Gong Rebirthing Retreat
Did you ever participate in a gong meditation? It’s an ancient healing technique from the tradition of kundalini yoga. I’ve done a couple within the last years and I can say that’s some powerful stuff!
A few times I felt catapulted deeply into bliss and my ego was more or less completely melted for hours. I remember one time I was so high I couldn’t even hold my cup of tea afterwards without spilling half of it. Mamma Mia, scandaloso!
At other meditations I experienced more subtle effects with the gong seeming to work on physical issues and injuries. Of course these are all only my personal experiences. It could be completely different for you…
This weekend I will attend the gong rebirthing retreat with Jap Nirantar who learned the technique almost exactly one year ago from his (and my) teacher Nanak Dev Singh. In the interview below he explains what a gong meditation is and shares his personal love story with the gong.
I recorded this interview already a while ago – except the first question which I added later based on info I got from Jap Nirantar. For some reason I didn’t manage to transcript the original interview for a long time and when it was finally done I never found the right occasion to publish it. But now I feel we have come finally full circle – and I mean that probably more literal than you could imagine… So here it is.
Jap Nirantar, what is gong rebirthing?
Gong Rebirthing is a super old science from the Golden Age of yoga. During the rebirthing a multitude of deep energetic trance states can free the consciousness from pain, trauma, shock and fear. It can open and/or heal damaged nadis (energy channels) and thus create a natural, joyous and flowing way of life.
Within a time span of three days three different and intensifying gong meditations take place. We prepare the nervous system with a specific kundalini yoga kriya and balance it with panthra, a grounding technique from the Indian martial art gatka.
how did your gong journey start?
Of course I experienced the gong myself! Three or four years ago at the German Kundalini Yoga Festival with the Hamburg-based female gong player Ada Namani Devinderjit. I had a look at the festival schedule and became curious about the gong meditation. So I went there.
It was just right after lunch. And we had a lot of food! Really heavy food for a yoga festival. When I arrived at the hall, it was already completely crowded, but directly next to the gong there was still little bit of space and I asked Ada if I could lay down there. She said, yes, you can. It’s going to be very loud here, but it’s okay, you can stand it. I’ve been so full and just wanted to lay down and listen to the gong.
But before we could relax, we did a tough kundalini yoga set to prepare for the gong. With many frogs and stuff! After the kriya, Ada finally told us to lay down and cover ourselves up with a blanket. And I immediately fell asleep, maybe also because of the heavy food. I’ve been completely gone from the first gong beat until the last one. Which is the perfect pre-condition, because during sleep, your body is in a state of complete relaxation that makes it perfectly permeable for the gong sound. When you sleep you don’t think.
…That’s right, but then you also don’t hear the gong?
It’s not only about acoustic perception. People often think the gong is an instrument like a guitar or a violin. It’s true that you can hear the play of the gong. But at the same time the sound vibration permeates your whole system. It’s a multidimensional form of perception that exceeds the pure acoustic sensation.
How does that work? How do the sound waves permeate your body?
If we assume that eventually everything is sound, everything is vibration, then your body and my body, this apricot here and the dresser over there are each a specific form of frequency and vibration that have manifested in this space-time-entity as dresser or apricot or body.
If you come along here again in ten thousand years, then the dresser and this house will probably not be there anymore in this form, but they will have taken another vibration and exist on another level. It’s the same with your body. Ultimately, a body is a unity of different frequency levels.
You can imagine that your real being, your body but also all of your experiences and memories that you collected until now in this life exist as a form of vibration. All our experiences are archived in the system, the nerve system, the cell system and so on. Where they are archived depends on how we evaluate them: experiences we see as pleasant tend to lie in the high frequency area, negative experiences rather in the low frequencies.
The gong transmits very low and mellow frequencies but through the continuous rise of the sound stream also these high rocking overtones. This is the gong in principle: it transmits a multitude of frequencies at the same time and thus can heal in all frequency fields. At the particular time when a person decides to join a gong meditation, the gong will work on just these patterns and structures and frequency fields that require work at this time.
How do you become a gong player?
It’s a process that takes a long time and requires constant practice, alone, with groups and in one-on-one sessions. It takes approximately 30 years until you have played your gong into its full spectrum, until you completely understand it. You can’t go to a weekend seminar and then feel as a gong master afterwards. And also the gong needs time to understand its player: Ah, this is somebody that wants to do this and that with me! This can only work through a very intensive relationship that you build up with the gong over time and practice.
In addition to that we learned a special technique from Yogi Bhajan (the yogi who brought kundalini yoga to the West). It differs completely from others who just play the gong intuitively. The technique facilitates complete control of every single gong beat and its effect during the whole time (between 25 and 40 minutes). It’s crucial to lead every single person within a group of 10, 100, 1000 people safely through the trance state.
What are the risks if you do not have control over every gong beat?
A person could feel seriously overwhelmed by the intensity and power of the gong. This happens sometimes in group gong meditations. If the player knows and sticks to the rules and techniques this is safe and belongs to the healing process. However, in theory with one single not thought-through gong beat you can send somebody elsewhere. Thus, it is an enormous responsibility to lead a group of people into and out of the trance state.
How do you experience the gong when you play it? How do you prevent spacing out?
There is a range of techniques that I apply before, during and after the meditation. For instance the way I use the mallet, the continuous beat, beat for beat for beat. I prepare myself with a mantra. And I carefully sense what happens, I build up a connection with the group.
Eventually you can imagine it as an inter-vibratory system. There is ultimately no separation between me, the gong and the group, but everything melts into a complete communication system. In principle I am just serving as the communicator between the gong, the sound and the people. The gong transmits the sound, the sound permeates the space, permeates the group and feedbacks back through me. This is the information I need to tell the gong how to proceed. The gong then tells me how to go on.
Thank you very much, Jap Nirantar!
Got interested? If you have some basic kundalini yoga experience you could theoretically still participate in the retreat this weekend…
Here you find some more info about the retreat as well as more possibilities to experience gong meditations with Jap Nirantar: http://www.yoga-und-gongmeditation.de/
If you want to learn how to play the gong yourself you should definitely check out the teacher training Jap Nirantar offers together with Ada Namani Devinderjit in 2016: http://www.white-sound.de/