Sound Therapy & The Role of Gongs

Written by Maitri Asinovski

What happens when you get gonged? Why do you get gonged?

Gongs have been making their way on scene for some time now. They are large, circular metal instruments, usually made of bronze with turned rims. You may have seen them at your local yoga studio, or perhaps at a festival or health and wellness event. “Getting gonged” is a somewhat silly phrase used to describe the process of a sound bath that includes, or is characterized by, gongs.

When your ears are in close proximity to a gong, it sounds like a hundred golden charioteers swooping down from the sky, scooping you up into a rushing, yet peaceful nirvana. They have been known to create spontaneous meditative states, catalyze an inner journey, and bring insight and fresh perspectives to the listener.

So, what is it about the gong that produces that effect?

Most instruments have an initial impact (called the “attack”) and then a decline of sound (called the “decay”). This is called the sound envelope. The sound envelope of the gong, however, is unpredictable. After the first strike and decay, the gong's sound returns of its own accord without any additional attack, and builds to a second and even higher peak.

Yogi Bhajan called this the gong's “resound.” Because of this resound, the gong produces a complex synthesis of blended overtones that allows one to listen in a whole new way. As the returning waves of sound build upon one another, the sound of the gong becomes so complex, that the mind has no way to categorize it. The sound may resemble a variety of instruments being played at once. Due to the way these complex tones are synthesized within the ear, everyone has a unique, personal and variable experience with the gong.

The use of gong in yoga and meditation can be linked back in time to Northern India, where it was played by Kundalini Yoga masters to awaken the intuitive faculties and create a transcendent state of being. Next time you have the opportunity, try out the gongs and see what they create for you.

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