Creative writing submission from the Rest Less community – submit your entry here.

As it is my birthday next Wednesday, my friend bought me a shared experience as a surprise. This was the Saturday just gone at The Potting Shed (Sherborne) and was a ‘gong bath’.

I was quite excited as although I did not have direct knowledge of the experience, I did know basically what a gong bath was and quite fancied the idea.

We arrived just after six, water bottles in hand and rolled up yoga mats, and were greeted by Michelle who owns The Potting Shed. We were outside but undercover and there were five big gongs already set up, plus a table with a number of singing bowls and other sound-making tools such as wind chimes.

After briefly greeting the other three people taking part, we rolled out our yoga mats onto the grass and made ourselves comfortable so that the procedure could begin. We repeated a prayer spoken by Gandhi and focusing on our breathing, we closed our eyes and were told to imagine a pink lotus flower opening its delicate pointed petals.

It was from this moment that it appeared my experience would be somewhat different to those of the group, though I didn’t know this until we shared at the end of the session. My lotus flower was pale turquoise with gradients of colour moving up to deep mauve tips and, as we prepared to be cleansed by sound, I disappeared into my own silent movie of bizarre images.

It was amazing and utterly surreal! For about 45 minutes, as we lay there with the birds singing and cows bellowing in the background, we experienced a cacophony of low rumbling, peculiarly sonorous sounds that took over the space.

The music, if that is what it’s called, came in waves of highly complex vibrations with a succession of deep and light tones that literally engulfed us and washed through our whole bodies. Time after time, the sounds would float and eddy, almost disappearing before returning, swirling around us so that it was impossible to locate their source.

For me (not so for others), I could distinctly hear musical instruments playing; a piano, violin, and cello so at one point, I actually believed that they had put some kind of music tape on in the background, which of course they hadn’t.

Strangest of all though was the visual experience. As I said, it was like watching a silent movie, which I was acutely aware was beyond myself so I wasn’t a part of it. I was at the top of huge cliffs overlooking the sea, which was grey and churning – the waves enormous and crashing over and over again against the rocks.

In the sky, there were stylised, black swirling clouds like the Japanese depiction of clouds you see in so many of their paintings and prints. They whirled around manically, the images flickering, sputtering, and shimmering like an old 1920s movie.

Out of nowhere, I was looking down on a lone figure dressed in a white shirt and trousers, a kasa on his head and his feet unshod. Raised to his lips was a longhorn, a shakuhachi – but everything I watched was quite distinctly silent, the sounds of the gong bath not obvious or mimicking the images.

Suddenly, superimposed across the whole scene I had been watching was a row of repeated images like an infinite reflection. These were of grey donkeys, all in a row, their ears back, their eyes tightly closed, their heads raised and mouths open as if braying. Utterly bizarre! In truth, all the images were really quite dark but I wasn’t afraid, disturbed, or even touched by them because, as I said, it was like I had nothing to do with any of it.

When the gong bath was over, the two people leading the session asked people to share their experiences. Nobody else saw anything and perhaps a tad worryingly, the guy running it said that some people did report seeing images – but those images were always a part of themselves, as in, they brought out what was already inside them. Oops! I’m not sure where that leaves me, or where the donkeys come in, but on our way home Kate and I had a good laugh about what it said about me.

Adding to the evening, Kate took me to Wagamama where, to my surprise, her family and another friend were waiting for me. It was a lovely and special birthday finished off with a chocolate cake and candle, with Arthur and Ila in the garden.

On another note, after the session but before we left, as I wanted to touch the gong to feel the vibrations, the gong master told me to stand behind the biggest gong – as close as I could without touching it. Gently, he ran the covered mallet around the edge of the gong. It literally took me off my feet, propelling me backwards, the power of the sound physically moving me. It was an absolute ‘wow’ moment and one I will never forget.

Are you feeling creative? We are proud to have a hugely talented community on Rest Less, which is why we’re so excited to open up a section of the site dedicated to showcasing the wonderful and diverse writing of our members. If you have a piece of creative writing that you’d like to share with the Rest Less community – you can do so here.