A MENTAL SHOWER IN OUTER SPACE

BY SIRIATMA KAUR

PHOTOS BY DEBBY SIEGEL

A good gong session often feels like you are floating in outer space, blurring the lines of where you end, and where the vast vast cosmos begins. From the very first strike of the mallet, you feel it – you’re in for a ride. It is said that any and all sounds that can possibly exist can be created from the gong. Within 3-90 seconds the mind realizes that there is no way to organize or predict what its hearing, and you feel as if your mental reset button has been pressed. This happens because the sounds of the gong are not harmonious. The experience tends to take you into a Theta brainwave state, which is like a dream state – things are coming up from the subconscious mind. One might experience vivid visualizations or emotions similar to a dream, the difference being that the gong is helping to actually clear the subconscious mind. The subconscious mind can eventually “fill up” and begin to spill into the unconscious mind, at which point our work to clear the garbage becomes much more challenging. A gong meditation, like any meditation, is essentially like taking a mental shower. Just as we clean our bodies to keep them healthy and pleasant, it is necessary to clean or clear the mind to keep  a state of optimal balance and well-being. The advantage of sound healing meditation is simply that you do not have to do anything but let go and let the gong take you wherever it is you need to go!

As we all know, letting go is not always easy. Sometimes we notice the junk being drawn up from the subconscious and we might attach to it. The attachment might feel somewhat unpleasant if we experience self-judgement, sadness, or any other thought or emotion stemming from fear. In those brief moments it is extremely helpful to focus on the sound and ride that sound current into the Infinite. Remember, this crud is being drawn up to be cleared out. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, opening the eyes and watching as the sounds are created proves to be very grounding. A good cleansing cry can be a beautiful release, and is very common in Kundalini Yoga classes and gong sound healing sessions. The gong offers many benefits, like balancing one’s glandular, circulatory, and nervous systems. In a “gong bath” students are bathed in sound vibrations helping to alleviate stress while inducing deep relaxation and restoration. Time often goes by very quickly – 90 minutes may feel like only 10. The experience is different for everyone, every time.

There are of course the variables of different gong types, and the different intuitive processes and styles of each sound healer, but remarkably the most impactful variant is due to the ever-changing arrangement of the extremely fine hairs inside one’s ears which determines how each gong session is received. 

One constant tends to be how awed and amazed attendees feel as they share “where” they went during their experience, and the testimonies of lasting impacts of self-awareness.

Most gong sessions range from 15 minutes at the end of a Kundalini Yoga class, to 90 minutes in a gong bath or sound healing meditation. St. Louis is lucky to have many sound healers and gongs in the community, several of which will be coming together on New Year’s Eve at Urban Breath in Maplewood to co-create an All Night Gong Puja. The event begins at 9pm with a brief meditation series for prosperity, and proceeds with continuous sound healing until 3am on New Year’s Day. Whether you sleep, or remain in an aware meditative state, this could very well be the highlight of your holiday festivities. No need to drive at 3am when the sound healing ends. After an hour of quiet time, Aquarian Sadhana, a separate donation oriented event, will begin at 4am and last until 6:30am, to which all are welcome. Just like the Gong Puja, you’ll be soaking up the healing vibes even if you choose to slumber. Visit urbanbreathyoga.com for detailed descriptions of both events or to register should you decide you’re going…going…GONG!


SiriAtma Kaur: 

SiriAtma’s yoga journey began in the summer of 2010 when she started practicing to relieve stress. Just two years later, she completed her first yoga teacher training in hatha yoga with East-West Natural Healing and in 2013, she finished a 200-hour Kundalini yoga training with SatInder Kaur Khalsa and KartaPurkh Singh Khalsa at the Sat Tirath Ashram in Kansas City. SiriAtma holds a SuperHealth Certification, which is focused on healing addictive behavior with Kundalini yoga and meditation. Her Kundalini classes incorporate movement, breathwork, and chanting and are invigorating and aimed at inspiring bhakti (devotion to the highest self). SiriAtma’s personal practice has increased her self-awareness and improved her ability to respond to stressors. Her compassionate and encouraging teaching style encourages the same in students. When she’s not practicing and teaching Kundalini and hatha yoga classes, SiriAtma is exploring life with her three young sons, maybe dancing, singing, or enjoying nature. And if you’re curious, there are long locks underneath her turban; SiriAtma doesn’t cut her hair, as it’s said to strengthen the aura. 

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