Gong Meditation as an Evidence-Based Practice
Gong meditation gained visibility in the western world back in the 50s and 60s starting with the work of the late Christopher Cross who conducted sound baths using gongs at Woodstock and in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, California. In the decades since then a number of practitioners and researchers have slowly added research data establishing efficacy of a variety of techniques that can potentially be used as mental health interventions. Unfortunately, the two fields (i.e., mental health and sound healing) remain to be integrated in any meaningful sense and often mental health practitioners view sound healing as quackery and sound healers view mental health practitioners as irrelevant and harmful to one’s well being due to the use of psychotropic medications.
There is a growing body of evidence supporting the use of sound healing techniques for mental health and well being. Research was conducted by a cohort of predominantly German scientist-practitioners in the late-Twentieth Century which showed measurable effects that were beneficial for those suffering from anxiety or stress. More recently, research has been published exploring the effects of playing a symphonic gong in individual as well as public settings. The two bodies of literature lack a grounding in quantitative data in order to lay the foundation for sound healing as an evidence-based practice for anxiety and possibly other mental disorders as defined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders.
Future Clinical Research Studying Gong Meditation
Dr. Khalsa is focused on establishing the use of gong meditation in a clinical setting in clinically valid way that shows measurable benefits. This may be at odds with established esoteric practices and techniques given the free-flow, improvised nature of gong meditation and sound baths. Gong meditation as a mental health intervention is conceived as an adjunct treatment and possibly a replacement for medication which is administered on a daily schedule in regular doses. For gong meditation to integrate into the field of mental health, it needs to be “administered” on a daily schedule and in a repeatable way the can be compared to medication.
Gong meditation as an evidence-based practice for anxiety is not intended to replace the esoteric practice of sound bath. Rather, it is intended to bring healing and improve well being for those who might otherwise rely solely on medication for treatment of anxiety. By adding gong meditation as an evidence-based practice, individuals will potentially be able to receive a non-invasive treatment with few if any side effects that would be covered by their insurance.