A fraught journey through the mockery of trying to take the tube on a Sunday left me in full need of meditation by the time I arrived, hot and sweaty, at Alchemy, in the heart of Camden’s bustling Stables Yard Market.
Alchemy offers a huge range of classes from kundalini yoga to metatronic healing, circle for inner peace meditation and Himalayan hatha yoga, to name a few.
The gong meditation class is designed to clear the subconscious mind of negative memories and thoughts, freeing and ‘cleansing’ the mind. Chatting to another class member beforehand, she said she always leaves feeling very calm and able to rise above the petty irritations of living in this fast-paced city.
Perhaps not surprisingly, quite a few people in the class were Asian. The soul is nurtured much more in the East than here in the ego-driven West, but it’s a cultural difference we should all try to overcome – meditation has huge benefits; physically, mentally and of course, spiritually. It can also be done anywhere: I remember a Thai monk once telling me that you can meditate even when driving your car (on second thought, I’m not so sure about that one!).
Basically, gong meditation is about ‘sound healing’. The vibrations of the gong is said to raise our energy and vibrations so that we are more in tune with ourselves. The teacher, Angad Singh – every inch the guru with his flowing beard, turban and Indian robes – did say that some people feel dizzy afterwards and that we may experience intense dreams, a runny nose or even a stomach upset, which is all part of the body’s clearing process.
We began with light exercises such as moving the spine forwards and backwards, tilting the head to left and right, then chanting, hands in the prayer position. This bit was difficult as the mantra was quite long and in Gurmukhi, but apparently even if you don’t join in, you still feel the benefit. Eleven minutes of guided chanting followed – sa ta na ma, with arms crossed over the body, touching each finger in turn to the thumb with each syllable. The mantra was about birth, life, death and rebirth.
Then for the gong. We all lay on our yoga mats, heads on pillows. The gong vibration shocked me at first – it really resonated through my whole body, and my chakras were swirling around. The gong was beaten more strongly, building up the sensation in my body.
I’ve always found it hard to ‘empty my mind,’ which is what you’re supposed to do during meditation. I found that by focusing on the sound and vibration from the gong my mind did free up somewhat, allowing various thoughts and phrases to enter. I seemed to ‘get’ things – such as, ‘don’t underestimate yourself’, ‘change for the better’ and ‘wait until it’s possible’. I’ve been going through a difficult divorce and have become estranged from my teenage children, so some of this did ring true.
Angad also teaches kundalini yoga. He struck his first gong in 2007. Having followed various spiritual paths in his quest for enlightenment, he found himself drawn to the East and spent two years in India. He told me that gong meditation affects people in different ways – some see angels, others see colours and some hear sounds or words. But all enjoy a great sense of wellbeing and ‘de-cluttering.’
The meditation finished all too quickly. It seemed as though my head had been emptied out, power hosed and then everything put back – and I felt totally cleansed, energised and refreshed in a way I never have before. Less cluttered too. Even the thought of battling with the Northern Line didn’t faze my new zen mood.
The 75-minute gong meditation class at Alchemy costs £15.
Chalk Farm Road
Tel: 020 7267 6188