrations wash over your body–the “bath” idea–and cleanse you and also help realign you. I know this sounds all very Hippie Dippie, but trust me, it was one of the coolest, weirdest, most interesting and amazing things I’ve ever experienced.
Before it all began the woman let us now that towards the end, there would be a very loud section of constantly hitting the gong very hard. They started out with some simple taping of the gong and some other maraca-type instrument while a woman sang and chanted in Tibetan. And then I fell asleep–into a really deep sleep. I woke up in a panic to the sound of the gong and thought that that was the loud part (I was wrong); I felt like I had been asleep for hours. I woke up very disoriented and confused–I had to remind myself where I was and once that was settled, I began to worry that I had missed everything, so I had to tell myself that I obviously had not because everyone else was still in the room and the “band” (not sure what to call them, haha!) was still playing. I KNOW!
After I regained my complete consciousness, I realized that I had been having a very vivid dream, but in the panic of everything, I had completely forgotten it. I’m still very upset about that. I’m usually very good at remembering my dreams and I felt like this one had the potential to be very important and possibly a guidance of some kind. I remember one single frame and I’ll try to describe it the best I can:
I call it “one single frame” because it’s literally like looking at a picture in a frame, for me. Imagine that the frame is an orangeish-gold with glitter swirled in it–think lava-like or like a spilled bottle of nail polish. I am with two other women–you can only see us from the waist up. I am near the upper left hand corner with my palms cupped together and open with my arms extended out toward the other two women. They are both dressed in black cloaks. The way she is facing, you can only see the one woman’s back and she is standing near the lower left hand corner. The other woman is on the right and she is placing a strand of white beads into my cupped hands. She looks a bit like “Strega Nona.”
And that’s it. I know it’s weird! I have no idea what it means. I’ve been thinking about it for days and days, but I am oddly OK with not knowing. Hmm. Strange.
Anyway, the gong bath continued as I tried to re-relax myself and re-clear my mind. I didn’t really notice anything too drastic during the process until I placed my hands together for a little bit–they tell you to lie with your hands out at your sides, not touching anything. When I released my hands down at my sides again, I felt a big WHOOSH! of energy go out from my hands to my fingers. It was nuts! Then the super loud part came. I can’t explain how loud it was. It was like being on the main floor at a rock concert, but since the frequency was low, there wasn’t that ringing in your ears. It was just a lot of crashing sounds all at once for what was probably only a minute but that felt like 5. After that was done, they went back to the gentle, rhythmic sound that was at the beginning for a little while before bringing it to an end.
I stood up and walked around a little bit. I expected to feel light as a feather and renewed, but I didn’t. (Not that that’s a bad thing!) I felt very empty–but not in a bad way! (Yeesh, these descriptions are terrible, I’m sorry!) I’m not sure why, but it took me a while to come up with the word cleansed to describe how I ultimately felt. I was very thirsty afterward, which was odd because I had been drinking water all throughout my yoga classes. The woman who ran the whole thing said to drink plenty of water, as that would help flush out anything you had knocked loose during the gong bath. That’s another great way to think about it–it was like clearing all the cob webs out of your body.
I can’t explain to you how feeling more aligned feels until you experience it yourself. When I walked, I felt more centered and evenly placed, instead of leaning from one side to the other or clomping and plopping my feet down on the ground. I wasn’t weightless, but I definitely was not as bogged down as I was–something you don’t realize you are until you’re not anymore, I think. I felt very new. Like I had hit a restart button on my body.
I could go on and on and on about it. I will definitely be doing a gong bath again. And I think everyone should experience it at least once. You do need to have an open mind with it if you ever do one, though. If you go into it thinking it’s silly, it will absolutely be the silliest thing you’ve ever done–but I suppose most things are like that. I think if you are open to the spirituality of it and are willing to be vulnerable, you will have great success and unbelievable results with a gong bath. Highly recommended.
Above all else, this experience was all a part of LUNGevity‘s desire to bring awareness to lung cancer and help raise funds for research. Lung cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer in America. It is also the least funded type of cancer in America. One of the women who runs the organization said that a yogathon was a great way to bring awareness to this disease because yoga relies so much on your breath, which is completely taken away when someone has lung cancer. I can’t imagine not having my breath to guide me through the postures and help me meditate and center myself. It is such a vital thing in all of our lives, yogis or not. This was a wonderful event for a wonderful organization. Visit their website for more information about their mission and how you can help in the future.
Thanks for listening. And on that note (da-dun-CH!), I’m outta here 🙂