This section will contain content known as “The Gong & I”. My perspective of gong play with the inclusion of human process ‘awareness’ and a leaning towards some component’s of  ‘Sound Therapy’. I will update it as i write on occasion.

The content is entirely of my own writing, and therefore is my property. I include what i write, in my gong play workshops as an experiential opportunity for participants to explore.

Paul Ford 2021/2022


Human identity is like a piece of symphonic music being continuously composed in the moment”- Gudrun Aldridge (1988). 

Gudrun speaks of creating what i would define as an ‘allowance’, for the individual(s) involved in therapy to be able to become active and autonomous partners in the therapy, rather than passive recipients. Effectively ‘influencing’ their own experience and creators of their own composition. Although primarily referring to the practice of Music Therapy, I do believe in the above being possible also, of Sound Therapy. 

Music and Sound is defined and proven as a great ‘interruption’ or ‘distraction’, particularly in reference to the alleviation of physical and emotional discomfort. Sensory processing, encouraging a person or group towards different, sometimes ‘unfamiliar’ yet welcome experiences. I myself am a believer in that each individual is responsible for their own therapeutic experience. And that of my own I will attest to. True we are a valuable and, in many ways, a valuable body of support. Such as the Psychologist/Psychotherapist is, in their practice of their own skills. The onus then, would be the encouraged adoption of responsibility of the participating individual(s) towards possible ‘attainable’ therapeutic outcomes. A relationship between two persons(practitioner/client) perhaps, in an agreement to co jointly navigate the difficulties encountered as presented in the initial session. In ways, there can begin and furthered the engagement and developed interactive play, jointly and solo. Perhaps there is for the participant, an acute long-standing difficulty in the skill of expression, be it verbal or somatic. There can be a supported exploration of how the participant can, with support experiment in ‘showing up’ and being seen/ heard in safety. A practice which can be grounded in the Sound Therapy session and thus transferred into processes of ‘living’. Taking into account personal levels of agency/ availability in the time of practice. And of course, there are limitations relative to an individual’s own functionality.  

There is the ‘unseen’ yet felt component in our practice. The travelling wavelength that we receive, and thus excites us and encourages a myriad of possible individual ‘response/ re organisation’. Free from the human ‘meaning making’ process, devoid of the application of belief, personal fantasies and other interuptions to functioning. As i/ you experience the work of a practitioner, we might find ourselve’s engaged in the above. ‘Succint reminders’ of the past, thoughts upon the present or wishes of a ‘believed future’. Gongs have the capability to encourage us into processing the experience, possibly organising/ re organising who we are into a position of ‘availibility’ or ‘defensive ness’ towards therapeutic outcomes. Yet still beyond this level of awareness, we accept the sound ‘uninterrupted’ and at the deeper clinical level of function. The offer of sound, engages with us and given opportunity, with consistency perhaps, change occurs. With ourselve’s experiencing difference over time.

A component of the work we offer to consider is, “What do I/we/ you bring into the ‘therapeutic arena’?
As practitioners of Sound and Musicality, we undoubtedly/ without doubt bring ourselves into the work. Not only in the sense of physical presence and skills, but that of ‘our history(and perceived future) follows us into the therapeutic setting’.
You might ask yourself the following.
What do I believe I should be doing?
What do I believe the participants will receive and respond to/from my offer as a practitioner?
How am I organizing myself prior to the experience and within the experience?
How do I organize the experience (and the participant’s) to suit my own ‘emotional wellbeing/safety/ beliefs and needs?
How can I acknowledge and process what emerges for me as I practice my skills, what can I do and who can I take (personal supervision) my curiosity to?
Do I believe I am responsible for the participant’s growth/healing? or can I negotiate this belief and support the participants towards further responsibility and ‘doing the work’
Do I need to align with current trends/ historical beliefs associated with my model of practice? or can I comfortably exercise a freedom/ choiceful Ness of the emergence of the practice?
Questions which I believe are appropriate to explore, which can nourish my own, or your growth as a human being, let alone a practitioner.
The space between myself/ you, and my/ your instruments and the participants is a literal live ‘growing edge’ of awareness discovery. A place of not only ‘meeting oneself’, but also that of ‘meeting each other’ in a sense of authenticity.

When choosing a gong, it can be helpful infact to listen to media recordings without the use of headphones or a full range speaker. A focus upon the higher partials, and thus listening to how they develop. I like to take a pair of Marimba mallets and play the rim to excite the higher register of tones before exciting the base note and it’s successive range of sound. For the purpose of receiving a sense of to where and how the gong will offer itself in terms of tonality ‘brightness’ for example. Then you can excite the gong from its root and listen to how the lower/ mid and upper register of tones emerge wholly. Which will differ, from one series of gong to another(Symphonic/Planet/SC Earth for example, with European Tam Tams).

Infra, meaning below.
Often attributed to vibrations below the human hearing range. That which we cannot hear, yet still encourage a ‘felt sense’ experience, Very capable of enabling physiological response.
Short mallets, have become a popular request. Particulary when supplied with a suitably weighted head. Enabling a practice of merely ‘pivoting'(my definition of my own experience) the mallet gently back and forth, working with the gong’s own response.
A practice i believe very helpful in progressive playing styles. Gently exciting oscillation’s, that vibrate in that ‘just audible’ range and no further than the fundamental/ Base note frequency.
Is there a uselfulness in this practice?, yes very much so.
Ill suggest for the benefit of your own participants, and yourself(you are included, with your own meaning making process). That to excite the gong into a ‘simple harmonic motion’, that as you might if you practice ‘warming/ waking the gong'(priming). With this practice I or you can gently excite the lowest frequency, with a pianimisso(pp), playing style/ dynamic.
And to sustain that excitation, with a sense of ‘exploratory curiosity’.
I or yourself need not play ‘forte’ , we are not wishing to excite the gong into anything more than that low and slow(patience is a neccessity), ‘rumble’…
And we spend time, developing this, nurturing it, paying attention to how the gong respond’s to your play, and appropiately re- organising how we play to sustain this over some time.
This is supportive in the therapeutic setting, with reverence for the vulnerability the participant(s) offer themselve’s to us as practitioner’s.
In comparison to playing a a musical performance, where a full dynamic range of sound is anticipated. Myself and you and other’s arrive with a readyness of self, where a strong playing style can be recieved, without a detrimental affect..
So the vunerability that our participants position themselve’s with and into, is a responsibility we as Sound Practitioner’s/ Therapist’s support.
Pianimisso, soft and gentle enable a progresive ‘introduction’, you are vibrating your participant(s) and they will respond accordingly. You are communicating yourself to them, announcing yourself in a way that is nurturing, supportive and develops capacity for furthering your work.
I’m firm in my belief, that as Sound Practitioner’s and Therapist’s we parallel the responsibilities of Medical and Psychological practitioner’s.
A discipline that we practice, develop and sustain. Relative to the trust and vulnerability that those who choose our work, offer to us.
So, soft and gentle(Pianimisso), and patience. Curiosity in what might emerge, rather than attempting to offer ‘everything and anything’ that might offer ‘healing’. There is a place for ‘forte’, and it serves well, when I or you enable that.
When I or you play, we are communicating, with potential.
I have an ‘introduction’ to gong play workshop scheduled for Jan 31 2021
I use the word ‘introduction’, as this is what it will be. If you wish to take away with you, ways of exciting a gong and developing a sense of personal capacity. This is an opportunity for yourself to participate.
Gong play, particulary within the practice of Sound Therapy. Is a skill that isnt learn’t and completed in a day/weekend or couple of weeks. All training school’s require commitment, not only to the training but to yourself. I offer no difference here, respectfully to the community i figure in. And to yourself, respectfully to you.

A behaviour i have adopted in recent times, is that of using gongs i wouldn’t usually purchase. Specifically gongs that i dont resonate with, for a number of reasons. You or I would normally adopt a gong we ‘like the sound of’, it might evoke something personal for myself or yourself. I might usually select a gong for it’s timbre/ frequency content.
You could anticipate a deal of difficulty spending $7000 on a gong you dont like the sound of couldnt you!. Imagine it arriving and you hang it and it’s just not you…
Ive owned and used a lot of gongs over the years, and i have for the most purchased them because i liked the sound. I now position myself differently, with a belief that this experience isnt about myself and satisfying myself. Moreso with the belief that gongs i dont appreciate as pleasing to my ears, somehow and eventually will support another persons therapeutic experience.
The Paiste Bronze gongs are the starting point of this ‘experiment’. I took ownership of seven gongs, which all present as very beautiful, however a number of them are very eclectic and specialised in their sound. I wouldn’t of brought them individually, but as a set they support each other.
Am i experiencing an ‘existential crisis’?, in ways yes, regarding the meaning and identity associated with my work. I ask myself why ive brought gongs i like the sound of, when my work is facilitating a therapeutic experience for others. For it makes sense, to truly use gongs that others will/might find alignment with. My own therapeutic work, my ‘area of potential growth’ is enabled through awareness of choice in life. Behaving with difference, a recalibration of how i am, and who. You could suggest that as Sound Therapist’s/practitioner’s that we ‘heal’ ourselves, as we offer ourselves to our participant’s, that might be a truth.
My interest is not in playing gongs to satisfy myself, and therefore my choice now, is of arriving with gongs that don’t excite me, but knowing they are capable of encouraging a therapeutic experience for yourself and others.

I see a ‘therapeutic space’, distinctly separate(yet connected), from the environment we as gong practitioners do our best to facilitate for others. There is the arena of our own work, between myself/ yourself and the instrument(s) I or we choose to experience. I can ask myself, or yourself(be you the practitioner), of the meaning here that I or you apply. How am I organising myself with my beliefs and accordingly to the community and the greater field, that I co exist in with you?. This is my interest in the field of Sound therapy, it might not be yours. However I have a belief that we all as individuals, wish to connect as who we are, and can become , rather than seeming to be who we are not.
In our authenticity, this I could say emerges a line of communication, with ‘potential’, as I have spoken before of.

And so, to understand and acknowledge Sound as ‘communication’. What are you communicating?, and as your participants are always listening and feeling; you ‘literally’ can only imagine their response to You.

Are you playing from a position of connectivity or protection(protective functioning).
This is a question I could ask myself or yourself, as we engage in our gong play. Psychological theory states that we are wired for connectivity, biologically. Our first known sense of functioning, and there on our primary. From birth this is true, and over time as we experience the world, and other people. Our sense of self, at the boundaries that exist between our environment and others, is known to develop into a ‘protect over connect’ model of behaving. For Many it becomes the only function, for survival and emotional safety.
Owing to unhelpful and un supportive relational experiences.
The greatest musical hits, the songs we remember and align with, emerge from what we could call the ‘broken heart’/ ‘betrayal’ and ‘destructive’ lived experience of the songwriter.
Then as Therapist’s/ Healers/ Practitioners of Sound, it is possible we too, offer ourselves from our ‘lived experience’.
Without awareness of..
Playing from unattended emotional wounds.
As practitioners, healers(whomever you label yourself as), we, inc myself, can communicate we play from our hearts, with an unconditional, unbiased, egoic free state of being.
We do our best, to support our participants, who attend with their own emotionality and lived experience. We offer ourselves as best as we can, with our agency, to support not only the possible emergence of trauma for our participants in or after session, , but that of our own lived trauma, which, can not just emerge, but have already directed the session completely.
I ask you, “how do you organise yourself prior and during your work?”. “What are you trying to do?”.
We begin in our works, our movements, with beliefs and introjects of ‘I should be’/ ‘need to be’/ ‘better had’/ ‘will or will not’ and there on..
Who and what are you protecting yourself from?….
And what about you?, where are you?…with the instruments or locked into a fantasy role?..
We can position ourselves in our safe, rigid and inflexible boundaries that offer a paradoxical sense of safety/ security and sense of belonging..we all want to belong don’t we?.

How myself, yourself or others ‘organise’ ourselve’s as we commit to our gong play, is a primary interest for myself. What do i mean by ‘organise’, and how is this relevant to gong play??.
I refer to the pyschological perspective, of behavioural process. Of an individual and of groups. ‘Actively’ involving themselve’s within the therapeutic application of sound.
I practice an awareness developing ‘tutoring’, with a focus on encouraging process awareness, in a sense ‘bringing the unconcious(out of awareness), into the concious( aware of/ known). Paying attention to how we behave, paying attention to how we play the gong. With reverence to the meaning i/ you or others apply to how we behave in our ‘therapeutic efforts’ and ‘alliance’s’ with each other.
How we approach, maintain or minimise ourselves’, our presence and commitment to gong play.
Becoming ‘Trauma informed’, not only for participants, but practitioners equally, is a worthwhile personal investment. Infact i would suggest as being neccessary.
I’ve been known to ask ‘where are you in the room?’, or “How present are you with your gong?”.
Interuptions to contact and your presence in the room, can be a belief about an individual in the group, or the group ‘wholly’ as you present your gong play. A belief about yourself is equally figural in how you ‘show up’. Cognitive triggers that encourage you or I to in a sense interupt or encourage how we play.
I mentioned the relevence of becoming trauma informed earlier, for the practioner(you and i), and so for your participants.
How you or I approach and engage with our gongs, can be attributed to our historical past. “When the past become’s present’, how we organise ourselves, out of our own awareness to support becoming ‘fully alive’ in the venue or encouraging ‘withdrawl’. Here I can intervene with observations, and empathic interactions, I can follow or lead.
So you and i, can explore how we play, what we are doing, not only in the sense of technique and facilitation. But to who we are in the moment, and how who we are, is organising the event.
Unusual, yet important questions to explore. Indeed where am i, or where are you as you begin your movement forward.
Consider how you might experience, for example that as you play your gong, that the gong’s sound become muted without suggestion, by the application of a mallet to the centre, by another person.
Then to pay attention to your own response, how you then organise yourself.
Interuptions and their affect, do indeed organise our presence, and sense of self as we meet our gongs.
When we are fully present, and comfortable in our skin. Then we can expressively deliver our own ‘rhythmicity’.
We show up in our authenticity, whoever we are in our own emotionality. We are definitely present with our instruments, and not tending to the interuptions that emerge.

‘Check in’ with your own therapeutic gong play. Do you feel you could benefit from the observation and suggestion of another person?.
We all have our own way of making contact with our instruments. Nobody else can replicate you, nor encourage you to emulate another implicitly.
Gong play tuition is available Metro wide.
Lets look at your process, your beliefs, and what encourages or diminishes your presence with your gong(s)
How you approach therapy, being yourself rather than seeming to be.
Excite, sustain, dampen, mute. Fortissimo or pianimissio?..
Playing with difference, encourages difference.

Myself and you are members of numerous groups simultaneously.
Gender, class, race, ethnicity and capable ability.
In the therapeutic setting, particulary in the application of sound as a therapy we can acknowledge this for ourselves.
As we commit towards developing our gong play style, presence and overall practice.
Psychologically I or you apply different meanings to practice and inclusion in the work.
We are emotional organism’s and so we are continually responding to events, the environment and others. In our own relational style.
How each of us, including myself steps forward to the gong and excites it, is expresssed with personal meaning, beliefs, ability and desired outcomes.
Individual ‘expressivity’, our own unique ‘aesthetically grounded’ behaviour demonstrates who I or you are.
How we creatively draw upon frameworks for behaving.
With an awareness of ourselve’s , how we do and what, rather than why, then we can nurture a felt sense of ‘self’.
The foundation for referring to in our own emergent process of gong play. We can choose to, or not to rather than act out of un-awareness with a belief based behaviour.
What is the ground for how we play, and the outcome?.
In developing personal presence, I or you can offer ourselves from our own excitement. Paying attention to ourselves rather than the needs of the environment or other people.

Following our curiosity, towards others and towards ourselves…
As myself or you, commit to ‘gong play’, however you or I experience and create meaning to our interactions. An element I do focus upon is that of ‘paying attention’.
If I am tutoring, my attention might fall upon the technique of contact, levels of personal commitment, even the humour that a Student brings into the experience.
I have spoken before about the connection of and importance of ‘body process’ within gong play. How a practitioner, of any level of experience, might present ‘physically’. Walk into a room populated with people and you will observe a difference in posture, stance and overall ‘presence’.
Into any environment, occasion or event, myself and you, a student or participant in a sound Bath, bring our process(s).
Some with an awareness of how we behave, others unaware. We are human, we respond in ways, learnt from our history of living, might I suggest ‘habitual’..
You have probably heard the phrase “it’s who I am/ just how I am!”…
Physical presence is observed and utilised as a means of ascertaining emotional character. Anxiety can be physically communicated, as can joy or surprise.
Where is this conversation heading?, to the belief that taking an interest in who I or you work with, yields progressive support for the person, or group of.
“I notice you distance yourself and the gongs, and with some effort, I’m interested in your position here….”
A newbie to gong play, or a participant in mine or your event, is likely to experience anxiety, relative to beliefs. And as I understand anxiety as a normal human response to an event, then I suggest then to work creatively with support to ‘soften’ the anxiety, by working with the person, rather than ‘it’. As you might with trauma(taking into account the available levels of personal ‘agency’).
I have recently facilitated the opportunity, for the participant(s) of my events, to ‘show up’ during the experience, encouragement to halt the experience and support a person in their own physical/emotional or cognitive emergent awareness.
I have a belief that to work creatively with the presenting emotion, with support, then we can, and you can facilitate a different experience. And so empower personal presence, and commitment.
As a tutor I can encourage you to make contact with your mallets in different ways, I can support you to fine tune levels of exciting and dampening your gong(s).
I’m also very capable of encouraging you to pay attention to how you do that, and more so how you could offer yourself with greater presence.
Behaving with a difference, paying attention to yourself.

Participants of a gong sound experience/ gong bath/ sound healing arrive I believe with needs, some have a sense of what they will appreciate, others have less of an awareness. Some people request definite expectations, which I acknowledge. People arrive at the door, with their history, the affects of their relational field, the environment and fantasies of the future anticipated.
The therapeutic setting then, is more than the opportunity to ‘lie down’ and experience relaxation.
My observations, over time and ‘check in’s’ with participating individual’s has encouraged me to appreciate the inter relatedness of living[life].
Change is always occurring, and available to persons who have the agency to embrace and participate in different ways of behaving in their world.
As a gong player, a therapist, I facilitate like yourself and others in the therapeutic field, the opportunity for an individual or group of, the experience of personal awareness. The ‘felt sense’ of who we are as an organism, the human we are.
Truly I believe we are not just offering a ‘chance’ to relax, or forget about the week we have lived. More-so, the opportunity with professional support to know who we are, who you are. As therapist’s we create an environment that can nurture personal awareness, not only for participants.
For ourselves, as the facilitator of the ‘sound session’, we experience ourselves in our emotionality, our cognitive processing, and ourselves as physical body.
As you connect with your instruments, pay attention to your thoughts. I hear reports of lack of belief in self, thoughts of not doing the right thing, thoughts of concern for participating persons.
“Am I playing too loud, or too softly?”…”He is moving about a lot, what is wrong?”.
These are not projections of mine, they have been and occasionally are my experience. Im human and naturally I demonstrate a level of responsibility and care.
Also though my process demonstrates with clarity, behaviour grounded in my historical past.
How can we support individuals who experience their emotionality, physical phenomena and ‘those’ thoughts that emerged and dominated the experience?.
We can take a genuine interest in their experience, prior to the experience and during, if required.
I offer each person, the freedom to follow their interest. If they experience themselves and their emotionality become the foreground of the experience, then lets work with what is emerging. If we are in a group setting, could the other participants offer themselves to another person, supportively to sit with the primary experience?.
How does that sit with you, as you read this?
Traditionally a gong bath runs uninterrupted, people arrive , lie down and leave …
Could you imagine group process figuring in your sound session?. The opportunity for a person to request physical and emotional support, if they could ask for that need to be tended to.
I spoke earlier of change always occurring, how do you believe your work as a therapist developing as you mature into life?. People will come to you for support, people will tell you that you played in a way that affected them. You will experience the people who visit you, requesting support from you.
Aligning your work with the cosmos via selected planetary tunings, and the natural elements is only the primer towards attending to those who choose to attend to your work.
My difference with other therapists, which I’m comfortable in expressing is that, by solely working from a grounding of philosophised tunings and colours/ elements and so so. As a therapist, I or yourself cannot fully attend ‘wholly’[Holistically].
People arrive at your event, with their history, and at times during your event, people will experience themselves in ways which are relational to who they are and have been.
We facilitate an opportunity for a person to experience themselves, I or you might not have that at the forefront of our intentions, the work we engage into, affects the physical and emotional components of the human organism!.
Becoming response-able, a capability to support those who we meet, is latent in all of us who work therapeutically. Attending to your people, is a responsibility, I imagine that element is at the forefront of how you offer yourselves. People will hold you in high regard, and equally in return we do so towards them.
What do you need, and what do your people need from you?.

Mindfulness of ‘present self’, how I or yourself feel or think.
There is a difference between ‘belief’ and ‘knowledge’. Both have an affect on the way you or I offer ourselves with our gongs and percussive elements.
The physical space we position ourselves in, tuned relative to what we carry into, or nuture as we play.
Consider our environment tuned not only by physical structure, contemplated intervals of instrument, or the others in attendence.
But that of your own belief, of yourself or others. Your thoughts that emerge during your presentation.
Paying attention to yourself, how you offer yourself. How you play relative to the belief, or your emotionality.
Are you being or seeming to be?.
Who is playing the instruments, yourself or your fantasies?.
As a resonator tube offers definition of sound, so paying attention to yourself can equally.
Allowing yourself to be guided by a belief you cannot validate as truth.
Where in your body are you playing from?..
Projective processes, what we believe of others and of the environment.
Nuturing responsibility for who we are, as we are.
Automated, ‘robotic’ movements. Physical posture, mallet stroke sequences. Learnt compositions are easily maintained, with the consequence of losing your own identity, and natural presence and inclusion.

With reference to the space between myself, yourself and our gongs. The physical ‘felt sense’, the spiritual, cognitive ‘thoughtful believed’ and theoretical applied elements.
In the indonesian(Balinese) Gamelan orchestra’s, traditionally no two or more gamelans are tuned exactly alike.
The same applies to ourselves as human beings, we offer our own difference.
Contact with our instruments offers us recreation, a means of personal organisation, and the availability for reconfiguration.
How we can apply/ offer ourselves in the musical setting.
Paying attention to our position, who we are as we connect, and as our gong play develops.
An awareness of our physical ‘felt sense’, and our thoughtful ‘focus’.
The gong is authentic in its own position of offering true neutrality.
“As Natural as the gong”-Veerayuth Ponsiri
I, or yourself offer ourselves very differently.
With mindfulness of ourselves, relative to our gong play, we are offered a sense of ‘being and becoming’.
Musical intervals are often referred to as ‘sweetened’, we have the capability to sweeten our own sense of self, and our gong play. Acknowledging our background processes, how we feel and thus offering ourselves alike the gong(s) ‘authentically’.
In doing so, we offer greater presence and inclusion in our work.

Between a person and a gong, is a space. We can visually perceive the physical distance, and as well have a sense of other related elements that occur.
Paying attention to the space, and the phenomena that emerges can offer a rich and growth orientated experience.
There is also the space between one gong practitioner and another, which can be filled with a myriad of emotional and cognitive activity. Leading to a sense of connectedness or disconnection.
Into the musical and therapeutic setting, we bring personal meaning and belief. As humans we strive to attribute meaning to all our behaviours, there is always ground for what we practice and how we live. If we cannot develop meaning, then experiences of frustration, sadness and dissonance can become evident.
It is Important to acknowledge, that what a person demonstrates, indeed involves great meaning on a personal level. And therefore from an empathetic perspective, you might not find alignment with a person’s practice, but understand why they choose to and offer your curiosity to what and how they do..
When a person, a student takes to hand a mallet and moves forward to the instrument. The student demonstrates ‘live’, their personal process of relating. “I offer myself to the gong in this manner because I believe that I….”
The belief we ground our movements in, being out of our immediate awareness. Until that is we ‘check in’ with the live data, the emotion, cognitions(thoughts) and bodily processes that emerge..
We can offer ourselves greater regard, and develop a greater agency for a more meaningful style of gong play. By offering ourselves the opportunity to get to know who we are, as we experience ourselves.
What is important, is the phenomena that distracts us from our play. The distraction could be a belief that triggers a person to withdraw, or doubt a capable ability. Or spontaneously offer an improvised presence. That then is the gateway, the open door where the exploration could begin.
There are ways to explore the space, to identify and develop a ‘felt sense’ of who we are, how we are….

I encourage, paying attention to what is occurring in the present moment. The ‘here and now’ live data, also referred to as ‘raw data’. Previously I have suggested to how you as a gong player, in whatever context, do pay attention to what you bring with you into your space. My meaning here being, relative to emotions and cognitions.
Here there is a natural progression, we can ‘segway’ into how the gong and it’s delivery of sound can affect you. Whenever we meet something animated or inanimate, or somebody, there exists a boundary, unseen but as definitive as a physical counterpart. At the boundary is where we choose to meet the world, accept or refuse. At the boundary is where we encounter others, and the gongs we play. Contact occurs at varying levels.
Boundaries are fluidic and flexible, and so they can be rigid and inflexible, for reasoning we place affirmative meaning towards.
As functioning human beings, we ground ourselves in ‘learnt’ schematics, operating systems that we creatively import into living. As life is truly experiential, we discriminate and adapt accordingly, and with great creativity sometimes.
When we play and become contactful with our instruments of choice, our personal process demonstrates itself to the observant, and often out of the awareness of the observed.
Observe a venue filled with individuals, learning new skills under supervision, each person will present and offer themselves uniquely initially. Personal process, the learnt schema, figures in the interactions that occur in the training venue.
Here there is no definitive mistaken, or correct approach. Personal difference, grounded in the persons history is live and emerging.
A person has the capability and choice, in modifying the boundary between themselves and their instrument. We have the choice, in responding to the gongs response and it’s offer towards us.
The gongs may affect us in numerous ways, profoundly at times and equally in subtle measure.
How you allow the gong(s) to affect you is a primary interest of mine, you might for example make yourself available and open to emotional awareness. You could choose to disrupt the contact, pushing the boundary away with your cognitions, in an attempt to minimise the experience.
Feeling safe to experience the emotions that emerge, paying attention to what is at the forefront of the experience. Of being able to support yourself, at your level, to experience yourself emotionally, and cognitively via exploration.
Within our relations with other people, wounds occur at the boundary, our encounters with people and our environment. Abusive, bully-ish behaviour is an example. Boundary violations might be forgiven, but not forgotten, held in our cellular self, and we hard wire ourselves biologically in the brain accordingly.
Everybody brings their history into the arena, musician or therapist, we carry into the therapeutic space or studio, what we will to the dinner table…
Personal process I suggest, cannot be put to one side. At best we can bracket our cognitions(for future processing), but psychological process runs alike the Swiss watch, without fault and for the majority, out of our present moment awareness.
I would suggest, becoming attentive to your playing style, attentive to cognitions/ thoughts that emerge as you play. What fantasies become colourful for you?, and what do you believe you are doing, or believe you should be doing?.
Journal your gong play experience, a hard copy of emotions, thoughts and body process observations.
I appreciate diversity, and difference. How we as individuals choose(or do not choose), to present ourselves and offer our ‘presence’.
As I connect with the gongs and become contactful, I believe i do so by drawing upon my inspirations and own subjective ideologies. I ‘show up’ with the attitude of ‘to my best ability’ in that moment. Maintaining a sense of self, ‘self’ pertaining to the process of contactfulness with the gongs, the environment and those in attendance.
I am who I am, and with my availability for choicefulness in my style of connection and play. Aspects of myself which become foreground in my experience could be for example, the ‘journeyman’, the ‘playful child’, the risk taking ‘experimentalist’, the ‘rebel’ or the ‘therapist’..
I place emphasis on my position and presence, rather than that of those in attendance, regardless.
Whether the experience be a therapeutic group session, or a more entertaining public performance. If I maintain my attention as I describe, then my experience is that I reduce or eliminate the ‘projective’ processes. That of focusing personal energy upon thoughts of the audience’s perceptions, or of the position of those who lie prone in a gong bath.
If I am projecting my curiousity, concerns, even fear ‘outwardly’, then truly I do not believe I am fully present for myself. If I have moved the contact boundary away, with my focus upon the others/ other. I ask, can I be fully inclusive with my movements with the gongs, am I really as connected as I believe?.
I do not believe so.
Cultural and societal ‘introjects’(should’s and should not’s), have shaped the way we focus upon ourselves, and relate globally. Moreso within the industry built around holistic therapies.
If you seek ‘impeccability’, ‘professionalism’, even ‘mastery’, then I propose those possibilities begin with the focus and enquiry into yourself. And then you could later consider your affect upon others.
Your ‘here and now’ live data, the emotional, cognitive, physical and biological processes.
Present moment feelings
Posture of body
Your hardwired capacities, response and behaviour.
When I position myself with the gongs, I do so with an awareness that i bring with me a bundle of experiential ‘drivers’ to speak of.
I would suggest we all do, in all our movements in life.
Influencing how I connect and play
The emphasis of my presentation
What I should or should not be doing, beliefs and values.
My recommendation, to take a short interval and ask yourself to what is at the forefront of your movement, how are you engaged in his moment?.

“And with my belief of myself, I offer to mankind only a portion of which I’m capable of sharing with you, but am I the person who I believe to be”
As I experience periods of contact, with my gongs, I often discover the awareness of wondering who I am in the present moment. “Who indeed am I?”, as I hold the mallet in my hand, and what can I truly offer in my presentation of sound?.
The difficulty that emerges is that, according to esoteric practice, I am supposed to be offering myself selflessly, devout of the egoic function. Giving myself freely, for the benefit of those in attendance. What is the difficulty?, you might enquire, how can I not attend to others in favour of myself primarily?.
My core beliefs, my introjective tendencies and my own measure of worthiness and satisfaction which figure amongst other contributing factors of ‘personal process’.
There is the encouragement to ‘present’ from the heart, compassionately towards others. Trusting the ‘intuitive messenger’ that guides the delivery of sound. And so I meet my gongs, at the boundary, albeit a boundary that I can position accordingly to my present emotional experience.
If at my core, I believe I have little to offer, or I have to offer something more than, then will my offer of sound truly be authentic?. To the observant, process demonstrates itself and for the observed, then process can remain unknown. Involving myself in self enquiry, introspectively I can experience myself, as I could become.
Here I wish to offer that I am not suggesting that if i do not take into account personal process as i commit to my passion, I am unprofessional or inept. But that if i do, then i can enable a difference in my presentations of sound. With an awareness of where i draw my motivation from, or what experience is driving me. Then I can if i am available, experiment in alternate method and practice.
We all have our own individual ways of attending to how we create meaning in our practice, influenced wholly by our field of experience, historical/ present and assumed future.
As we initiate contact with our instruments, the gongs and other percussion, at the forefront of our experience is our intention. Personal process is background, and shaping my presentation. Body process, my posture and pose, emotionally and biologically networked towards composition. How do i stand, and meet my instruments, I might present with rigidness or alternatively with fluidic presence.
My suggestion is, that as you do meet and become contactful with your instruments of choice, that you might check in with yourself and ask yourself “who am I in this moment and what am I bringing with me?”. In the moments of silence, consider the affect of your music upon yourself, and your response.

Thus we begin our negotiation, a bartering if I might suggest between practitioner and their gong. A flexible and impermanent experience, existential attunement to their instrument of choice, the experience of connection and disconnection; containment and withdrawal into the void. So, the practitioner in their experience of stimulation, or I offer the phrase ‘psychic excitement’, they initiate the task of contact. With an approach towards the gong, the crystalline membrane we perceive as a solid. And so dialogue begins, with if possible no agenda, yet agency and willingness to nurture the emergence of the gong ‘wholly’, with foundations in the fundamental ground it was crafted. From the practitioner, there can if encouraged, become a commitment towards the exploration and mapping of frequency. The practitioner presents themselves, with their own ‘felt’ sense of emotionality, held in consideration, with awareness of how emotion drives the individual towards their meaning of satisfaction. Our own responsiveness and that of the gong, possessing similar behavior. We engage and elicit the response and pause, and so we can become choiceful of our own presence, and sense of in the presence of our gong(s). A practitioner can become mindful, and aware of what is occurring for themselves, be it of past historical, interpretated present or assumed future affect. For as humans we have a predictable and fixed system of characterizing ourselves, as we have with our instrument of choice. Which appearing infinite in its presentation of sound frequency, is also equally predictable and mirrors our own ‘psyche’. As we meet at the ‘unseen boundary’, we gain a sense of who we are not, yet offered the experience of who we could become. How we navigate to and from, in fluidic and rigid processes. What occurs within our moments of contact, and of how we might re-apply towards the gong with our mallets of choice, is demonstrative of self within a relational field of sound vibration.