Featured in Nature & Health Magazine, Australia

Gong Healing

by Jan Purser

A wiry, fit older man with hippy-like, long grey hair stands poised by a large gong suspended by strong twine on a stand. He stops, and with mallet poised, assumes a contemplative posture. With small deft movements of his wrist, he begins gently playing the gong- soft sounds gradually build to a deep roar which reverberates around the room. Such is the spirit of the Gongmaster.

Don Conreaux has been playing the gong for over 30 years after he first experienced the gong sound during a meditation with his former yoga teacher in 1969. During the first experience he found that the gong sounds lifted him out of his body and he realized that he hadn't experienced anything like it beforehand. His yoga teacher taught some basic techniques but Don quickly discovered that he had to learn gong playing as he went along, and largely by following his intuition.

The major discovery, which gave Don inspiration, was that of Dane Rudhyar's writings on gong music. Don says, "Rudhyar kept referring me back to the gong. His whole philosophy on musical composition seemed to me to be based upon the gong. Then I really got excited about it because it seemed to me to explain the whole new music of this new millennium." This renowned Gongmaster practices bodywork in New York and plays live gong or his own sound CD's during the treatments. Of this he says, "The pulsating gong sound energy transfers through my hands. So it's the transference of these subtle gong pressure waves that go into the person while I'm working."

Don recognizes a certain kind of stress that affects the New York people. This stress related to the business and constant hub-bub of the city. He says, "The gong is an instant remover of the obstacles they may have in their lives. To live in New York can be difficult for some people. The gong lifts and removes them from this stress and they come back with a new perspective." He sees clients for bodywork and plays regularly at concerts, at music ceremonies and also social functions.

He holds 'improv' nights where people get together with their own instruments. He believes that the healing aspects of music come to the fore during these communal evenings. "Gong healing results in spiritualization and inner enlightenment. It expands a person's soul without religious concept. It's something that transcends- you can be an atheist or you can follow any tradition."

Metal Matters

The gongs that Don plays are made of a bronze alloy materials consisting of approximately 75 percent copper, 20 percent tin and 5 percent nickel. He claims the nickel is the key element that helps make the sound spiritual in nature, creating transcendental energy. There are a variety of soft mallets used to play the gongs, some made from rubber. Don even makes use of a "super ball" to play the gong.

Healing Sounds

When played properly, the gong produces a whole spectrum of harmonics that are based on pressure waves. The gong sound vibrates the energy meridians in the body and brings them into balance. Kundalini energy, which begins at the base of the spine, is released, traveling upwards along the spine through the body. When this occurs you may experience twitching muscles or even some discomfort if there are blockages along the meridians.

Don says, "the gong sound draws the anger and negativity out of a person like a vacuum. It is used in music therapy with kids who have hostility issues. I have seen street kids listen to the gong when I have been playing and the transformation which occurs while they listen is amazing. They shed their hard exterior and anger. And, when I let them play the gong, they approach it with respect."

Don believes that if a person is having trouble resolving something on the physical plane, the gong will invite it to resolve on a spiritual plane. He says, "the gong creates a shift into a special space where you can be pulled into the Œsource' where it will bring happiness into your life, then through you and all others in contact with you- you become the gong."

"When someone plays the gong for you, the gong sound removes the fear of death by taking you out of your body so you realize you don't need a body to have a spiritual consciousness. It might heal diseases you don't even know you have, while it keeps you at your highest potential. Youthfulness is on the increase along with a resurgence of sound therapies."

Don comments emphatically, "Gong healing is a spiritualization and inner enlightenment which really expands a person's soul without a particular religious concept. Something that transcends- and the role of the gong therapist is to bring transformational power to an individual." The reason it brings happiness to people is so that everyone may feel their own compassion is nourished. Physical ailments that have been healed, is because that person was brought to a place of self-healing, so the innate consciousness heals them. It is an inspiration directly from God- not from a book, or from any person. It is so they can receive self-inspiration."

A Gong Bath

When you experience a Gong Bath, you can expect to recline in comfort and do a few relaxation breath exercises. Don's background in yoga means there are many breathing exercises that can be done to open the body's chakras, or energy centers. After several minutes of these exercises he then invites you to allow your breathing to return to a natural state. Then, the gong playing begins. At first you hear soft throaty gong sounds and as you listen carefully, you become aware of the many tones within one sound. As Don continues to play, the sounds become louder and louder, and washes over and around you much as you would imagine the roar of a waterfall.

He is truly a master, creating waves of sound that carry you into the past, into the future, to other countries, and even to other worlds. Many people experience something noticeable during a meditative Gong Bath. And, judging by reports, it can range from feeling their bodies twitch (as the energy meridians are cleared and balanced), seeing amazing splashes of color behind their closed eyes, past life recollections in full detail, a feeling of lifting out of their bodies and watching from above, to simply a feeling of total peace and connectedness.

Playing the Gong

Don recommends if you are going to play a gong that you make sure your spine is straight and extended to give a free flowing channel for the Kundalini energy to travel. He is also quite emphatic that one does not play by using only the ears and eyes- the concentration is in the third eye (in the center of the forehead). This is where intuitive playing comes to the fore and creates the unique sounds required for a person, or group of people, at that particular time.

Some gong masters chant while playing the gong, creating a sound of harmony, and some others sing with the gong. One important point to remember is that the gong is not to be "belted." While Don was playing, he lightly tapped the gong with the mallet, firstly in one spot then in different spots all over the gong. This created a whole range of notes that blended together into one soul-stirring sound.

Don says, "you must approach the gong with respect and a certain amount of reverence. The new gongs are made so beautifully and with so many beautiful tones in them- giving out frequencies that are high healing vibrations. You don't need to strike the gong to make it loud. If you stroke it softly and repetitively, the sound increases on its own. There is no logic when playing a gong and no planning or thought is needed, just an evocation, an intension of compassion and an open heart. You are not thinking, just observing and thenŠwho is moving your hand? You cannot Œplay' the gong, the gong plays you."

Practical Uses

Gong sound can be used to rebalance the physical, emotional and spiritual bodies. It is an excellent therapy for stress related issues, depression, fatigue, anger and hostility, feeling of separation and loneliness, and all kinds of fears along with many other conditions related to lack of balance and harmony in the body.

Hope for the Future

Don's personal wish is that people will bring the gong sound into their homes through their own personal gongs- or at least to play gong sound CD's (he offers recordings of various types). He reasons that the therapeutic sounds clear negativity from the home and removes the ego within people, allowing them to live at their highest potential, in true happiness and health, and attracting abundance into their lives.

Jan Purser is a nutrition consultant, iridologist, remedial therapist and writer.