My Week In Happy: Soaking up the Gong Bath

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With gong practitioner Martyn Cawthorne at his home Gong Spa

It is Saturday and a rainy Manchester afternoon and, along with two friends from Manchester Bliss group, are visiting the home of Martyn Cawthorne – gong practitioner and founder of Gong Spa.

Martyn gives the three of us a warm welcome before inviting us to prepare for the ‘gong bath’ which we have all enthusiastically signed up for.

What is a gong bath?

He describes the experience as:

“A unique experience in which you are bathed (clothes on!) in the sounds and vibrations of the gongs, which lend themselves to enhanced states of well-being, relaxation, happiness and pleasure.”

I’d had one previous experience of taking part in a large gong bath in a church hall, but what Martyn has to offer is a small, safe and intimate space which could be shared by up to three people.

The space is calm and softly lit, with four impressively large gongs suspended from a frame in the room and another resting on the floor. Other instruments are scattered around the room and will form a part of the gong bath experience.

We have a quick chat with Martyn about our needs and reasons for being there, before settling down on a bed and wrapping up with blankets. He explains to us that as the gong bath experience can be both physically and mentally intense, he’s going to give us a relatively gentle time.

What happens in the gong bath?

The session is an hour long and it’s important to feel comfortable. We’re  provided us with some egg-shaped shakers should we wish to indicate that the gong sounds have become too intense (we didn’t need them).

Once relaxed on the bed, the time seemed to speed by. Martyn opens the session with some ambient gong sounds before building up the intensity and varying the soundscape with other percussion instruments.

The vibrations from the gongs were instantly relaxing and I felt the sounds resonated throughout mind and body with a calming richness.

What does it feel like?

I felt my mind begin to turn over thoughts as it prepared to relax and let go, it was then that I started to locate the sources of tension in my body.

First comes a fluttering sensation in my side, before I develop an awareness of where the tightness across my shoulders originates – this makes me mindful that I need to take care of my posture each day.

As we opened our eyes at the end of the gong bath, it soon became clear that we had all had powerful but very different experiences.

One bather was so relaxed that she fell asleep (this is apparently quite common and does not prevent the gong bath from working). Another spoke of the vivid images she’d visualised.

We all felt that the gong bath had been deeply beneficial and wished to return, either alone or with partners.

Where can I take a gong bath?

Taking a gong bath aids meditation and is great for relaxation either individually, as a couple or a group.

Gong Goodies

Gong Spa – home of everything gong including dates of gong baths in Manchester and surrounding areas

Northern School of Soundsmiths – learn to craft sounds for your enjoyment and the benefit of others

Gong Spa Experiences – tracks to relax or meditate to – available to download

My Week In Happy: home sweet home

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So, I’ve been the process of buying an apartment. I’ve not written about this on CheerUpLove.com because I wanted to surprise you!

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And I’m in! Photo with kind permissions of @ohlittlechief

Since moving up north from London I have rented somewhere, which I like very much, but I decided it was time to put down some roots and get a place to call my own.

The sale completed last week and I am very proud and grateful to have a ‘fashionable and bijou’ apartment with lots of lovely daylight to live in.

My Week In Happy: Life gets in the way (in a good way)

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IMG_1022Hello! I think this is the longest time I’ve left between blog entries  since I relaunched the Cheeruplove.com in August.

However, this does not mean I’ve been short of things to be happy about.

First up, here’s a write-up I did of the show and tell tea party hosted by Manchester Girl Geeks on Sunday 25th January.

Some great talks on everything from code-breakers to music makers, plus Katie demos her new robot…

Thing two. Thank you to everyone who kindly commented on ‘Can smart cities be kind cities’ – I have many more thoughts on this and will certainly be revisiting this theme very soon.

Thing three. I’m working hard ahead of Safer Internet Day on Tuesday 10th February. More of that next week.

Once that done I’m pledging to myself that it will be business as usual for ‘My Week In Happy’. Onwards and upwards!

My Week In Happy: Feeling grateful for good friends

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I’ve lived in a quite few cities. Childhood in Coventry, teenage years in Norwich, university in Southampton, then back to Norwich before a 10 year stint in London, before finally landing here in Manchester.

In each stage of my life I’ve made new friends and do my best to stay in touch them even if sometimes months or even years have elapsed since we were last in contact.

This week, seeing some dear friends has make me extremely happy and grateful.

Mike

I met Mike when we worked at a small offshoot of a publishing house in Norwich in the mid-nineties. He’s always made a really big effort to keep in touch no matter what’s going on in either of our lives. Mike has sharp wit which is reflected in some of the greeting cards he has created for me over the years. Take a look at this gallery.

Some of the Mike's greeting card designs. Broccoli = Brockley.

Some of the Mike’s greeting card designs.

Lynsey

I have known Lynsey since we were about 14 years old. Contact may have ebbed and flowed over the years as we moved to different cities and did different things with our lives, but when we chat (usually online and about pretty much anything) it feels like no time has passed at all.

Lynsey is working on her first novel and blogging about it – the blog itself is a work of art in my eyes.

Birthday buddies

My friend Karen shares a birthday month with me. We love to celebrate and it’s been a month full of hiding cards and collections and eating several kilos of cake.

On Friday it was Karen’s birthday, an occasion that we marked at Chaophraya, a top Thai place in Manchester. To give you a flavour of what we got up to, here’s a gallery.

Erinma

I’ve got to know Erinma over the last couple of years through mutual friends and various geeky activities. We hooked up for the #HookedOnMusic late event on Saturday night at Manchester’s Museum of Science & Industry (MOSI).

Erinma has had a long involvement with the museum, developing and delivering fantastic citizen science projects including Turing’s Sunflowers and Hooked On Music. She is also one of the most generous and kind-hearted people you could ever hope to meet.

Cosmo update

icu-twitterMy cat, Cosmo, is an old boy who’s led an amazingly good and pampered life.

He’s not been too well for the last couple of months and has lost a lot of weight since the beginning of the year.

He’s at home being cared for in the Intensive Cuddle Unit and we’re going to back to the vets on Thursday to see how he’s doing.

 

Cheer Up Love: It’s all about happiness

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flag-rectangleThe main reason why I’ve taken a break from updating this blog is that my own approach to how I feel has changed.

I’ve taken greater responsibility for my own happiness and started investing in the kinds of thoughts and behaviours that make me feel really great.

The Care Labels idea needs some proper thought before it can be moved it on. So, for the time being I’m putting it on hold and reflecting daily on this question:

Why wait for someone else to set the scene when you can you run your own show?

So, I took three weeks off work and resolved to do something new and different each day.  I set off to do exactly what I wanted to do, on most occasions this was regardless of whether any body else wanted to join me.

I went to gigs, comedy nights, dance lessons, exhibitions and ate out alone in London, Norwich and Manchester. Doing these things sometimes took some guts, but mostly I was relieved to find that it wasn’t that difficult.

More importantly, doing these things made me happy.

I spend quite a bit of time on Twitter documenting the cheering activities I get up to, and now I’d like to bring these updates to ‘Cheer Up Love’ – sharing my exploits as explore what the world has to offer me.

Now, this does not mean that I wish to go out by myself all the time. I do like going out with other people but I don’t want to miss out just because friends are busy or not into the same things.

Going out and finding things to do that make me truly happy keeps my life interesting and means that I always have something to talk about when I do catch up with friends.

And, because it doesn’t have to be all about me, I’ll be inviting some of my friends to share their stories of things that have made them happy too.

My hope is to make Cheer Up Love into a community of happiness. It’s about time this blog received the love and attention it deserves!