The Myth of the Two Week Master - Part 2
The response to my last post has been intense, to say the least. It quickly became the 2nd most read blog post. I seemed to have touched a nerve in some people, or said what others were only thinking. To this I say, GOOD! Dialog is important. Mutual understanding is important. The sharing of ideas is important. That's one reason I write these blogs.
But in the ensuing discussion, with people talking about the use of titles, I feel that the original point has been lost. I'm not against titles or designations of some sort. People can call themselves whatever they want. If you want to advertise yourself as "Lord of the Gong," so be it. You are free to call yourself what you want. But again, I want to state my original point:
Just because you bought a Gong 2 weeks ago, doesn't mean you should be presenting Gong Sessions to the public!
What I am questioning is people who buy a Gong or Bowl (or take up any sort of Yoga/Massage/Reiki/etc. practice), and 2 or 3 weeks later start offering their services. What can you know/learn in a few weeks, or a few months? Unfortunately, there is a proliferation of 'instant experts' out there today. Because of the internet, you now have access to more information than anyone else in history. But again, just because you read a few articles on using Gongs for meditation or therapy, doesn't mean you can/should start hiring yourself out right away.
Another example is a Yoga teacher I spoke with a while ago. She had just finished her Reiki certification and attunement. Her kids, ages 8 & 10, asked to be attuned, so she did it. What sort of purpose could that serve? What sort of training did her kids have? This seems rather irresponsible to me. You might as well stand on the corner and hand out certificates to random people.
Now the question did come up: how do you start? Someone suggested playing for friends and family. This is an excellent way to get things going and gain some experience. Many people going into a profession have done that: cook for friends before becoming a chef/restaurant owner, making clothes for your family before becoming a designer, etc. There is a pathway to everything.
A Siberian Evenk Shaman elder with a
collection of shamanic objects, early 1900s.
collection of shamanic objects, early 1900s.
I like that there is a formal Yoga training, like Integrative Yoga Therapy, where you take 200 hours of training over 8 or so months. Then you can put ‘IYT 200’ on your website/brochure, letting people know you’ve had that much training. It’s an ongoing process, so you can accumulate more hours of training, and years later put ‘IYT 500’ or similar on your materials. Yoga, which is an ancient tradition, has both lineage and formalized training throughout the different schools.
I would be foolish to take a month of Yoga classes and then advertise myself as a Yoga teacher.
Now as for Sound Therapy, besides going to university to become a Certified Musical Therapist (MT-BC = Music Therapist-Board Certified), it hasn’t developed a real network of training. There are some excellent teachers out there, like Don Conreaux, Mitch Nur, Sheila Whitaker, Jens Zyger, Aidan McIntyre, and others, who offer formal training & workshops in Gongs/Bowls/Sound Therapy. And for them, it’s not a “come to my ½ day workshop and be certified to go out and heal the world” sort of thing. They offer ongoing training in different aspects of sound and sound therapy. And as I wrote in the previous blog post, “You have to be in it for the duration, which is really life long.”
To be realistic, not everyone who wants to be a sound healer can, or should, become one. Just as not everyone who wants to be a star athlete can become one. As much as I have a love for ice hockey, I realized there was no way I could ever be a pro/amateur ice hockey player. Some people are born to be what they become, others are chosen by outside forces (even against their own desires).
"So what should I do to become a Sound Therapy Lord of the Dance Gong Master Yoda?"
INVESTIGATE WHAT YOU WANT TO DO!
Yes, you can go on the internet and read a lot of related articles and watch a lot of videos. This is a start. But you need to get out and do your field work: go to Gong & Bowl Sessions, and to sessions of various healing modalities (Reiki, reflexology, acupuncture, Shamanic journeys, etc.). Talk to others doing what you want to do. Take a class/workshop. Start practicing by yourself to gain some sort of technique and ability. Investigate and study related areas of spirituality, science & physics, acoustics, other healing modalities, Shamanism, ancient religious texts—PAY ATTENTION to everything around you! Everyone is different, so everyone's journey will be different. Follow your intuition and start on the path.
Recently I was going through a box of papers and I found an academic paper I had written in 1995 about Sound Therapy & Drum Circles. Back then, drum circles were a newer thing and I was intrigued by the affect they had on people. So what did I do? I contacted the people who were the leaders in the field and interviewed them. I found out as much as I could from each of them and also got pointed to other people, books, articles, etc. to check out.
As I walked the path, it became wider.
The same thing with Gongs/Bowls/Bells: I wrote letters to the people who were already doing what I wanted to do. I asked them questions. I read what books and articles I could find. And I worked on what I was doing in my studio. Eventually, I did bring the Gongs out for family and friends. I paid attention to how they reacted and what they said. Then I studied more. We're talking about years here. And I'm still studying. It is a never ending process. Even now, I feel that I've only begun to scratch the surface of this whole sound & vibration thing.
Like anything in your life you are serious about, you need to make a commitment and keep adding to your knowledge base. This is a lifetime long apprenticeship.
Next week, Part 3 - Walking The Path
Chop Wood | Carry Water | Play Gongs