Sound Healing for Mental Health: Gong Meditation as an Evidence-Based Practice
Gong meditation gained visibility in the western world back in the 50s and 60s. Christopher Cross conducted sound baths using gongs at Woodstock and in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, California. In the decades since then, the body of research data establishing efficacy of sound healing techniques that show promise as mental health interventions. Unfortunately, the two fields (i.e., mental health and sound healing) remain to be integrated in any meaningful sense. Mental health practitioners view sound healing as quackery. Many sound healers view mental health practitioners as irrelevant. In the world of sound healing, the use of psychotropic medications is harmful to one’s spiritual and energetic well being.
There is a growing body of evidence supporting the use of sound healing techniques for mental health and well being. A cohort of predominantly German scientist-practitioners conducted research in the late-Twentieth Century which showed measurable effects that were beneficial for those suffering from anxiety or stress. More recently, researchers have explored the effects of playing a symphonic gong in public settings using qualitative methods. The two bodies of literature remain to be successfully tied together in scholarly writings. Dr. Khalsa hopes to lay the foundation for sound healing as an evidence-based practice for individuals with anxiety. He is also of the opinion that gong meditation in particular can offer benefits for other mental disorders.
Future Clinical Research Studying Gong Meditation
Dr. Khalsa is focused on measuring the use of gong meditation in a clinical setting using quantitative research methods. This may be at odds with established esoteric practices which are more free-flow in nature. Gong meditation as a mental health intervention is conceived as an adjunct treatment for individuals with anxiety. It could conceivably help to reduce dosage and/or frequency of psychoactive meditation. Ideally, a form of “gong meditation therapy” can be developed that fits into the realm of clinical treatments for anxiety, among others.
Gong meditation therapy is not intended to replace the esoteric practice of sound bath. It is intended to support healing and wellbeing for those who might otherwise be treated exclusively using medication. Gong meditation represents a non-invasive treatment with few if any side effects. Research studying its potential therapeutic benefits can clarify its effects on human consciousness. Adding it as an evidence-based practice would enable those in need to pay for sessions through their insurance.