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Gong bath at Unitarian Universalist Church

Gong bather Judy Strauss loves this gong.

Gong bather Judy Strauss loves this gong.

Never writing about the “process” of making journalism is a journalistic cliché. It’s considered “bad” by many conventional journalists, but I’ve always felt as though readers, being one myself, like to know why choices are made, why things are ignored when other things are focused upon. Anyway, in this case, I think the public is better served by a story in advance of an event than a review of the event. I know some people will be interested in participating, but they won’t be able to if they don’t hear about it until after it occurs.

At 7:30 p.m. on Dec. 20, there will be a gong bath at the Unitarian Universalist Church to celebrate the winter solstice, when the sun reaches its southernmost point in the sky, which actually occurs here at 9:47 a.m. on Dec. 21. Gong masters Don Conreaux and Richard Rudis will lead. They will use earth gongs, tuned to the vibration of the mantra, Om.

Now, I can’t dwell too much on Conreaux’s and Rudis’ accomplishments and experience, or there won’t be room to explain what’s going on, but suffice it to say, these two men are world renowned in their fields. (For more biographical information, see and, respectively.)

A gong bath, to put it simply, is meditation to the sound of a gong. But that’s too simplistic, so let me explain it another way. We know that vibrations can have a therapeutic effect, for example, ultrasound treatments on sports injuries. We also know that vibrations, through music, can have emotional effects on us, for example, minor keys make us feel sad, a tritone interval, like used by Black Sabbath, can make us feel anxious.

In other circumstances, dissonant noises, like those at a construction site, can be felt in the body, creating irritation. The sonic impact of explosions can actually damage the human body and brain. We know that water trickling at a certain speed makes us feel mellow.

All those effects are caused by sound vibrations. Everything in the universe—even light—vibrates at its own frequency, sometimes in concert with other frequencies, like an operatic voice making a crystal goblet explode with vibration or a barbershop quartet in harmony.

Now, what if someone had a notion to create a vibration that worked within the human being to elicit feelings of depth or stillness or health?

I don’t have the physics to explain why all this is true, but I have experienced it first hand. One such place was at the Cathedral Church of the Americas on Easter Sunday last year, during which they “toned” long resonances to evoke particular feelings. Gongs have been used in Eastern religious practices for more than 5,000 years.

Event organizer Judy Strauss, who is also a gong player who will be giving her own gong bath on Feb. 7, says, “At the very minimum, [participants] can expect to be completely relaxed afterwards. … It’s a very healing experience. The vibrations go into the body, and the organs themselves hear the natural frequency at which they vibrate, and it helps people return to health. But the big thing for me is it stops the left-brain chatter and opens the right brain to a meditative space of receiving inspiration from whatever source—whatever we believe.”

In other words, people feel better and more in tune with the universe after meditating while a gong is toned by someone who knows gongs.