Sound Healing and the Gong
The gong, believed to be the earliest instrument used in sound healing, originated in the Bronze Age in Sumeria, or present-day Iraq. Throughout history, gongs were used as a tool for healing, purification, initiation and enlightenment. Gongs have been used by both Tibetan monks and the Chinese to enhance meditation, and yoga studios and sacred meditation spaces all over the world today still use them for that purpose.
The gong is an idiophone, meaning that it resonates with the whole of its being, producing many harmonics from its fundamental tuned note. This is why it is said that, “One who plays the gong plays the universe.” Many believe that when played, the gong produces the sound of creativity, the primordial and original sound “OM.”
Although sound healing has been used for centuries, it is now gaining traction in the modern world. SpiritualityHealth.com notes that, “There’s growing interest in using sound frequency to boost human health—and research backs it up,” quoting various practitioners with examples of their patients’ improvements using sound healing. Author Joshua Leeds is quoted as saying, “Sound healing is trending up. It’s like where yoga was 15 years ago. People are realizing that sound is a viable medium to address distress, enhance learning, even work with an autistic child.” Leeds is an expert in psychoacoustics, which is the study of sound on the human nervous system.
Though the scientific research via clinical trials is in its infancy, there are encouraging studies—such as the 2015 study by Wilfrid Laurier University, in Ontario, showing that sound healing greatly decreased pain levels in fibromyalgia patients; and another by University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation finding very positive results—with far fewer side effects than the standard treatments—for prostate cancer patients who participated in sound healing. An article on BritishAcademyOfSoundTherapy.com states that their own study, which used various types of sound healing devices including gongs, produced data showing significant positive changes in relation to “physical relaxation, imagery, ineffability, transcendence of time and space, positive mood, insightfulness, disembodiment and unity across both live and recorded studies.”
Gong healing, also referred to as gong therapy, is used to access deep states of consciousness/awareness. It is believed that this can help clear the subconscious mind by releasing fears, suppressed emotions, and outdated unhealthy energy patterns which interfere with vitality and spiritual expansion. By bringing the mind to a state of clarity and neutrality, the gong is also said to enhance creativity by removing obstacles to the flow of creative life force energy. Gong vibrations are said to stimulate the glandular system, enhance circulation, and aid the nervous system, in that the sound of the gong puts pressure on the entire nervous system to adjust and heal itself by regenerating the parasympathetic nervous system.
Similarly to acupuncture needles, the metaphysical understanding of sound healing is that sound waves interact with the meridians, or energy pathways. In this way, the vibrations of the gong are said to heal the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual bodies simultaneously, bringing about a state of balance and integration. The sound penetrates/bathes every cell and fiber in the body, opening and clearing the energy channels and removing blocks and tension.
During a gong meditation session, participants often report entering into an instant state of deep relaxation of both the mind and body, lending credibility to the idea that gong healing has aided children with learning disabilities and violent or anti-social behavior. Deep relaxation is a restful state which many health practitioners believe can induce the body to heal and rejuvenate.
Gong enthusiasts believe that gongs activate and encourage the body’s innate healing wisdom, emphasizing the highest vibration within one’s true self: that part of a person which is already healed whole and complete at the level of Divine connection.
Rosie Rain, sound healer, reiki master teacher and yoga teacher, is the owner of Sacred Sound Yoga, at 3805 N. Oakland Ave., Shorewood. For more information or to experience a gong healing meditation session, call 414-403-2053 or visit SacredSoundYoga.org. Rain offers gong healing by appointment and as a part of every yoga class, and for people with memory loss.