The Beginning of Gong Yoga
When I first began my book Gong Yoga, it was shortly after the beginning of the 21st century.
While I had been experiencing the sound of the Gong in a Kundalini yoga environment since the early 1970s, it was some years later that I coined the term “Gong Yoga” and eventually published the first book in this area.
Since that time, my book, Gong Yoga, has been translated into Russian, Greek, French, Slovenian, Italian, Chinese, and recently Spanish and I have been teaching and practicing Gong Yoga in over 20 countries.
Yet, I was not the first to connect the Gong to the practice of Yoga. That began several hundred years ago in the temples of Java in the court of the sultans who used the sound of the Gong in a meditative fashion to connect their worldly rule to that of the cosmos.
In a collection of essays entitled Hearing the Past: The Historical Ethnomusicology and the Archaeology of Sound, Swedish researcher and scholar Inge Skog published a paper entitled “North Borneo Gongs and the Javanese Gamelan: A New Historical Perspective,” that examined the centuries old use of the Gong in the temples of Java.
She discovered that within the palace, the gongs were played in the Munggang gamelan orchestra to create a meditative connection between the rulers of the land and the cosmic forces around them.
The power of the sultans or Javanese rulers was not derived solely from earthly power, but from an emanating or divine power “kerbatinan” that was only obtained through a meditative concentration and contact with God and the accumulation of spiritual energy.
It was the role of the Munggang, the musicians and the gong players, to help create and connect this divine or cosmic energy to the ruler through their meditative playing.
The role of meditation in generating power was a common theme in the Javanese yoga traditions. Fasting, sexual abstinence, going without sleep and other austerities were practiced by the practitioners so they could focus their energies on the divine experience of “sekti.”
The gong playing was especially important during a state ritual (“garebeg”) that was performed three times a year in the court of the ruler. When the ruler ascends the throne, the players begin the sound of the gongs.
An ancient text that describes how the gongs are to be played stated that the players should “Perlahan-lahan dan tidak keras, menurut rhythme keluar masuknya nafas”.
The translation was that the gong playing should be “soft and not hard, following the rhythm of breath expiration and inhalation.”
In other words, regulated breathing, or pranayama, was used by the gong players to create a meditative experience and thereby connect the earthly plane to the spiritual realm.
And this was the Yoga of Sound, the first experience of Gong Yoga.
Try it out!
I have many upcoming IN-PERSON gong trainings scheduled:
June 10-11: How to Play the Gong – Austin, TX
August 6-8: Gong Weekend – Los Angeles, CA
August 21-29: Gong Events – London, England
September 3-6: Labor Day Gong Extravaganza – Ojai, CA