We are often joking at the end of a gong bath... shall we stay here all night? The thought of stepping back into the 'real world' doesn't always appeal after being cocooned in healing vibrations or experiencing the cleansing effects of the gong.
The gong puja is a chance to do just that... curl up in the gong space, bedding and all, from 9 or 10pm to early morning. Where does this magical occasion originate from? Grand gong master Don Conreaux received the wisdom from his teacher Yogi Bhajan that 10 consecutive 40 minute gong baths could shift any blockage. Don put these treatments back to back in an all night session, wrapped up with ceremony and reverence.
The 'puja' comes from India of course, where there are ceremonies for all sorts of traditional and family occasions as well as specific deities. Life revolves around the daily pujas conducted in most homes as well as at temple. We can take much from this appreciation of ritual; the understanding that to reach out to god or our highest self we need conscious and symbolic actions to bypass our ego mind. And devotion of course.
So with the gong puja we use the instruments to get to a place of divine connection or healing. We create a sacred space (a gong temple for our gong puja) by wearing white to play, cleansing the energetic environment and often including chanting, breath-work and seasonal symbolism. Several players are on rotation with 8 or more gongs; keeping them sounding continuously at a meditative level.
Of course ritual can be hollow if we are sitting on a disbelieving sideline, or if we are checked out while taking part... the gong puja works most effectively when we are invested, involved, intending. Just as we may surrender our negative emotions at the feet of a deity or offer the fruits of our actions up to a higher ideal, this is a super charged opportunity to shift into a new frequency with the gong as our vehicle.
The sheer volume of vibration we absorb in a puja is transformational in itself - on a cellular level the gong is believed to break up blockages and remove toxins. Energetically it restores the balance of the subtle body, increasing the flow of prana (life force). On a mental and emotional level the gong takes us to a place of subconscious cleansing and even spiritual insight.
There is the added power of the group, which we feel fleetingly when laying down in a gong bath but much more deeply when we are both receivers and players; co-creators of transformation. When sharing our nerves about drawing the 4am slot or clanking a mallet... and then gratefully sipping tea together after emerging from the deep deep post gong silence.
I cannot know what the gong puja will offer you... but I can tell you that I've received and participated in many pujas and each experience has been subtly powerful in its own way. Sometimes I've arrived exhausted and not heard much at all, but drifted in and out of a blissful sleep-trance. At others I've meditated easily through the night or received specific messages (even on the train on the way home) about the direction of my life. In the first occasions playing I was slapped in the face by my old ego fears about not being good enough, in later pujas I found these fears being cleansed. I've sometimes heard divine songs in the gongs and had glimpses of what is to come.
Just as the gong may call you to play at some point, it seems it will nudge you when it's time to offer a deeper level of experience. If you are drawn to the idea of a gong puja I am hosting a Cornwall event on 5th Nov at Roselidden Farm, Helston (for Samhain) and co-hosting (with Simone Salvatici) a gong intro workshop & puja in London on 16th & 17th June (for summer solstice). If you attend the London workshop you actually get to play in the puja. Contact me for details!