Hayley Matthews: Here’s some sound advice – try a gong bath!

A festival-goer takes a 'gong bath' at the WOMAD Festival. Picture: Getty
A festival-goer takes a 'gong bath' at the WOMAD Festival. Picture: Getty
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I’ve spoken recently about my experience with pre-natal ­depression and with that came extreme anxiety. I’m talking the kind where I was explaining the family emergency nuclear drill escape plans should we be nuked by North Korea.

I was preparing to panic buy and had sectioned off an area in my flat that would be safest for us to go with the cats. I even had a “when I say we need to run, we need to run” chat with my six-year-old as well as a plan of what buildings would be safest to hide in should one of the egotistical leaders press their red button. I was a maniac.

For many months, I only had feelings of utter panic or that everything was on the brink of devastation and despair and it wasn’t pleasant. I even thought about switching the fridge off to prevent a house fire – however, as a fireman’s daughter, you can maybe forgive me for that one. This is just an insight into the stress my brain and body was going through due to hormones, anxiety and pregnancy madness.

I’m in a much better place now with the help of the wonderful people at Inchkeith House and some deep and meaningful chats with my family doctor, who is by far one of the best listeners and least judgemental people that I’ve ever had the joy of dumping all my mind’s activity on. His best advice was to write a book and use it as ­therapy (watch this space, I’m working on it), and it’s really helped me let go of a lot of stress.

However, the impact of stress leaves its mark deep so when the BBC tasked me during the week with trying out a gong bath I have to admit, I jumped at it. I’d never tried one before but had heard that it was very good at leaving you in a state of deep relaxation. I turned up to Edinburgh Sound Massage in Morningside with an open mind and was excited at the possibility of Karen Watt who runs it, fixing me.

There is no bath, or water and you don’t need a pair of Speedos, just an open mind as well as a willingness to relax.

I laid down on a table with a ­lavender pillow over my eyes as Karen filled the room with an amazingly gentle sound. I know it might not be for everyone but it’s actually incredibly soothing. It’s not loud and alerting, more deep and soothing because it works on our vibrations. It’s huge in London and picking up some speed here and I now completely understand why.

I also totally get why it’s called a “bath”. You’re encapsulated by sound and feel enveloped in something that I couldn’t describe if I tried. It’s one of those things that you have to try for yourself to know what I’m talking about. I had a stonking headache when I went in. However, when I came out I felt like a different person with a lightness that I’ve never experienced with any massage (and I’ve had a lot). The headache had also ­completely gone.

The deep relaxed state has stayed with me for a few days and I had one of the best sleeps I’ve had in a long time. In fact I’m so relaxed, I’ve been going about almost horizontal and very nearly forgot to write this ­article until my boss called me! If any of you out there feel that the stresses and anxious buzz of the world are having a detrimental impact on your health, honestly be open-minded, give the gong a go!