In Front Of Or Behind The Gongs?

Not quite from the mail bag, but from a Facebook discussion on the right and wrong way to present a gong bath. This quote brings up an interesting point:


You know a person has a lot of experience with the gong, as a therapy, when you see them playing from behind the gong or gongs. People who are taught as "sound healers" to play with their backs to everyone, may not be too aware and sensitive to others needs.…You need to be able to see and observe what another person is receiving and feeling when giving therapy. 

Personally, I have always had my main Gongs behind me, so that when I play them, my back is to the people. This is a natural development from having the Gongs behind my drums when I was playing in progressive rock bands. Later, when I developed my solo percussion concerts, I kept the same set up. This was partly out of practicality, and partly out of not wanting to have the Gongs between me and the audience.

Solo concert set up, circa 2005: Gongs in back, drums in front.

As things evolved into me doing more Gong Meditation work, I kept the Gongs at the back. As time went on, I enlarged my setup with bowls, bells, and other instruments in front of me. This set up now has me in the middle, with Gongs behind and on one side, with bells and cymbals on the other side, and a large table with various bowls and percussion in front of me. Personally, I don't like having the Gongs between me and the people. I have tried this on a few occasions, especially when playing the Gongs along to people practicing Yoga, but I don't like the feeling of having a wall between me and everyone else.


Gongs behind me, Bells & Bowls in front of me.

Let's look at this quote further: You need to be able to see and observe what another person is receiving and feeling when giving therapy. I agree that if you are doing one-on-one therapy with a person, you should be able to watch them and see how they are responding to the sounds. I would also think that being able to see a larger audience while presenting a therapy session may be helpful. This can all be very practical and helpful to the therapist.

People who are taught as "sound healers" to play with their backs to everyone, may not be too aware and sensitive to others needs. But what about someone like myself? I am not a therapist or a healer, and I don't claim to present any sort of therapy when playing the Gongs/Bowls/Bells. I merely present the sounds as they are for the people to use them however they want. I do believe that the sounds/vibrations can help people to reach a deep, relaxed state, where their mind/body/spirit is open, and then perhaps able to release blockages and/or repair itself. But I make no claims as to being a healer or therapist.

But when my back is to the people, I am paying attention. I am using all my senses, including a 6th sense, to tune in to what sort of vibrations or intentions the people are putting out. For myself, I don't have to look at anyone to know what is going on. This is all part of being empathic and clair sentient (but that's a story for another day perhaps). 

When my eyes aren't closed, I'm looking at what I'm doing, because I use a very large set up and and am constantly moving around it. Taking the time to look at the people isn't something I normally do, even as a musician in a concert. I'm much too busy just making the music and have learned to feel what is going on around me.

I have many friends who prefer to sit behind their Gongs while facing the people. I prefer to stand up in the middle of my set up and face whatever instruments I am playing at the time. Is either way better or more preferable? I don't think so. 

Each of us is different, and I feel that it's important to find what works for you and the type of work you do.

~ MB


Chop Wood / Carry Water / Play Gongs™





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