I just returned from my second Gong Bath by Richard Rudis. For those of you not familiar, in a Gong Bath is a sacred sound ‘concert’ in which a large gong is played such that the tonalities and vibrations invoke a healing experience.

The room is very crowded, with several rows of people lying on yoga mats mere inches apart on their backs, often covered with blankets or eye pillows for comfort. Heads are pointed in the direction of the gong to allows the vibrations to enter in through the crown chakra (sahasrara) and facilitate the removal of negative energies out the feet and hands. Participants are staggered so that when there are many rows of people, the feet of a person in the row in front of you doesn’t align to another’s head, so that  impurities can be transmitted back to the earth rather than absorbed by another.

The session begins with the playing of tingshas to create a sacred and protected space. Then the sounds from the gong  — tuned to 136.10 hertz, the frequency of the seed syllable for Om, and the frequency of the earth as it moves around the sun — begin. Musically, the variety and tonalities of sound that arise from the instrument are fascinating. But even more incredible is the physical and energetic effect the sound creates. As you lay focusing on the various harmonies of the gong, trying to quell the chatter of the mind as you would in meditation, the vibration begins to work it’s magic on you. As Mr. Rudis states it “meets you where you’re at“; in other words, each of us will have our own unique experiences depending our our needs and openness to the session. And this being my second time, I did find it have a very different character than when I attended last winter.

Interestingly Mr. Rudis mentioned that as this was a group gong bath experience, he feels that the group was drawn together to deal with trace remnants of karma or create new karma. Which made me think of the television program Lost.

For me, the experience began with a sense of deep relaxation. For the first portion, my hands were placed on my belly and I repeatedly brought my focus back to the sound or my breath whenever my mind tried to wander off. Much of the first half was spent being reminded of how much more comfortable my mind is with veering off on tangents and creating it’s own little dramas than being present. As the wave of sound rose and fell, my hands moved to my sides and I began to feel as if I was shedding layers; the thought of coming to the core of my being came to mind. The sensation of letting go of this extra energetic “weight” continued to the crescendo of the experience, when the gong gets to it’s loudest point. At that stage I began to experience a sense of riding the waves of these booming sounds, anticipating and welcoming the cleansing effects, but tinged with a touch of fear as I realized later. And that discomfort is really not surprising. It is that sensation of wanting to rid yourself of that which you know you don’t need any longer, yet struggling with the fear of change, the challenge of being able to let go and trust in the higher order of the universe.

Once the intensity of this climatic moment begins to subside, the playing continues, seeming almost to mirror the build-up as you come out of the height of the experience. That’s about the time I find myself becoming a little antsy. The muscle tension in my legs from trying to keep my feet away from the heads of my neighbors in the row below becomes distracting, the mental chatter is more insistent, and I felt so strongly the desire to curl up on my side in the fetal position and take a nap. It occurred to me that it was rather like what I imagine coming back up to the surface after scuba diving must be like. You know you need to ascend in a controlled manner, but you’re rather impatient to get back to the surface.

It was during this latter portion of the experience, that I once again placed my hands on my belly the same way I had begun. Only this time, there was a noticeable amount of physical space between my palms and my body. A physical reinforcement of the sensation of shedding that permeated this particular experience.

Once the tingshas sound again, and the remaining vibrations from the gong fade away, I was left with a deep sense of peace. Relaxed, comforted, and indeed lighter.

If you should have the opportunity to check out a Richard Rudis Gong Bath I highly recommend the experience, it truly is something special. If you’re interested in learning more, there is a great 3-part interview of Mr. Rudis on YouTube presented by Satiama:

Watch Part 2 »

Watch Part 3 »