Experience a gong bath at House of Ascend in Singapore and you’ll soon be ditching a traditional candlelit water bath for a gong bath with a side of meditation any time your neverending to-do list gets to be too much.
Concept: you’re lying in an airy room strewn with mats, your eyes are closed and your mind at rest. A calming aromatic essence surrounds you and you take a deep breath, submitting yourself deeper into relaxation. Then a mallet strikes a gong producing a rhythmic pulsation that you can feel across your entire body and you’re lulled even further into a zen state. Then it happens again. And again. This, in a nutshell, is a gong bath.
Also known as a sound bath or healing bath, sound therapy has been used as a way to heal the mind, body, and soul since the days of didgeridoos some 40,000 years ago. Today it’s used to treat anything from stress, depression, trauma emotional blockage, and insomnia as well as lowering blood pressure and decreasing your pulse rate while promoting happiness and vitality (and more), and amid the hustle and bustle of Singapore, there lies House of Ascend are offering exactly this. Representing a consolidation of the best-loved offerings in holistic wellness, there you will find therapy and healing in the form of daily practices, monthly lunar rituals and live music session in a shala that connects you with the frequencies of the space and raises your vibration by using sound like a sacred tool to realign your natural frequency.
Curious to experience the power of the gong bath ourselves, we made our way down to the Chay Yan St location to take part in a special session led by director Suraya Sam herself. Afterward, we asked her a few questions so we could learn more about the practice.
GITNB: What is gong meditation and what does it actually do?
HOA: Gong meditation is beneficial in restoring the physical body’s natural frequency, as a starting point to address a host of many different ailments. There are many things we might come in contact with in our daily lives that negatively affect our natural frequency. Such factors may be subtle, and we may not even recognize how they are making us feel unsettled and uneasy, or can even make us physically sick! The basis of sound healing is the understanding that all forms of matter – including cells of our physical body, our thoughts, and emotions – vibrate at different frequencies. Factors such as stress, sickness or depression cause cells and organs within our body to vibrate at non-optimal frequencies. Since sounds come at different frequencies and we too emit our own waves, healing with sound happens by matching frequencies of different sounds to those that are necessary and conducive to healing and relaxation in the person.
GITNB: How/why did you first discover sound healing?
HOA: I have to thank my dad for loving sound therapy. He was a home audio enthusiast who loves high-quality reproduction of sound. Dad had his own HiFi technology soundproof room where he sat on his designated sofa, closed his eyes, dimmed the lights and just relaxed to the purest of sound. I remembered the speakers he had were gigantic and there were speakers that looked like test tubes where you can see the currents flowing on each note or frequency. I now know why I love sound therapy. My Dad would be so proud of me as I carry that family trait with me to House of Ascend. I miss you…
GITNB: Why is it important to you to empower individuals to have zen in their every day?
HOA: It is important to me to share how we can lead more mindful lives as I’ve noticed how easy it is, in this increasingly digital society, to be disconnected from each other and the world around us. Having a clear mind allows us to take on whatever challenges life throws at us with grace, and it also contributes to our overall physical and mental health.
GITNB: What are the little things we can do to incorporate zen every day?
HOA: You can start with a meditation practice. Start small and begin with just 5 minutes a day, and then gradually increasing over time. If you find your mind wandering, anchor yourself and your attention by observing your breath. You can also do simple grounding exercises that allows you to be more mindful of your environment. Start by noticing the little things: the shades of green in the trees, or the clouds in the sky. Getting in touch with nature has always been my go-to option of arriving at my zen place.
GITNB: Why do you think people allow themselves to get so stressed out?
HOA: Because being busy has become so normalized, and even glorified. As a society, we take pride in pushing ourselves too hard in the name of being productive and chasing our dreams. We have a misconception that we need to give it everything we’ve got, and we’ve built our identity around our careers that our self-worth hinges so much on our work ethic. Somehow we’ve tricked ourselves into believing that if we’re not constantly doing or achieving something, we’re not making valuable use of our time. But this is simply not true. We’re not built like machines. We need to have some balance in our lives and give ourselves some down time to relax and rejuvenate.
GITNB: Any other tips or tricks you use to stay grounded amongst the hustle and bustle that is Singapore?
HOA: Create a personal ritual that you commit to daily, that allows you to center yourself. I would recommend a short meditation practice, followed by a simple breath-work technique of your choice. Journaling can also be helpful in making sense of your thoughts and feelings and can help you find your way back to yourself after a hectic day.
GITNB: Tell us about your upcoming retreat and what people can expect?
Our 5-day Restore Your Vitality Retreat is a deeply transformative experience designed to heal and rejuvenate on a physical, mental and spiritual level. This retreat will delve deep into understanding and healing the self through yoga, breath-work, crystals, gong therapy, and aromatherapy. We will be learning how to balance the chakras as a starting point on how to achieve overall balance in our lives.
Restore Your Vitality will be held in conjunction with our Mystical Retreat, a 9-day program exploring the Sacred Valley of Peru. Expect lush mountain air, sacred temples, mystical historic sites, local Peruvian food, an organic wet market, Peruvian art, and of course yoga every morning, sound therapy and meditation. Login here to book.
Curious to experience a gong both yourself? Swing by House of Ascend on Mondays and Saturdays for Gong Meditation. Head here to book your spot. We also recommend giving their super enlightening blog a look here.