Gong meditation is a form of contemplation that, while it may not be as popular as other kinds of this exercise, has incredible benefits that could be beneficial to you and your life. In this article, we are going to tell you more about ‘what is gong meditation’ and dive more into ‘gong bath meditation’ and ‘gong meditation benefits’.
What Is Gong Meditation?
This is a type of sound healing practice that involves using therapeutic gong sounds and vibrations to bring about healing. While gong meditation is not as popular as other types of meditation such as mindfulness, mantra, loving-kindness, body-scan, and kundalini yoga (21, 23) among others, like the rest it has multiple therapeutic and healing benefits.
Sound meditation has been around for over 40,000 thousands of years. Its roots can be traced to different countries i.e., the use of the didgeridoo in Australia, Tibetan or Himalayan singing bowls, quartz bowls, and bells, etc. In 2013, a scientific review looked at 400 different studies that used music as medicine. At the end of the review, it was concluded that music has mental and physical health benefits in improving mood, reducing stress and it can even relieve pain (17).
Three years later in 2016, a study using the Tibetan singing bowl for meditation revealed that doing this form of sound meditation for about 1 hour helped people reduce tension, anger, fatigue, anxiety, and depression (4). Using sound vibration has also been shown to help manage the pain caused by arthritis, menstrual pain, postoperative pain, knee replacement surgery. It can also improve mobility, reduce muscle pain and stiffness, increase blood circulation, and lower blood pressure (14).
Read More: Sound Meditation: The Healing Power Of Sound
The History And Use Of The Buddhist Meditation Gong
Meditation is a practice that has been long linked to Buddhists who practiced it in ancient times and continue to practice it today. Also known as the Buddhist standing bell or Tibetan singing bowls, they are constantly used during meditation as they are believed to promote a sense of peace and calmness.
In Buddhist meditation, the gong can be used for several purposes (16):
- To mark the beginning and end of each meditative session.
- To clear your space. I.e., To help ward off any negative energy around you as well as to inspire deeper meditation by creating an atmosphere of purity.
- As a reflection tool. Instead of concentrating on your breaths as you would in traditional meditation techniques, you use the sound and vibrations from the gong/bell/bowl to help center your mind.
This form of contemplation is said to help reduce stress, relieve pain, stimulate brain waves and boost your immune system as well as reduce systolic blood pressure and heart rate (18). The Japanese meditation gong also looks like a Buddhist meditation gong and can be used in the same way earning the same benefits.
What Is A Gong Bath Meditation?
Contrary to what the name suggests, it does not involve water or a bathtub. Instead, a gong bath is a form of sound healing that gains its name from the action of relaxing, calming and de-stressing while listening and immersing yourself in sounds and vibrations from a single or multiple gongs (6).
How To Do A Gong Bath Meditation?
Gong bath meditation is usually a guided form of reflection that is often done in group sessions, or as a one-on-one session with you and your sound therapist meditation practitioner. Other than gongs, other tools used in sound baths include crystal bowls, bells, tuning forks, chimes, drums, rattles, and Tibetan singing bowls, all instruments that make deep, resonating vibrations (20).
Gong bath reflection often starts a guided meditation or subtle sounds to lead into the playing of gongs around you. The complex overtones wash over you, leading you into a state where relaxation and healing can occur. During this time, as you let the sounds consume you, you can meditate reflecting on all factors (good or bad) about your life.
People say that they experience visions, epiphanies, come to creative solutions, and even go psychedelic-like journeys during a sound bath. Once your gong reflection session is complete, your sound therapist may recommend that you drink water, sleep, write, create something, reflect on your experience, or share it with someone close to you (3).
The benefits of getting a sound bath meditation include (19)
- An increased sense of well being
- Expanded awareness
- Physical healing
Some also believe that gong bath reflection can decrease a nervous system, slow the heart and respiratory rate, lower blood pressure, and improve cognitive skills (3).
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What Are Some Gong Meditation Benefits?
If you are wondering if gong meditation has any particular benefits the answer is yes. It has both mental and physical benefits that are as follows:
It Can Help Reduce Tension And Anxiety
As seen above, a 2016 study revealed that meditation using a singing bowl for meditation helped people reduce tension, anger, fatigue, anxiety, and depression (4).
In 2018, a study was done to determine effects of listening to Tibetan music on anxiety and endocrine, autonomic, cognitive responses in patients waiting for urologic surgery. The study involved 60 patients who were then divided into 2 groups of 30 patients each.
One group was given headphones with no music while the other received a pair of headphones each playing a low-frequency Tibetan music for 30 minutes before their surgery. The conclusions from the surgery revealed that those who listened to Tibetan singing bowls showed less anxiety levels before surgery (5).
Earlier this year in 2020 a systematic review looked into studies to try and analyze the benefits of singing bowl therapies. At the end of the review, researchers found that this form of therapy had positive health effects in relation to improvements in distressed mood, tension, anger, and confusion (15).
Could Improve On Sleep
According to the Sleep Foundation, 1 in 3 people have at least mild insomnia (8). Sound reflection like gong meditation could help you sleep better. Combining mindfulness reflection and gong meditation could get your sleep schedule back on track.
An analysis done early this year (2020) revealed that this practice can help improve insomnia, and may even improve sleep quality for those without existing sleep problems (10). Two more studies in 2014 and 2015 revealed that this practice helps with chronic insomnia and helps improve sleep quality and daytime impairment among older adults with sleep disturbances (1, 11).
May Boost Your Immune System
Other forms of this exercise have been found to help boost your immunity, mostly through the reduction of stress. When we’re stressed, the immune system’s ability to fight off antigens is reduced making us more susceptible to illness. Stress does this through the production of the hormone corticosteroid, which can suppress the effectiveness of the immune system (12). Using different kinds of this exercise, like gong meditation can help effectively reduce your stress levels, thus boosting your immunity (7).
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As stated above, using sound vibration has been shown to help manage the pain caused by arthritis, menstruation cramps, and postoperative pain like knee replacement surgery. The deep vibration from the gong could be useful to anyone suffering through any of the above-mentioned pain.
Gong meditation can also help improve mobility, reduce muscle stiffness, increase blood circulation, and lower blood pressure. It also enhances creativity, reduces symptoms of PTSD, mood swings, and improves memory and concentration (6).
Gong Meditation Kundalini Yoga: Can The Two Be Combined?
Yes, they can. As seen above, gong meditation is a form of sound contemplation technique that involves using therapeutic gong sounds and vibrations to bring about healing. On the other hand, Kundalini yoga is a combination of meditation, breathing exercises, mantras, and physical yoga poses (9).
Those who have practiced this form of gong yoga claim to find themselves transported to a calming and peaceful place. They also say that some benefits of combining gong meditation and Kundalini yoga include (13):
- Deep relaxation and mental clarity
- Reduced stress and anxiety levels
- Cleansing your aura as well as the opening and alignment of your chakras
- Strengthening the parasympathetic nervous system which helps decrease respiration, heart rate, and increases digestion
- Clears out negative energy and clears the sub-conscious of any negative thoughts and addictive behavior
- Repairs damage to the nervous system. Damage that is often caused by stress and stimulants such as coffee
- Relieves neck pain, headaches, menstrual cramps, muscle pain, and improves joint flexibility and range of motion
Read More: Kundalini Yoga Meditation: A Powerful Blend Of Spiritual And Physical Practices
During Gong Meditation What Do Black And Purple Aura Stand For?
While it is not clear if you can see auras specifically during gong meditation, some forms of meditation such as body scan or visualization meditation could help you see your aura. Aura photography is also another way to get an aura reading, if you are not willing or are not yet able to learn how to read your own.
There are as many aura colours as there are chakra colours because all of them are related. While meditating, if you see the colour purple, it is said to represent your brow or third-eye chakra. Those with a prominent purple chakra colour are said to be highly intuitive, sensitive and more introverted. They often tend to be quite indecisive as they always have to thoroughly think matters through before making a decision (22).
What about a black aura? Experts believe that black auras are very rare. When seen however, they represent a void – the lack of a soul. In slightly less morbid cases, it could also mean that there is a darkness or entity of darkness surrounding you. It could also mean that you are holding on to some negative thoughts and emotions, which block the flow of energy through your chakras.
It should be noted that black auras are not the same as dimmed or dull aura colours. Anyone with the black aura can change it to a brighter option by letting go of hurt thoughts and feelings, meditating and balancing your chakras, doing the things you love and those that excite you, and doing simple body movement exercises like yoga (2).
How To Play The Gong For Yoga Meditation And Healing?
If you own a gong and would like to know the best way on how to play the gong for yoga meditation and healing, there are multiple tutorials on YouTube that can teach you how to do it right. If you do not own a gong but would still like to try out this reflective technique, there are several apps available, both on iOS and android, that play gong meditation sounds for you.
The Bottom Line
If gong meditation is something that you have not incorporated in your lifestyle, we suggest that it might be high time for you to do it. While it might be a step of what you are used to, it is a fantastic reflection technique that not only pushes you out of your comfort zone, but also offers multiple benefits – both physical and psychological. A word of caution, however, if you have an issue with loud sounds or have a heart problem, we would highly advise you to stay away from this technique.
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any medical conditions. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- A randomized controlled trial of mindfulness meditation for chronic insomnia (2014, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Can You Really Have A Black Aura? We Asked The Experts To Find Out (2020, mindbodygreen.com)
- Curious About Sound Baths? Here’s What Happened When I Took a Sonic Soak (2019, wellandgood.com)
- Effects of Singing Bowl Sound Meditation on Mood, Tension, and Well-being: An Observational Study (2016, journals.sagepub.com)
- Effects of Tibetan Music on Neuroendocrine and Autonomic Functions in Patients Waiting for Surgery: A Randomized, Controlled Study (2018, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- gong bath: a beginners’ guide (2020, triyoga.co.uk)
- How Mindfulness Training Can Boost Your Immune System (2018, health.clevelandclinic.org)
- Important Things to Know About Insomnia (n.d., sleephealthfoundation.org.au)
- Kundalini Yoga Vs. Hatha Yoga (2018, livestrong.com)
- Mindfulness meditation and exercise both improve sleep quality: Secondary analysis of a randomized controlled trial of community dwelling adults (2020, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Mindfulness meditation and improvement in sleep quality and daytime impairment among older adults with sleep disturbances: a randomized clinical trial (2015, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Stress, Illness and the Immune System (2010, simplypsychology.org)
- The Healing Power of Gong Yoga (n.d., blog.spiritvoyage.com)
- The Healing Power of Sound as Meditation (2016, psychologytoday.com)
- The human health effects of singing bowls: A systematic review (2020, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- The Meaning and Function of the Meditation Bell (n.d., mindworks.org)
- The neurochemistry of music (2013, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Using Tibetan Singing Bowls for Stress Relief (2020, verywellmind.com)
- What Are Sound Baths? (2020, verywellmind.com)
- What Is a Sound Bath? Everything You Need to Know (2020, healthline.com)
- What is the best type of meditation? (2017, medicalnewstoday.com)
- What It Means When You Have A Purple Aura (2020, mindbodygreen.com)
- Which Type of Meditation Is Right for Me? (2020, healthline.com)