News and Views from The Chiron
Frequently Asked Questions -
Do I need to bring a towel?
No, a towel is not required. You will be bathed, but only in the frequency and vibration of gongs, bowls, drums and chimes. The sensation can be described as being immersed in the sound waves, which is why it`s generally a gong bath.
Do I need to be experienced in meditation to attend?
Absolutely not. The symphony of sound created by a wide variety of scared sound instruments, for most people, quickly and easily stills the busyness of the mind and takes them into a state of deep relaxation without any effort. It is suitable for both absolute novices and experienced meditators.
I`ve never done this before, how will I know what to do?
Each session usually has a mixture of new guests and regulars. For those who`ve never been before we will cover everything you need to know in a brief `house-keeping` talk before we start. We will tell you what is going to happen during the session and at the end of the session we will make sure you are grounded - there is no need to worry, you`ll be grounded all the way.
What should I wear?
No special clothes required. Everyday clothes are absolutely suitable, think `comfort` and you`ll be fine.
What should I bring with me?
At The Chiron, we want you to be really comfortable so we`ve taken care of everything. Mats to lie on, pillows and warm blankets (but some people like to bring their favourites with them) are provided for your comfort. For those who are less mobile and would find it a challenge to lie on the floor we have a limited number of reclining chairs which may be booked in advance.
Do I need to book in advance?
At the moment, most sessions are `drop in` with a couple of exceptions. Although it is really helpful for us to know if you will be joining us , to enable us to set out the room appropriately. A lot of our guests do message us in advance to reserve a mat, although it is essential know if you need a recliner.
Which session would be best for me?
We have created a wide selection of Healing Sound sessions which would appeal to those who are looking for simple relaxation through to those who are seeking a much deeper spiritual experience. Check the `Sound Timetable` page (https://www.chironuk.com/sound-timetable.html) which will tell you which sessions are available each day and give you description (scroll down) of the content, there is also a star system for easy reference. We would generally advise you go for whichever sesion you are drawn to.
I have a health condition, does that mean I can`t come?
There are certain pre-existing medical conditions for which we would give specific advice. As far as know there is no medical condition which would exclude you from attending, however there are some conditions which require consideration.
I might be late arriving, is that a problem?
Our policy, is to close the doors promptly at the start time (doors open 30 minutes before). This is to ensure the security of the building and to honour the time schedules of people who attend.
Can I bring my child?
For normal sessions we have a lower age limit of 14 years old, this is to ensure that our other guests and yourself can totally relax without disturbance. We know that younger children can sometimes find some of the sounds unsettling, and an hour is long time for them to remain settled if this proves to be the case. We do schedule a specific shorter session for parents and children to attend together, these usually happen during school holidays and you`ll find them under the name of `Young Hearts, Old Hearts` for children who have expressed an interest in attending. These sessions are also a manageable way to gauge your child`s response to the sounds. Sometimes, children really love it and are fine to attend the longer sessions by arrangement.
There’s no doubt about it, Soundwork is enjoying a huge rise in popularity. You can easily find Yo-Go (Yoga/Gong), Shamanic Sound Journeys, Sound coupled with Breathwork, with various Plant Medicines & Light Machines happening in venues all around the country at all times of the day & night.
We, at the Chiron, are all for ‘customer choice’ & acknowledge that each practitioner will, quite rightly, wish to bring the power of sound into their work as a unique expression of who they are as a reflection of their journey. For members of the general public who fancy dipping their toe into the pond of ‘Healing Sound’, all this vast and varied choice can be confusing and can lead people into a state of overwhelm - with so much to choose from, how do you decide what to try? We can certainly see why this is creating a problem - there is only so much spare time & cash to go around! So, in the name of clarity & to help you to make sense of what we do here at the Chiron in Stoke, this is an idea of our relationship with Healing Sound.
We have created The Chiron in the most outrageously beautiful listed building, the Old Library, in the centre of Stoke town. The ‘Gong Chamber’ itself is quite spectacular and big enough to house our collection of 57 Gongs from all over the world. Add to that our very special collection of Himalayan Singing Bowls, Chakra Crystal Bowls, a large Gathering (or Pow Wow) Drum, Shamanic Drums, Bells, Chimes, Rattles from across the Globe & an amazing collection of unusual & rare sound instruments - believe us when we say that you’re unlikely to see or experience anything quite like it anywhere else. The room also has two ley lines which cross in the centre of the room which bring a high vibrational energy to the space and we’ve magnified that by placing a huge copper pyramid, topped with a beautiful clear quartz crystal at the apex, suspended above it. This is all part of our commitment to creating the cleanest, clearest energy in which you can open up to receive the symphony of healing sounds - it certainly is an tangibally safe space & people notice the difference as soon as they walk in.
It’s because we have personal experience of the transformational nature of Healing Sounds that we feel compelled to share what we’ve learned with as many people as possible. That’s why we have made a huge investment in time & resources to create this place as an oasis of calm amid the busyness & madness of everyday life, a place to leave your burdens at the door & surrender to the stillness & beauty of Sounds knowing that they have the power to take you beyond time & space as you enter the realm of energetic possibilities, a place where you can access your own healing capacity. It is a place of magic & miracles.
We understand the attraction of adding more & more into the mix in an attempt to deepen the experience, but in truth, we believe that Sacred Sound coupled with a strong & clear intention is the way to go & that we need seek nothing else We’ve made the choice not to allow ourselves to become distracted by the constant search for bigger, better or higher experiences, but prefer to deepen our relationship with Source & with Sound. Scientists & Quantum Physics theory support the idea that frequency & vibration are the originators of creation - from that perspective, what more do we need? We are dedicated to simply being present, alongside you, as together we journey within to discover our innate wholeness & tap into the healing potential it holds using only sound, frequency, vibration & energy as our Quantum Tools. It’s simple, it’s human & it’s Divine.
When you come to join us, be prepared to be utterly yourself, whatever that means at this point in time & be curious to receive exactly what the wisdom of your higher self knows is perfect for you in that moment. We can never precisely say what your experience will be because for each person sharing Sacred Sound in one of our sessions, it will be a unique journey, although beautiful & deeply moving to behold.
Writing our own story in the universe of sound.
So, there are sound therapists, sound healers, sound practitioners, sound alchemists and a whole host of other sound workers. Across the world, people working with sound have that very human need to label themselves, to belong to a tribe. Together, they offer people relaxation, sound healing, soundscapes, journeys, meditation, sacred sounds and just plain sound to listen too and become immersed in.
We have been working with sound for quite a long time now and since moving into our centre at The Chiron, in Stoke, two years ago we have completed over a thousand sound sessions and that means we`ve gonged somewhere in the region of six thousand participants, that`s an average of more than one session a day! It would be easy and very tempting to try to label what we do and who we are. In fact we still call our sessions `gong baths` because that`s an easy term to use and one that`s beginning to be more widely recognised. However, our sessions have gradually been evolving over time to more fully represent our relationship with the power and potential of sound. However, this makes it even more difficult to categorise ourselves. Whilst we still offer entry level group work purely for relaxation through sound, at the other end of the spectrum our deep themed guided journeys open up a whole new level of possibilities as they take people into inner landscapes of infinite space and beauty. We find that these are the places where an even greater depth of healing in mind, body and spirit can often occur. Each journey has a different focus reflecting our beliefs about the universe and spirituality and to create a deeply healing metaphorical story the subconscious can, and does, work with.
This has thrown up a `categorisation` problem for us, in that every individual who joins us has a unique experience on these journeys, no one session is the same and the experience is for every person each time someone comes reflecting the way sound honours the individual and meets us where we stand. That`s amazing, but it does present us with a problem, it makes it all but impossible to find the vocabulary to explain what people might experience and we certainly don`t want to limit their experience by confining it with a tight description. Words are sound tools too in the same way as the instruments we use so we are constantly trying to use them carefully . Each session starts with a longer or shorter meditation using words in a particular way to prepare for the other sounds. These guided journeys are unique to us and our way of working.
Our collection of instruments and our space are fabulous and powerful, but that`s not all we wish to be defined by. Ego cries out that we have brought together one of the largest and most varied group of sound tools in the world and we are not aware of anywhere in the world with a dedicated space quite like ours. However, it really is the people who matter to us the most, and the wonderfully varied community which is building around us. The anecdotes of spontaneous healing and change are incredible. The experiences people have on a daily basis are amazing and mind-blowing. Just like our guests, the sound vibrations weave their magic for us too and our way of working is also expanding and forging a new path which is exciting, vibrant and dynamic; and this is a much truer demonstration of the power and potential of sound than any `elevator pitch` could ever communicate.
By not labeling ourselves too tightly and by remaining independent of local and global tribes we can remain free to continue developing in ourselves and our work. Our authenticity and commitment to our own beliefs remain more important than fitting into a preformed mold . Helping and supporting people to develop themselves as we develop ourselves on our journey is more important than holding a title on a pedestal and as the saying goes `we are just walking each other home`, for which we are creating a new sound track. At the Chiron, we are writing our own story in the universe of sound, and just like for all of us this is just the beginning of a new chapter.
We would like you to meet Lenny, the newest member of our team. Lenny is assisting us in creating `binaural`, or BN, recordings and live streaming of sound sessions from The Chiron. He is very shy and doesn`t say a lot, but is a good listener.
We all know that there is nothing like being in the physical presence of the gongs when experiencing a Sound Immersion or Gong Bath. However, BN sound allows you to surrender to a very immersive experience.
The literal translation of the word "binaural" means ‘of, relating to, or used with both ears’. There is a lot of confusion with `stereo` sound and with `binaural beats`. We will be working with binaural beats, and look for this too in future recordings.
Conventional stereo recordings do not factor in natural ear spacing or "head shadow" of the head and ears, which are things happening naturally as a person listens. BN recording recreates the way sound flows over the face and to each ear in turn. When played back through headphones, the listener experiences sound with 3D depth, distance and position of the sounds. We are also working in linear time, so this is true 4D sound. With your eyes closed, it`s difficult not to believe you are actually there!
There are various levels of BN recording, but to be true 3D sound a full mannequin head is required with the microphones deep within anatomically correct ears. Anything else is `pseudo binaural`. We have invested in the best, in order to give you the most awesome experiences. Look out for the `BN` mark on our future CDs and also on the live-streaming. We expect the first live event to be on Saturday 9th September with CDs out later in the year.
A short example of our BN sound can be found here - remember to use headphones and keep your eyes closed.
`Keep calm and carry gong`
Gong Puja for PeaceThe next big event is coming up on Saturday 23rd September & really is a date to set into your diary. We’re hosing our 4th annual ‘Gong Puja for Peace’ & those wh’ve joined us before, have been eagerly awaiting the date & are already snapping up their places, it’s truly one not to be missed.
Although, as always, we have no particular religious affiliation, in the Hindu tradition, worshipers bond with the divine through the puja. The purpose of the Puja event is to create an atmosphere in which humans and spiritual beings, (including our own higher or divine self,) can enjoy communion with one another & a puja serves to bring the former and the latter together on an energetic level. Being part of a Puja event is always a very special & wonderful way to experience direct communication with the divine.
Each year we set aside the closest Saturday evening to World Peace Day to dedicate a whole night’s gonging to such a deeply personal & sacred connection in the name of Peace - & as always, we donate all the profits to a Peace Charity, each year we have gifted an average of £300, which is dedicated to the rescue, rehabilitation & support of child soldiers from war torn areas across the globe - if we believe that children are our future, I’m sure you will agree that this is such a worthy cause for us all to support & as a very small charity, our donation will do an enormous amount of good.
We’d love you to join us & be part of the Chiron’s ‘Peace Revolution’ & all you have to do is come along (in your pj’s or onesie), settle yourself down (you can bring a camping matress & pillow/blankets or a sleeping bag) & snuggle together with the dozens of others who attend, & drift in & out of sleep whilst a team of very dedicated Gongers will gently gong the whole night through - we’ll strike the 1st stroke at 11pm & the last at 6.30am - then we’ll share a cuppa & a croissant before we greet a brand new day with Peace Vibrations resonating in our hearts & minds. It’s a night to remember & tickets are selling fast - for the more dedicated Peace-hearts amongst you, there are a limited number of places for you to join us for a workshop in the afternoon to learn the basics, help us to prepare the Sacred Space, welcome all our guests & be part of the love & excitement which overflows & then be part of the playing team - we’ll tag-Gong all night & you’ll have the opportunity to play for approx. half an hour at some point in the night & that’s always a life-changing experience.
Go to this page for booking and info
It’s that time of year again - the children are on holiday, for 6 weeks! When my children were younger (they’re 33 & 24 now) the summer break was always a mixed bag, lots of high energy & excitement eventually leading into lots of frustration & boredom. And for the grown ups, a time of hard work honing creativity & organising skills to pro levels. Lots of fun spending time as a family together, discovering the wide variety of things on offer close to home & further afield & always the challenge to find interesting & engaging things to do which we’d all enjoy together.
We do often have requests from people who visit us at the Chiron & love the experience if it would be OK to bring their children along to our Healing Sound sessions & it always creates a bit of a dilemma for us. We love that you want to share the experience with your children & yes, of course, they will love it & don’t we know all too well that young people get stressed, we have to acknowledge that the world they inhabit is a far cry from the idyllic, lazy, sun-filled, summers which pass in a hazy, soft glow that we often see portrayed in those gorgeously nostalgic films we see from time to time. Our children, increasingly, have to navigate a high pressure culture fuelled with unrealistic expectations that they struggle to navigate & live up to. So yes, we know that what we share at the Chiron can be so valuable for youngsters, a little time out of the madness & busyness to slow down & be still with themselves & with you, with nothing to do, nowhere else to be, just find that lovely, easy space within to connect with & nestle into, it’s perfect to reconnect on an altogether ‘softer’, more loving energy.
Everything in us wants to say ‘YES’ immediately, but we are also aware that part of our job is to hold that space in a way that everyone who enters feels welcomed, safe & nurtured. The things we have to consider then are; is the youngster genuinely interested in the experience (or is it more that the parent feels it would be good for them, or that it would be something different to do together & fill a few hours), we know how powerful Healing Sounds are & sometimes the vibrations of the Gongs can be very intense, in our experience, an hour can be just too much & sometimes overwhelming for them, especially as a first experience, and we also have to balance the experience of others attending which might be spoiled if youngsters weren’t able to fully relax into the full hour of sound & of course, as parents, don’t forget that you won’t be able to be fully present if part of your awareness is focused in that ‘supervisor’ role which will effect the depth of relaxation you’ll get.
Taking all that into consideration over the years, we’ve scheduled some Holiday Sound Sessions which take into account all of the above. ‘Old Heart - Young Heart’ sessions are shorter (30 mins) & that gives the children an introduction & the opportunity to discover how they feel about Healing Sound & how the sessions are structured & conducted, they are cheaper (a real consideration if you might be bringing yourself + several youngsters), they are dedicated to children & parents so everybody attending will be understanding & unphased if there’s some fidgeting & settling, it means that we don’t have to impose an age limit (though very young children/babies might be uncomfortable with some of the deeper vibrations, but it is the perfect opportunity to try it out & see how it goes) & it also means that you can observe the effects & get a feel for how the sounds work (or not) for your children. We also spend a little time after the session introducing the youngsters to some of the sound tools we use which they usually love (& they might get a chance to rattle a rattle or drum a drum) - we love to turn people on to how amazing Healing Sounds are & the younger the better.
We, & those who’ve joined us, absolutely love these sessions, they are full of energy, excitement, happiness & interest & we can all simply relax and get the most out of the experience together. Check the schedule for ‘Old Hearts - Young Hearts’ & if you’d like to come & join us, we’d love to see you.
After over a year of visualising and planning we have just completed construction of our new 3m copper pyramid over the main sound chamber. there is a large double terminated quartz crystal in the apex, and it all centres over where two ley lines cross in the middle of the building. We owe big gratitude to Wayne Greensmith for the help and advice in making this manifest in physical reality. Come and get swept up in the vortex.
Venus, an old fashioned goddess.
It`s taken me a long time to find a connection, through the gong, with the energy of Venus. Through hundreds of hours of playing, the best I could find was a nice sound and even then only sometimes. Lately, though, I played the gong with some early Paiste mallets from about the 1980s. They brought out the best in sound and I began to `feel` a sense of presence in the gong, but as if from behind a closed door.
I was being shown the ornate outer entrance of a temple. Stone pillars carved in the shape of the Goddess on either side of doors painted in reds and white. It occurred to me that Venus was an old-fashioned Goddess, in the nicest way. She would sit regally in the inner sanctum of the temple and expect visitors to come to her. It was not her place to seek retainers. Suitable worshippers would, instead, be allowed the honour of access. The question remained, how to open the door?
People had tried bringing presents and alms, for piled around the wall at the front of the temple were gifts of gold and jewels and rich embroidered cloth. It was obvious that these had not bought entrance for eager devotees as they were still on the outside. So, if gifts from the material world were not enough, maybe simple Love would be the key. I looked around me for inspiration on how to symbolise the love for a deity. Beyond the walls of the temple were rose gardens, and then the land fell away towards a large ancient city in a valley. The banks of the hill were otherwise bare.
I picked a single rose and kissed it, before holding it out towards the entrance. To begin with nothing happened. Then there was a creaking sound and the heavy wooden doors slowly opened. Within was a foyer filled with ornate furniture and bowls of succulent fruit. Beyond was a passage and I was drawn to make my way down in semi-darkness. There was the distant sound of music wafting around the corners. Gently the light became brighter again and the music louder. The walls opened into a chamber of infinite beauty. In the centre was ……………
Playing the Sun Gong has always brought about a feeling of sadness within me, but the gong has been reticent to help me explain this. It doesn`t feel right, after all, the sun is the source of power within us. It is the source of abundance on this Earth and it gives light so that we can see the phases of the moon and the other planets. We should be celebrating this and the sun should be a part of this joy as we dance in the warm light.
So recently, I asked it again and the beautiful harmonics from the surface were disturbed by a cry of anguish. A flare of heat leapt from the surface and surrounded me in a ball of angry heat. Yellow flames licked at my face in a threatening way and I was fearful for the consequences. The Sun was venting a frustration born out of many millennia of being misunderstood.
Since the advent of life on this planet it has looked after us. It has provided for our needs and it has supported all the planets in the solar system. As a race, we have worshiped it and given thanks for everything we receive. We do celebrate the sun in many ways. However, we look on it as a permanent source of everything we consume from food to energy. We think it will always be there, like children perceive a benevolent parent. A child cannot conceive of the loss of a parent, even in adulthood.
The sun showed me a vision of the future, of it`s lifecycle. Then, I understood. The Sun has a life span, starting with it`s birth from cosmic material and ending with death when it burns out. We must understand that it is just like us, it knows it will die someday. It wanted me to know more though.
At some point it will expand in an uncontrollable ballooning of material and settle into a final stage of existence before death. In this catastrophic event, it will devastate the near planets, including Earth, it will kill it`s children. The Sun knows that this tragic future is mapped out and it cannot avoid the truth.
The Sun is sad that this will eventually happen, it is sad that we don`t see it`s vulnerability as well as it`s final death. We just take, take, take.
I, for one, will now see the star in a different light and give thanks for it`s life as much as the warmth it gives us. The gong now plays differently, it is more mellow although the odd solar flare from the rim reminds me to appreciate it in the right way.
John and June Shapter, Healing Sound Practitioners and founders of The Chiron Institute UK