Exploring The Healing Effects Of The Gong’s Resonating Sounds
THE POWERFUL VIBRATION OF THE GONG ripples through the air. The succession of sound waves progressively excites each and every cell of the body before gently allowing them to rest. Chinese gong makers kept its metallic composition secret, so the instrument has long had a sense of mystery. For thousands of years, gongs were used in religious ceremonies, monasteries and temples across East and South-East Asia. Now the West has been slowly catching onto this vibrational instrument and it has become as a regular accompaniment in yoga practice to deepen meditation, assist in removing energy blockages and facilitate healing.
Half a world from its ancestral home, the gong takes center stage at Los Angeles’ Golden Bridge Yoga, a refuge from the chaotic and random sounds of the surrounding Hollywood vibe where yogis and others can experience the powerful effects of the gong’s sound vibrations. Here Harijiwan (among other master teachers) offers regular gong and meditation sessions that incorporate the Kundalini traditions with the meditative and healing powers of the gong. Harijiwan says, ‘The sound of the gong allows us to move beyond the boundaries of the mind.’ The gong’s sounds are used to move our habitual responses and enact change to the very core of our being to our ingrained negative mental imprints and our perceptions of the world.
With Harijiwan’s trademark humor, he guides the practitioner through a set of gentle Yoga postures such as cat-cow, then intense postures incorporating breath of fire and into deep meditations, such as the blue pearl meditation. Building to the climax of the practice, with the gong awakening the group during the deepest meditation, a two-hour session with Harijiwan incorporates the vigor of the Kundalini practice and meditation with the energetic transformative power of the gong.
The resonations of the gong during the culmination of Harijiwan’s course makes the human body and mind feel like an instrument itself for positive change. It’s as though the body is being played to orchestrate its own vibrational tones. When struck during the practice the gong emits a sound with complex vibrations that turn into a succession of tones that move like a pebble hitting a pond, in both alternating subtle and powerful wave-like rings of sound. After completing the meditation, Harijiwan’s claim that ‘we are all divine instruments with strings’ seems more believable.
Another type of opportunity to become an instrument of gong orchestration can be found half a world away from Los Angeles in the small scenic tourist hamlet of Albany in Australia. Mount Romance s a sandalwood factory that produces the world’s largest sustainable supply of Western Australian sandalwood oil and its own range of cosmetic products based on the powerful properties of this aroma. Along with stimulating the olfactory sense, Mount Romance also offers a three-pronged retreat experience (The Cone, The Gong and The Bowl) incorporating the gong’s transformative powers.
The cone refers to the tepee-shaped structure in which the sessions take place, while the gong and bowls are the vibrational instruments employed for their sound therapy. When inside the plush-cushioned setting of the cone holding scarves infused with sandalwood oil, a host explains how the gong infuses a sense of deep relaxation, releases stress and tension, boosts the immune system, and calms and clears the mind, all at a cellular level.
The sandalwood essential oil directly affects the limbic system, or emotional center of the brain, to inspire a deep sense of relaxation. Then the first hit of the large standing gong solicits a tingling that acts as a precursor to an immense burst of energy. The instructor moves around the room with a hand-held gong individually encircling each participant. At this point, soothing sounds begin to overwhelm the previously excited “monkey mind’s” wandering thoughts. The body feels like it is held together by nothing more than sound, as the gong and singing bowls vibrate through to the very core of one’s being. When coupled with the backdrop of the Australian bush, the gong’s resonance endures throughout the following days, banishing negative thoughts and feelings, as well as increasing the libido.
Through such experiences we have the opportunity to realize how sound and good vibrations contribute to balancing the human body and universe alike.
Mount Romance The Cone, The Goand The Bowl 2 Down Rd Albany, WA Australia 6330 mtromance.com.au
Natalie D-Napoleon is a singer-songwriter and writer with a passion for organic gardening and serenading her fruit and vegetable plants. She is currently recording her début solo album with producer David Piltch (kd lang, Madeleine Peyroux) at Sound Design Studios in Santa Barbara. nataliednapoleon.com
By Natalie D-Napoleon
Natalie D-Napoleon is a yogi, songwriter and writer from Fremantle, Australia who now lives in California. She has an MA in Writing and works as a Coordinator at a Community College Writing Center. Her writing has appeared in Entropy, Australian Poetry Journal, LA Yoga and Writer’s Digest. In 2018 she won the Bruce Dawe National Poetry Prize (Australia).