The Private Gong Immersion

A few months ago I had a private session with my gong instructor in Orange County. He really is a master of everything, but he uses the gong as a sort of gateway drug to get his students to study topics like Tantra and the Runes and Numerology. In order to graduate from his first year program all students are required to experience a private session with him. I waited almost a year to actually schedule the session. I like to be in control and I was unsure if I would be able to stay in control in a room with over a dozen gongs playing just for me.

I arrived the way I usually arrive for things- skeptical but cautiously optimistic. He was just finishing up a private session with one of my fellow students when I walked in the door. I could see she was full of joy. She was transcendent. I saw that this as a good sign for me. I’ve always wanted to be transcendent.

The session began with a thorough analysis of my numerology, both Kundalini and Tantric. We figured out my numbers and referenced several books; he had me read from the passages that pertained to my numbers. He checked in with me with every passage, asking me if what I was reading resonated with me, making sure I knew that whatever was in the books wasn’t a life sentence, it wasn’t written in stone, that the numbers are really just a guideline, a peek into something that might shed some light on the inner workings of my psyche and my mind.

Based on the numbers and the various aspects written about my numerology he worked with me to develop a new daily spiritual practice for myself. I’ve been very inconsistent with my daily practice the last year of so. I know that I’ve fallen off the spirituality bandwagon, so to speak. He was very patient with me and offered various suggestions that would be well suited to me specifically based on everything that we had talked about. One of the reasons that I’d gone over the deep end with my practice is because I hadn’t been able to find a routine that really resonated with me. We worked together to craft a 30-minute routine. I knew that it was not only practical when I left, but it felt right.

As his student I’d previously been cautious around him. He really is a master of everything. He was a professional ballet dancer. He’s a master of martial arts, skydiving, scuba diving, Kundalini yoga, and Tantra. I’ve always been a little in awe of him; he’s a master of so much. I’ve never really felt connected; I’ve always held myself separate from him. I know it’s been in my own head, but I didn’t want to feel judged by such a master. So I just disconnected. In this session I saw a totally different side of him. He was incredibly generous and excruciatingly kind. I saw nothing but love and compassion in him. Yet he was honest and respectful and fair. I found that I was willing to trust him and that the real truth wasn’t that he had been judging me, it was that I had been judging him.

Then he said, “Let’s go to the gongs.” I shuddered a little bit. Yes, this is what I had come for, a private immersion with a dozen gongs. I didn’t tell him I was apprehensive, afraid, but I was. What would unfold for me? Would I be strong enough to maintain control AND to release and relax just enough to really experience everything I could in that space?

I moved into the next room and got comfortable, quietly trying to prepare myself. He spoke gently and calmly to me. He started with a couple of tuning forks. He played them around my ears to balance my left and right brain. He placed them on my third eye and my heart. I found that I couldn’t stop smiling as he was doing this. It was absolutely delightful. He then carefully, delicately placed an eye pillow over my eyes. He placed a singing bowl right over my heart and played it. I could feel the vibrations from the bowl filling my heart and indicating to me that something sacred was about to begin.

Then he started playing the gongs. He has over a dozen gongs in a room and I was in the center of all of them. At first I was intent on noticing everything that was going on in my body and in my head. I was cataloging and interpreting every feeling and every thought. I was thinking about how I would talk about this when it was over. I was analyzing how the gongs were affecting my emotions and my physical body. I knew that if I kept cataloging every sensation that I could maintain control and experience SOMETHING from the gongs but not so much that I would be taken to a different place. Not so much that I would be taken out of my rational mind. I wasn’t willing to lose control.

Somewhere in the middle of all that thinking and all that maintaining I started to drift. I kept having brief flashes to my childhood, the beach where I played alone as a child in Montana, the building where I used to wait for the school bus in the third grade, and the go-to place that I find myself visiting again and again in meditation, a meadow where I used to hunt for Easter Eggs with my sisters. I found my mind interrupting, trying to regain its dominance. I started feeling out of control, that I wasn’t safe; there was a feeling of being overwhelmed.

Then, almost effortlessly, there was a knowing that not only was I safe, but that I was absolutely divinely taken care of. I felt myself lift, like my soul was being elevated into a space ship. I felt cradled and cared for. Space and time didn’t matter, I knew that I didn’t have to be in charge, I could just let go and I would be held. It was marvelous. It was glorious. I knew that I was completely in my truth and that I was just fine as I was.

I don’t know how long I was in this state. Eventually the gongs started to become quiet, my teacher talked me back into the room, he played Tibetan bells, he quietly and softly helped me transition back into this physical world.

I sat up dazed and grateful. Happy. Peaceful.

We spoke about the different gongs and which gong might be the right gong for me, I had been debating for months about which gong I wanted to acquire for myself. He recommended Venus, the gong associated with relationships and love. I was hesitant; Venus has never played for me. It’s a smaller gong, and it requires skill and finesse. He claimed that this was exactly why I should consider Venus. He talked about what I think is his favorite topic, the resolution inside the self of male and female energy, the blending of the polarities. I nodded. I understood.

Then he said, “There’s a mediation to help with this blending of the polarities, would you like me to show you?”

If this would have been offered to me before the gong immersion I would most likely have said, “No! I have to go.” But since I was in such a state of bliss and trust I said, “Yes, of course.”

He had me sit cross-legged in front of him and meditate. He asked me how I felt. I felt a strong feeling of heat in my heart going into my throat. Then he pulled me closer to him, so close that I essentially ended up on top of him with my legs crossed behind his back. He put his arms around me and I put my arms around him and we just sat there pressed against each other breathing. Initially I was a little cautious. But that’s really all it was, just breathing. It wasn’t creepy. It wasn’t weird. It wasn’t really sexual. It felt completely natural. My chest was filled with an incredible heat. I didn’t think about how big my stomach was or how smooth or lumpy my back was where his hands were touching me. For perhaps the very first time in my life I just felt held. Safe. Pure. Absolutely accepted and supported for who I truly am, not the mask that I put on day after day for the world.

At one point he quietly told me to relax. I noticed then that there was still a little chatter in my mind, not the usual constant self-criticism, just a few little mutterings here and there- my feet are crossed and it’s a little uncomfortable, I need to relax deeper, etc. I was in a state where I was totally willing to trust him so I just let go. Really and totally and completely let go. The chatter in my mind stopped. There was nothing but comfort and safety and peace. I couldn’t tell you how long we spent in this meditation. It could have been 20 minutes or it could have been an hour. At the end he kissed me on each cheek and we both sat back and spent a few more minutes in meditation.

Afterwards he asked me how I felt. I muttered something that was most likely unintelligible. I was undone. My world had been turned upside down. I had been shown a new and better path to life. I was overcome with this feeling of heat in my heart, in this newfound feeling of love in myself. He said that this was the balancing of the male and female energies inside myself, and that I could come back to this place anytime I want. This feeling could be like a roadmap to bring me back home.

This was one of the most powerful experiences I’ve had in my life. I was able to feel completely accepted and held by a man. It wasn’t about power. It wasn’t about control or manipulation or sacrifice. It was just honest and beautiful and clean love. I realized that my teacher was absolutely and completely in service to me. He didn’t have any ulterior motives; his only intention was to help me.

I will be forever grateful to him for showing me a glimpse of the true nature of love. And for opening up a space where I could see that I could just be myself and feel safe.

Sat Nam.