Don Conreaux is a world renowned Gong Master. I was fortunate to experience one of his Gong Baths when he visited Wales recently.
I had already experienced a gong bath given by Jules Heavens when she ran a sound healing day for me and my students, so I was pretty sure I would enjoy the experience. My partner and I arrived nice and early to get a space right at the front, ‘the enthusiasts’ spaces as Don would comment later.
There was a good sized group attending. Don had been running workshops over the weekend and many of those attending had been taking part, but there were also some ‘gong virgins’ about to get their first experience.
We’d brought yoga mats and a cushion each for our heads, but some had brought makeshift beds and snuggled in as if tucked up for the night. I envied them their comfort, but knew that I’d fall fast asleep if I got too cosy and I didn’t want to be the one snoring!
Don has a lovely energy, he is gentle, calm and yet powerful too. He began by singing a beautiful blessing and chanting and ended the gong bath in the same way. He has a mellow voice that is full of reverence for Spirit.
When Don and his guest musician Sheila started to play the gongs it took me a while to lose myself in their music, but from the start the range of noises they could extract from a circle of beaten metal intrigued me. They started playing with a noise akin to whale music and later on the gonging became the sound of wolves howling in my head. Still later I could perceive voices talking behind the music, but I couldn’t quite focus on the words.
A gong bath is an appropriate name for the experience. You do feel like you are being bathed in sound. I felt a few physical stabbing pains in my arms during the process. All were piercing but fleeting and they didn’t worry me. I suspect the pains were along meridian channels and that they were being cleared by the sound. By the end all discomfort had gone.
When the gong bath was over I felt pleasantly chilled out, but my partner was tense and short tempered. I felt something had been ‘vibrated’ to the surface in him and it needed releasing. He was fine after a night’s sleep and has been unbearably chirpy since!
I had the chance to watch Don play a free concert in Brecon Cathedral at lunchtime the next day. I wanted to go, partly because I would enjoy it, but also to see how he played the gongs, as during the gong bath I’d had my eyes closed. I took my eleven year old son with me as he’d loved playing Jules’ gongs. The Cathedral is a beautiful building and it was a suitably grand setting for the concert. The acoustics were wonderful, as you’d expect. I also thought it was encouraging that the Dean welcomed the audience and gave his approval to the concert.
It was lovely to bump into Jules again there and I saw a few people I know who had been on Don’s workshop weekend. They were there to participate in the concert. I found out a few of the ‘tricks’ behind the weird and wonderful noises too. The whale music was created by lovingly caressing the gongs with brightly coloured ‘super bounce’ balls; however that didn’t spoil the magic of the sound for me!
If you get the opportunity to experience a gong bath, with Don, or with another sound practitioner do take it. I’ve ordered a sweet looking small gong with a double dragon design from a fair-trade musical instrument company called Rainstick Trading. It’s not the size that Don uses, but from the sound sample on their site it still sounds like a ‘proper gong’ and I’m eagerly anticipating its arrival!
Meanwhile I have one of Don’s CDs to keep me happy. For the full experience it’s best listened to at full volume when the neighbours are out, or through headphones if you have them!