MILWAUKEE — In 2019, alternative methods of self help and integrative medicine are becoming more and more popular. CBD products are found in large department stores. Yoga, while it has been prevalent in American culture for a long time, is still growing in popularity. Meditation is common, but there is one type of meditation that is gaining steam in Milwaukee and the United States. It's called Gong Bath Meditation.
"There's a lot of sound and it sounds really good," Andrew Royal, a psychotherapist and host of gong baths, said in simple terms.
It's a form of sound or music therapy.
The participant lays down on a yoga mat. They can use a pillow and/or blanket for added comfort. The host of the meditation will hit a gong, and the swelling sound and reverberations are meant to relax you.
Gongs are believed to have been used for thousands of years but the first clear description dates back to 6th century China. They came to Western Europe in the 19th century. pic.twitter.com/N5Gq0JWUcP— James Groh (@JamesGroh_) November 4, 2019
"We dim the lights and then start to play and then let the sounds carry us all to whoever it needs to," Royal said.
These aren't small echoes either. The gong creates a thick and full sound that reverberates throughout the room and you can feel it in your chest.
Plus, there is no sheet music or specific song. It is all improvised, his partner and fellow practitioner Adriana Royal, said.
"It's usually just receiving the sound and responding to it," Adriana Royal, an acupuncturist, said.
Both can play at once or they can switch off playing the two gongs they own. They have different sized and textured mallets which they use to generate various sounds and frequencies. Some mallets are large, hollow, and soft. Others are small, dense, and hard.
"Size and also the density of it will create loud or softer sounds," Adriana said.
The setting of a gong bath is designed to create maximum comfort to allow the participant to loose themselves in the sound.
"We try to not describe at all what's going to happen, but we ask people to be receptive as they can be to whatever it is that's going to happen," Andrew Royal said.
Both Royals noted that gong baths can have various effects on a person. While the goal is to put you in an almost sedated-trance-like-state, that doesn't mean your mind will go blank.
"(Two people) laying right next to each other on the floor, and one person says something like it was so loud I could barely stand it and then the person next to them says I thought it was really quiet," Andrew Royal said.
The first descriptions of gongs dates back to 6th century China; however, it is believed that gongs were used for thousands of years before that. In the 1790's, gongs were used in western European orchestra performances. It's unclear when they became a specific meditative practice or brought to the U.S., but gongs have always been used for ceremonial, musical, and religious purposes.
Gong Bath Meditation it may sound new to you but it's a sound therapy that dates back to at least the 6th century China. pic.twitter.com/gPqfEYkEHq— James Groh (@JamesGroh_) November 4, 2019
"There (are) some people who know this is not like a secret anymore," Andrew Royal said.
Now, gong baths are gaining popularity in the U.S. and Milwaukee. There are some of the places that offer gong bath meditations in southeast Wisconsin including:
- Royal Road MKE (Andrew and Adriana's practice)
- Milwaukee Gong Bath Community
- Sacred Sound Yoga
- Angelic Roots
Gong baths can also be done during commemorative times. The Royals have hosted meditations at baptisms, birthdays, and memorial services.
"Literally we are holding space for people to meditate together," Adriana Royal said.