From a piece of music to birds singing in the trees, the crash of a wave against the shore to the sound of laughter, we all have sounds that touch our soul, that resonate with us on a level that we often take for-granted, that more often than not bring with them a healing power that can restore, re-balance, and rejuvenate us. Sound is inextricably woven into the very fabric of our being, from the beginning of human-kind, through every ancient civilisation, through every culture, through to us now in our modern world. Sound resonates in each one of us.
Jenna Gooding is one of a group of Gong practitioners in the UK who are helping us to reconnect with healing power of sound through Gong Sound Baths. “A Gong Sound Bath is how we describe a total immersion in the sounds of the Gongs” said Jenna, “I am honoured to work with the Gongs as I believe that their sounds are the ultimate transformative healing tool, and I have seen how that healing can be life changing on both a physical and emotional level.”
I spoke with Jenna to find out more about these fascinating instruments and their healing power:
What is the history of the Gong?
“Gongs are thought to originate from India at the beginning of the bronze age before spreading throughout Asia and finding their way into Buddhist culture around 600bc. It’s likely that their initial use was as ceremonial ritual instruments, used for meditation and enlightenment, healing, rejuvenation and altering consciousness.”
How does healing power of the Gong work?
“As well as hearing sound the body also feels sound – just think about how you can feel sound vibrating through your body when you are close to a speaker. Every organ and cell in our body has a frequency at which it’s balanced, and when its out of balance that frequency becomes ‘out of tune’, and so our mind, body and soul are also out of balance. The sound of the Gongs lowers brain waves and induces a state of deep meditation and relaxation, while the body takes in the complexity of sound and harmonics created by the Gong and re-tunes anything that is out of balance by a process call entrainment, healing and balancing us.”
How can it help support my health and well-being?
“The Gong can be used as a simple self care and relaxation tool, which is so important especially with the busy lives we lead. Immersing yourself in the sound of the Gongs is a great way to let our body and brains just rest – many people have found a wonderful peace and stillness with the Gong.
In addition, many clients have experienced physical and emotional healing, and it has supported them with conditions and situations including stress, anxiety, depression, aches and pains, shifting emotional issues, PTSD, and insomnia. On a spiritual level, the Gong can also help to balance and detox the Chakra system, removing blockages from the subtle energy centres, cleansing the aura and vibrating the energy meridians allowing our spiritual energy to flow freely.”
What happens in a Gong Sound Bath?
“Gong Sound Baths do not happen in a bath! You are fully clothed and a Gong Sound Bath can take place one to one, or in a group setting: I hold my group Gong Sound Baths in beautiful village halls across Suffolk. In group sound baths you will be in a room with up to 20 people, allowing room for you to get comfortable, lie back and immerse yourself in the healing sound of the Gongs.
Most practitioners will ask you to bring something comfortable to lie on, pillows and blankets – you are going to be lying down for an hour so you need to be warm and comfortable. If you struggle to lie down for this long, then bring pillows or bolsters, or you could check with the organiser and see if it is okay to bring a reclining garden chair if this is more comfortable for you.
Each sessions lasts about an hour, and each individual will have a different response to the Gongs – the more you experience the Gongs the more benefits you will notice. We hold on to the vibrations for as long as we need them, and they can sometimes be sensed for a few days afterwards.
Many practitioners will also offer a chance to stay after the session to chat about your experience and to answer any questions you might have, some people prefer to go home straight after and process their experience and that’s absolutely fine. I am always there should any questions arise either during the session or at a later date.”
The cost of a Gong Sound Bath will vary depending on where in the country you are (see links below), and the practitioner you go to. Jenna runs regular events throughout Suffolk and each session is £15, which includes complimentary fruit and hot drinks after the session. She also offers individual sessions.
So, what is it really like?
Amanda recently went to her first Gong Sound Bath with Jenna at Creeting St. Mary Village Hall:
“I’ve had quite a lot on my plate recently, and while I’d never heard of a Gong Sound Bath before I saw Jenna’s advert, I did know that sound can lift our our everyday mood so I went along with an open mind to see if it could help me feel a little calmer, a little more relaxed, a little more grounded.
As soon as I entered the venue I immediately felt calm and was given a really warm welcome by Jenna. I was expecting there to be just one Gong so was surprised to see 6 large Gongs glowing in the dimly lit village hall. With all of us safely tucked into our blankets, Jenna gave a quick introduction to the Gongs and some of the sensations we might experience, encouraged us to get comfortable, and then began playing.
There was no ‘tune’ in the way we might think of a song, just these amazing waves of textured and multi-layered sound that I could feel moving through my body. It was such a relaxing experience that I felt as though even if I had wanted to I could not have moved: in a way it felt as though I had stepped out of my own body. Once the session was over I felt so grounded and re-energised, and the effect lasted for days afterwards. It was a really lovely experience.”
Jenna lives with her husband and three children in rural Suffolk. She is an advance level Gong practitioner having trained at the College of Sound Healing with world renowned Gong Master Sheila Whittaker, and with Gong Masters Mark Swan and Aiden Mcintyre. She is a member of the College of Sound Healing.
“I adore our Suffolk countryside and one of my greatest pleasures is being outdoors, amongst nature – it’s part of who I am. By being outside I find that you become more in touch with the cycles of nature, the vibrations of the planet; even our silence has a sound – it’s our intuition calling us. When we bring our focus back into our body and become part of the landscape we learn a lot, we gather the energy our physical and spiritual body needs, and we are able to send that back out for the good of us all. This is when I feel most at home, when I am nurturing that environment, sounding with my Gong or drum and chanting words of love and compassion.
I am passionate about helping people to heal, and by this I mean enabling them to find their own connection so that they can access that healing which, ultimately, is within us all.”
About Jenna: For more information about Gong Sounds Baths, including Jenna’s forthcoming Gong Sound Baths then please visit her Facebook page @Gongbaththerapysuffolk.
About Gong practitioners in your area: Jenna is one of several therapists who can be found at www.sound-gong-bath.co.uk, and through the College of Sound Healing, both of which lists practitioners throughout the UK.
About the author: Sarah Woodhouse is a Reflexology practitioner based in Suffolk, helping to support people with an holistic approach to their health and well-being. She is also a qualified Instructor in Reflexology for babies and children, runs workshops to help ease stress and anxiety, and has recently developed her practice to support people on their fertility journey. You can find out more about her work at sarahwoodhousetherapy.co.uk
Please Note: Nobody received any payment, either financial or in-kind, for their contribution to this article.