Episodes on Episodes: How Sound Baths can make Meditation easier for those with scattered minds.

Before it dawned on me that the transnational consumption of bat soup would lead to 18 months of house arrest with my former boss, I thought I could use the time to sort myself out.

At the heart of all mental health solutions is something all therapists seem to agree on: meditation is fucking great for you.

Now, this isn’t my first run-in with meditation. But it also just… wasn’t my friend.

There’s just nothing more achingly dull than sitting still and hanging out with your head.

I’ve tried Headspace. It’s bloody great. Short, snappy, and is behaviourally baked to make you come back on a winning streak. Like Duolingo, but without guilt and judgment. It’s great as long as you can get past eye-scratchingly grating dulcet tones of Andy Puddicombe. And… meditating is still hard.

I gave group meditation a go. Communality made you accountable to actually practice it, but I ended up being distracted by ALL the people watching.

Why is meditating is so hard?

It feels as though it only gets good when you get good. And that takes practice. You’ve really got to persevere. And persevering and getting good at something like meditation feels counterintuitive to the non-judgemental nature of meditation. You can end up beating yourself up over it a bit.

As an incredibly impatient inpatient, it takes bloody ages to master it; it feels like it takes forever, and you don’t see the benefits for AGES. It’s an easy thing to procrastinate or put off: you sometimes fear failing at it.

You also need a bit of discipline. As a woman who flirts with her own addictions, that can sometimes be a tall order. And it’s just a bit of a chore.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s bloody great when you get there, but sometimes, you need a bit of a helping hand to find that sense of zen along the way.

With persistent googling, I came across the Psychedelic Society. They host a Gong bath in the Round Church in Clapton on most Mondays (details at the end of the article).

The Round Chapel’s weekly Psychadelic Gong Bath, Monday Evenings

Like a magpie, I was brought in by the idea that Gong Baths are a type of inactive meditation. So you can reap the benefits of a meditative form without getting stuck in the weeds of it? I’ll try anything four times, and you’ve got me at ‘inactive.’

So, what is a Gong bath, I hear you cry:

Well, no baths are involved, and thankfully, you definitely remain clothed.

It’s basically an orchestric gig, all while you’re lying on your back surrounded by the smell of incense and gentle candlelight. It’s a bath because you let the sound vibrate and wash over your body.

The pyshcadelic society welcome you in with a cup of tea. You’re invited to settle into the space before you lay down comfortably on a yoga mat, and under a blanket. Definitely wrap up warm: your body temperature drops when you’re in the corpse position for well over an hour.

The session begins with an ethereal lady telling you to breathe slowly and deeply. She reminds you to really feel your body against your mat. And enjoy.

The gongs are then gradually introduced and the vibrations of the gongs are absorbed throughout the entire body, which is said to help shift stagnant energies. Other sound healing tools such as crystal bowls, chimes, drums, voice and rattles may also be used to create a diverse soundscape.

When you left all these sounds wash over you, they weirdly leave you feeling differently.

The theory behind it?

When something within us is out of tune it can cause discomfort to arise in our bodies. Stress, anger and trauma in our daily lives may negatively impact us — because this is stored in the body, it can leave us down and out. The vibrations produced in a gong bath are said to help to “tune” your body and therefore aid in restoring harmony and resonance throughout.

Whether you believe in the healing properties of the experience or not, it’s a pleasant and relaxing session. Sitting still, being present, and feeling into your body are made easy purely because it’s far easier to do so if you’re witnessing a performance. And being entertained in itself is tremendously healthy.

That and, you’re away from your phone; you’ve got your own sacred time back. It’s also just pretty cool hearing THAT combination of sounds. You can really feel the sound vibrations in your body. Depending on the instruments used, I sometimes felt it in my arms. Sometimes my stomach. Sometimes my skin.

The best thing is that you don’t feel like you can fail at a gong bath, in the way you can feel a mental block towards meditation. Why? It’s less daunting; you don’t have to do anything. It’s just a holistic experience for you to soak up.

I went in with some pent-up poisonous rage. I left feeling completely calm and energized. This occupied every inch of my body. And that’s something I’d recommend to everyone as long as you keep an open mind to the experience.

My main tip: have a wee before it all starts, and wrap up warm. There’s nothing worse than being stuck, cold, with the only thought running through your head being: ‘if I piss myself, it might warm me up?’. And that’s just a poor state of affairs.

Wearing a ‘Dead Inside’ T-shirt to a healing experience probably isn’t on the list of most sensitive things I’ve ever done.

The Sound Mysterium x The Psychedelic Society runs gong baths on a Monday at the Round Chapel in Clapton. Tickets: £15 — £25

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