What is the difference between Gong Baths and Sound Baths?

Crystal Singing Bowls are our first love here at Holistic Serenity, but in recent years we have discovered our passion for Gong Baths as well. But people often ask us what’s the difference between a gong bath and a sound bath, and there really are a few fundamentals to it, but often it is about perception.

For a long time, Gong Baths have dominated the sound meditation environment, and in many ways that’s wonderful. However, Gongs are the one of instruments in the sound healing orchestra that can do the most damagem and are very often played without any training, or what’s worse misunderstood training.

What is a Gong Bath?

So what exactly is a Gong Bath? Well, for those who are totally new to sound healing, they don’t involve water. A Gong Bath typically only uses gongs, usually a collection of gongs. There are some who use as few as a singular gong for a bath, this is usually accompanied by some other instrument to vary the flow of the event as well but not always.

The wonderful thing about gongs is that when played correctly they can be very versatile in their range. You can raise and lower the sounds by building the vibrations up to a level, that’s not overpowering, but impactful. You can use a friction mallet or “flume” to “rub” on the surface and create different tones and levels of vibration. But ultimately the more gongs involved in the bath the more dynamic and interesting the experience will be, and the greater the range of healing that can be achieved.

Gongs like all sound healing instruments work with frequencies. Each individual gong will be tuned to create a specific frequency when played and that corresponding frequency, coupled with the ability to put the mind into a theta brainwave state is where the healing lies.

Sound healing works like a cellular massage,  using sound waves, and frequencies to put your mental, physical and emotional bodies into a state of harmony and balance. 

There are 7 main chakras/ energy centres, which are believed to correspond to certain frequencies. When these energy centres are introduced to sound waves of equal frequency they become regulated, and return to a harmonious state.

It is these sound waves that wash over the participants and balance and realign their chakras, their auric fields and luminous energy fields or light bodies, all of which are energetic fields.

The term gong bath is often used to refer to a sound healing group session, but this is not quite right, as not all sound baths use gongs, but there is no harm in this mix up, but really the best term to use for a group sound healing session is a Sound Bath.

What is a Sound Bath?

A sound bath is much like a gong bath, however, quite often, a gong won’t be played in a soundbath at all.  The  term Soundbath is much more general, and refers to a group sound healing session in which a range of different healing implements can be implemented.

Group sound healing sessions are varied, but normally you will be invited to find a comfortable place to sit or lie down, to rest upon a blanket or yoga mat, with cushions for comfort and another blanket for warmth. You may be guided into a meditation at the start, given a mantra to meditate upon or simple left to your own thoughts.

Sound baths are a time for your own inner healing, they are a place of activation and clearing. Where potentially old trauma that you’ve tried to avoid dealing with may be brought to the surface. Things you’ve not thought about in years may come to mind and you may wonder why. The real healing begins after the sound bath, where you work through these thoughts and possible emotions to understand how they integrate into your current life.

Sound baths often use a wide range of instruments, which can vast and varied so I won’t go too deep into them all but here is a little list of our favourites and some of the items we use:

  1. Crystal Singing Bowls – Tuned to similar frequencies as the gong, crystal bowls only resonate (vibrate) to one specific frequency and you will often find them in a set tunned to the 7 main chakra.
  2. Tibetan Singing Bowls – These are some of the oldest examples of known sound healing instruments alongside gongs. Depending on how they’re played they can produce different notes and frequencies, so they’re a great instrument to start using for healing as they’re quite versatile.
  3. Shamanic Drums & Rattles – Rhythm is one of the many overlooked but key elements to sound healing, a monotonous rhythm will put the human mind into a theta brainwave state, between sleep and awake, this is where we’re able to access the subconscious mind and do the most healing, very often used in shamanic healing ceremonies and practices as well.
  4. Chimes – These can be wind chimes, crystal chimes, koshi chimes, they really add a beautiful ambience to the sound bath
  5. Flutes and pipes – these give a real eastern feel to the sound bath, a calm and peaceful aspect, and work really well when layered over crystal bowls or gongs.
  6. Handpans, Steel Tongue Drums – These are one of our favourites, combining rhythm with tune to create soothing music that so gently embraces the soul. These can be purchased in the frequency tuning of 432Hz, which is also referred to as the frequency of nature and brings with it a deeper level of healing.
  7. Voice – One of the most simple but effective instruments in our own voice. Chanting like Kirtan has been used for centuries to unlock deep inner healing and can be very powerful. The use of voice isn’t used often in sound baths, so you might need to search for kirtan chanting to get the full experience of the healing voice.
gong bath, crystal bowls, drums, chimes and tibetan bowls

Where can I experience a sound bath?

We host regular sound baths and gong baths here in Ibiza and you can contact us for more information and bookings. However, if you are not visiting this magical island you will be able to find local sound healers who host sound baths in your area by simply looking online. A great bet is to contact your local yoga studio as they will no doubt be aware of some sound healers in your area.

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