We try an immersive Cacao and Gong Bath Workshop at Fletcher's Cottage Spa, East Lothian

Jo McCoy’s sessions are an effective way to reduce stress
Jo McCoy sitting in front of her gongsJo McCoy sitting in front of her gongs
Jo McCoy sitting in front of her gongs

We all know that sound is powerful.

There are certainly chord progressions that can make you cry, and it can be soothing, as well as jarring or uplifting.

At former civil servant and yogi Jo McCoy’s Cacao and Gong Bath Workshops, the sound she makes is all-encompassing. As she explains, you can become so immersed in it, that it’s a way of almost escaping your thoughts. You can reduce stress, and, she says ‘help remove emotional blockages from trauma, and even stimulate altered states of consciousness’.

She’s had people cry and laugh in her workshops.

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I’m trying a taster of one at Fletcher’s Cottage Spa at Archerfield. We’re welcomed to our soft mats with a cup of hot cacao, and Jo sits in front of us, all dressed in white.

We begin with a bit of chanting, plus gentle stretches.

Then we think of a positive affirmation. Mine is ‘go with the flow’, simply because it’s the first thing that pops into my head.

Once we’re flat on our backs on the mat, Jo leads us through a body scan meditation. When I do this at home, to try to fall asleep, it never works, but it’s very effective with her guidance. She names part of the body - calf, or forehead, say - then we repeat the word in our head, before relaxing the area.

I already feel like I’m made of putty, as Jo starts to strike the gongs, which are bigger than serving plates. The sound shimmers, and reaches crescendos that feel temporarily intense, before fading away. She uses a smaller instrument near our bodies, and, though it’s not touching me, I can feel its vibrations humming in my legs.

There’s about 40 minutes of this, but it feels like only about ten. I loose all awareness of time, which is unusual for me, since I’m always thinking about what’s next, especially if I’m nearing lunchtime.

The tinkle of little cymbals rouses us, and indicates that it’s time to slowly sit up.

We repeat our positive affirmations from the beginning, and finish up with some more chanting and stretches. I wander outside feeling strangely lucid, as if I’ve just woken from a very long and refreshing nap. According to Jo, you should do something like this regularly to reap the benefits, and I would most definitely be up for a bit more gonging.

Cacao and Gong Bath Workshop at Fletcher’s Cottage Spa, Dirleton. The next dates are December 6 and 21; January 3 and 31; February 21 and March 20, tickets are £45, see www.archerfieldhouse.com/things-to-do-east-lothian



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