Let’s just start by clarifying that gong baths do not involve water of any kind – no tub, no sybaritic soaking, no bubbly indulgence. That knowledge aside, I had no idea what to expect when I arrived at Innerlight Center for Yoga & Meditation in Middletown for one of the center’s quarterly gong baths. Walking in the darkened studio on a Sunday evening, I saw bodies scattered about, all tucked down into layers of blankets (thankfully fully clothed, despite the “bath” moniker) as if settling in for a long winter’s nap. Following the others, I rolled out a yoga mat and grabbed four blankets: one to spread over the mat, one to act as a bolt under the knees, and two to snuggle under. I quickly realized this was going to be a more meditative experience than I thought and I was psyched – I’m much better at laying like a log than elevating myself via crane pose.
Jess Elliott introduced herself in a calming voice and nearly half of the room joined me when she asked how many of us were first timers. She explained that we should be sure we had enough support underneath us as laying on the floor for 45 minutes sounds easy but can err on the side of uncomfortable if not properly prepared. She also said it was perfectly normal to fall asleep and that she didn’t mind a few snores here or there. With that, everyone lowered flat to the floor and Jess instructed us to set our intention for the session.
Soon, Jess’s meditative instruction was replaced by the tapping of the gong. I guessed the “bath” might be a series of gentle, repetitive taps, but instead, the taps crescendoed into loud, echoing gong vibrations. The remainder of the class was a series of vibrations ranging from soft, melodic “swirls” to thunderous, deep booms. Each moment that passed by seemed to beg the body to relax fully and invite a profound sense of calm to pulse throughout our bodies, allowing us to enter a meditative state. This doesn’t mean fleeting thoughts like what I had in the house to make for dinner didn’t cross my mind, but by in large, the dramatic experience left me both energized and mindful at the same time. Namaste.
Innerlight Center for Yoga & Meditation
850 Aquidneck Avenue, Middletown