Richard Rudis: Therapy through Sacred Sound & Gong Baths

Naropa_Mindful_Podcast-Richard-Rudis

The newest episode of our podcast, Mindful U, is out on iTunesSpotify, Stitcher, and Fireside now! We are excited to announce this week’s episode features Richard Rudis, pioneer and teacher in the field of sacred sound healing, an author, and a long-time student of Vajrayana Buddhism.

play-icon Richard Rudis – Therapy through Sacred Sound and Gong Baths

Richard Rudis spent years in Tibet and Nepal, and in the Himalayas, where he met many teachers and many fundamental teachings came forward. At some point, the outline of sacred sound healing became clear, and he introduced the gong once he found a manufacturer who was creating a poly-tonal instrument that was noble enough and had as much expansion of sound, overtones, harmonics, and frequencies that would reflect sacred sound healing as it came from tradition. Then, he started on the journey of offering gong baths.

Full transcript below.

In 1988 Richard Rudis founded the Illuminarium Convergence – a modest storefront for the examination of metaphysical phenomenon. He began teaching Buddhist Dharma and vibrational healing (w/Tibetan instruments) shortly after. Considered most knowledgeable in the field of sacred sound healing, sound instruments from the Himalayas and associated vibrational healing techniques he is often a featured presenter at International Conferences. An associate of the Tibetan Sound Healing School of California (http://www.tibetanbowlschool.com), he teaches advanced classes in sound therapy outlined with Buddhist teachings. Learn more: www.sacredsoundgongbath.com

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Richard Rudis and podcast host, David DeVine 
Full transcript
Richard Rudis
“Therapy through Sacred Sound and Gong Baths”

[MUSIC]

Hello. And welcome to Mindful U at Naropa. A podcast presented by Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado.

I’m your host, David Devine. And it’s a pleasure to welcome you. Joining the best of Eastern and Western educational traditions – Naropa is the birth place of the modern mindfulness movement.

[MUSIC]

DAVID:
Hello. Today I’d like to welcome a very special guest to the podcast and the Naropa community. Richard Rudis also known as Sonam Dorje. Richard is a facilitator of sacred sound and also gong baths. He is also a Buddhist practitioner — so welcome to the podcast.

RICHARD RUDIS:
Thank you.

DAVID:
So, how are you doing today?

RICHARD RUDIS:
I’m good. Very good.

DAVID:
Ok, this is sort of like a special little podcast for me because you are sort of outside of the Naropa community — you know of us and you’re in town in Boulder facilitating all your gong baths and there is a mutual person that we know Foster Brashir who got us in contact and thought it would be really interesting to speak about. And when I started researching it was like, oh yes, I need to talk to this person. You’re doing some really good work. So, with that said — can you just tell me a little bit about yourself and how did you get to what you’re doing now with all the gongs and the gong bath?

RICHARD RUDIS:
Well, it stemmed from an early Rafel experience back — I was 19. I was drafted into the military. And in the process of getting through that experience, I was sent directly to Vietnam. I’ll tell you a very small story. I was in a helicopter flying over a jungle that had been napalmed. So, you can imagine a moonscape of destruction. And we came up over a hill and there was a beautiful mountain top with a reflective pool and a red pagoda and grass. It was as though you found a cut diamond inside of a dundee. And I turned to the pilot and said, what is that? And he said, oh that’s a Buddhist monastery. And I realized at that point — it was — I didn’t realize at that point actually. But it was a seed of experience that would follow me through my return to this civilization and return to an understanding of — or a lack of understanding of who we are and why we do things.

Ultimately, that brought me to various teachings — both the eastern and ultimately through Zen, through Mahayana and different schools of teachings — or basic schools and specific schools I ended up in Tibetan Buddhism, but that took about 20 years. But, in the process having an engineering background — I was very interested in the instruments that are found within the tradition (?) used to — for meditative purposes or for altering consciousness and for healing — for physical, emotional and spiritual healing.

Consequently, as I grew in Buddhist understanding of through sort of the architecture of the universe. I found these instruments to be intriguing at best and then ultimately something that I wanted to bring out in a more structured way for — people don’t have to be Buddhist obviously, but they bridge the gap — Buddhism is not a religion, of course, as you — as you know. It’s a philosophy based on that — then the instruments are more accessible to.

DAVID:
Yeah okay so through the spirituality you were actually able to find the instruments —

RICHARD RUDIS:
Exactly.

DAVID:
…for the work you’re doing now?

RICHARD RUDIS:
That’s exactly true. I never set off to be a sound healer or a vibrational healer or sacred sound practitioner or anything of nature. It’s just that the way my mind is set up — they surface in these teachings.

DAVID:
Yeah, did you ever see yourself as a healer or someone wanting to help —

RICHARD RUDIS:
No, not particularly. Basically, I’m a bit of an introvert so I’m usually not comfortable in social sittings and things of that nature. Which is strange because now I do workshops and conferences and concerts all over the world. But, within the realm of the teachings, which support of my limitations or my perceived limitations.

DAVID:
So, throughout your time of doing this facilitating of the gong baths have you picked up any other instruments that are essentially not based in the tradition of —

RICHARD RUDIS:
Oh yeah.

DAVID:
Do you just incorporate —

RICHARD RUDIS:
You find sacred sound instruments all across various traditions. Anything from all native traditions — obviously from something as basic as a drum, which is obviously not that basic, but more primal beats and in roots experiences through very complex poly tonal harmonics — they’re found or across — across the range — Native American obvious — Australian — every native tradition from voice onward. It’s — my focus is basically on the Tibetan Buddhist tradition only because you have to focus on something.

I don’t think — oral approach to your to sacred sound is necessarily the best way to go because of the physics of sound essentially just because it’s a sacred instrument to the Aborigines in Australia and it works very well on its own when you plucks it out of that concept or out of that tradition and you throw it in with something like the Tibetan instruments you may or may not get a complimentary experience basically.

DAVID:
Experimentation.

RICHARD RUDIS:
Experimentation. Yeah, but it’s a physics — you know essentially you end up with sound waves that are either going to be complementary or — or they’re going to nullify or even cancel or become distant in some way.

So, when you’re dealing with a physical experience you want to be more on the safe side then experimental or if you will.

DAVID:
If you have not agreeing sound waves or frequencies, then the experience or could it be having stuff come up that is a little scary or different than what you’ve intended.

RICHARD RUDIS:
Yeah, well that happens too because we all have our own stories if you will. In fact, some parts of the gong bath as I’ve designed it is actually designed to be the phrase from the old Star Trek — resistance is futile. You know it’s like a tidal wave experience that — that you really can’t get away from. Your immersed in it completely. And whatever’s going to happen is going to happen in an actual sort of way. But I do that within the constructs of harmonic support. So that you’re not a boat adrift essentially.

DAVID:
OK. It’s like an audio rites of passage almost where you know it’s something you like — you’re like oh, I don’t know if I like that part, but I love the experience of everything and that — that is part of the experience. ultimately.

RICHARD RUDIS:
Ultimately it builds upon itself. People who find the — the more dynamic parts of the gong bath — which is a very, very small — if it’s an hour long experience it’s no more than three or four minutes. But it is tremendously dynamic and individuals that are — have the most problems with it I’ve found — I’ve been doing this for 25 years are the people who crave it later.

DAVID:
Interesting.

RICHARD RUDIS:
You know, it’s like they’re the first ones — the furthest away from the gong. They’re crying — they’re experiencing pain — there is some sort of cellular memory thing going on — some story going on in their head that is uncomfortable for them. But then they’ll come to another and that experience will have shifted, which is the whole idea of it of course. And then, after two or three of the experiences they’re the ones that are up close to the gong. They are the ones who are saying it’s not long enough — it’s not loud enough, it’s you know whatever. It’s like a craving.

DAVID:
There’s like an eruption where they’re like I kind of like that.

RICHARD RUDIS:
Yeah, yeah interesting. Ok, so how long have you been facilitating gang baths and how long has this been a part of your like path?

RICHARD RUDIS:
Well, sacred sounds — since the 80s. I was doing a lot of basic research with a couple other fellows in the States — again had much to do with my Buddhist training. So, I spent as much time in Tibet and Nepal — in the Himalayas as I — as I could during that period. And that’s where I met a lot of my teachers and a lot of the fundamental teachings that came forward. So, the outline of sacred sound healing became clear. But I didn’t introduce the gong — even though gong is part of that tradition, but I didn’t introduce the gong until there was a manufacturer who was creating a poly-tonal instrument that was noble enough. Was — had as much expansion of sound and overtones in harmonics and frequencies that would reflect sacred sound healing as I understand it from tradition. And that was Paiste — they’re an old are an old family, manufacturer of mostly cymbals. You look at their history and they lasted through the — both world wars — Europe and they introduced the planetary series of gongs in the mid-nineties. So that’s really where I picked up one and started seeing the potentiality of bringing it forward and sacred sound.

DAVID:
Yeah, wow, so good and just so everyone knows Paiste is a cymbal company that drummers and instrumentation people use and apparently, they have a line of cymbals and gongs that are based in the universal kind of frequencies.

RICHARD RUDIS:
Exactly as I understand it, Hans Gustav — I don’t know if you know him? He wrote a book in the 70s called the “Harmony of the Spheres” — I think. And somebody had Paiste — picked up that book and decided to create gong’s that would reflect the vibrational signatures of all the planets in the solar system. And, now it’s been expanded to some asteroids and things of that nature also.

DAVID:
Yes, I saw some of that.

RICHARD RUDIS:
Yes, the moon and even some emotional states that they create. But the fundamental planetary system is essentially — it’s easy to determine the planetary frequency based on observations and how long does it take the planet earth to get around the sun. And once you’ve reduced things to numbers then those numbers are easily expressed with vibration or sound.

DAVID:
Ok, when you say poly-tonal — can you explain what that actually means?

RICHARD RUDIS:
Well, what the — the instrument that I use for instance is the — they called the planetary earth gong. It’s the earth has multiple vibrations — one of which is — as it moves around the sun. So, that’s the one I use because it — its fundamental vibration is 136.1 hertz. So, it’s a very low frequency. What’s really — almost magical about that frequency is that in that Vedic tradition — in eastern tuning which is as you probably knows about a half a stop deeper than our tuning.

DAVID:
Yeah, they go twelve.

RICHARD RUDIS:
Twelve, yeah. The frequency — 136 is C Sharp in eastern tuning. Now, C sharp — so C Sharp in the Vedic tradition is the frequency that has been identified as the ohm frequency. So, the C syllable the ohm cannot be expressed in any grander terms than creation itself. You know it is from energy to matter essentially. And vibrating on that edge of spirituality. So, ohm is very powerful — what I’m saying is a very powerful frequency or expression in eastern tuning and it’s been identified as C Sharp and all — for instance all the drum strings and the sitar are tuned to C sharp.

So, the magical part of it is that the earth in its natural passage around the sun vibrates at C sharp. I mean that’s 136.1 — that’s what it is. So, there it is that synchronicity is there. So, they’ve tuned the instrument to that fundamental, but because it’s so low — they’ve then created octaves based on that fundamental. And the octaves according to their — what they say is vastly larger than what the human ear can hear. So, there’s sub sounds and ultrasounds — these are vibrations signatures that are below and above our human hearing.

DAVID:
It’s like infra — infra based.

RICHARD RUDIS:
That’s right, exactly.

DAVID:
So, it’s below then what you can hear, but you can feel it.

RICHARD RUDIS:
That’s right.

DAVID:
You can rattle a house with it.

Q: It has effects, right? Yeah absolutely. So, I have a multitude of octaves to work with — on this one instrument. And we’ve been able to — with the — some instrumentation — it’s not as sensitive as others, but even within our basic instrumentation we’ve been able to identify more than the 21 octaves that we can hear with the human ear.

But all the octaves are based in C sharp — eastern tuning. So, by manipulating the surface of the instrument with various compression ratio mallets and even I project my own chi through the instrument, which responds in ways that mallets can’t reproduce because it’s directly interrelated with me at an energetic level.

DAVID:
Yeah, that’s unique.

RICHARD RUDIS:
It’s unique. So, I can then create these various octaves in the air around us and in a complimentary way so that when they bump into each other — they will create overtones. And, as you know, an overtone is not something that I created as much as it is a product of the vibrations co-mingling in the atmosphere around us. So, by doing that through the multiple octaves I have available to me I can create a symphonic experience of primal tones that are somewhat predictable. I mean I know what’s going to happen although it’s a very dynamic fluid experience. So, it’s a pol-tonal result of all of that together, essentially.

DAVID:
Yeah, ok. I would assume that most people out there don’t know what a gong bath is. So, can you just explain what it is — like if I was to walk into the room of a gong bath what would I experience and what would I see and what would you be doing? Like what is happening?

RICHARD RUDIS:
Well in an ideal situation, for instance, I just gave a gong bath at a kiva in Carbondale, Colorado. And the kiva is acoustically — it’s a circular room. The walls are cantered out 3, 4 degrees so that you have more of a lotus experience than mirroring experience. In that ideal situation, then I set up myself in the middle of the room. So that the people who are participating in the experience or receiving the experience are — will be in a radiating circles around me. It’s more of a — for me to mondavic experience. So, I am in the center of the mandala. And people become the radiating edges of it and I’ve — we have found that on a physical level the sound will move through the — enter the crown of our head and move through our bodies — our physical bodies in a way as to stimulate the acupuncture points in the hands and in the feet. And picking up any toxins on a more emotional level, on habitual thought forms and moving it physically through those parts of our body. And out, essentially. So, that I don’t want people to be aligned, you know, as humans we have a tendency to queue up, you know, so what you would see is a number of people in circles that are spoking out just a little askew of each other. So that people’s heads and feet are not aligned with each other. And I can talk more about the physical aspects of it if you’d like. Because those are the easy things to track.

DAVID:
Yeah, so my next question had to do a little bit more with like the therapeutic uses of the gong baths. So, it seems as though there’s this idea and healing modality of how sound — how I was hearing it from you can change patterns whether it be on a cellular, molecular level, emotion or energetic level. And I’m curious like how does that work? The science of that.

RICHARD RUDIS:
The science part — this physical part is very easy actually. I mean easier to track than say the emotional spiritual.

DAVID:
Yeah because that’s all unique to individuals.

RICHARD RUDIS:
That’s true. If you go to my YouTube site that is under either my name Richard Rudis or Sonam Dorje — my Tibetan name. You can come up with a blood test that we — we took — videos of blood essentially —

DAVID:
Yeah, I saw that.

Pre-gong bath and post gong-bath. And you can essentially see that the blood cells become more uniform, the flow is increased, the black material — little specks of black material inside cell walls — makes its way outside the cell walls into the fluid expansion between themselves. What I do essentially is stimulate both the pineal and the pituitary gland, which is the — the pineal is called the God seed gland —

DAVID:
Yeah, the seed of the soul.

RICHARD RUDIS:
The seed of the soul. And the pituitary is the physical component to that. So, those two become stimulated and start to interact with the body in a dynamic way. Also akin to the pituitary gland is something called the vagus nerve, which is also known as the wanderer nerve. The vagus nerve starts in the serpentine brain — our root brain. And moves out throughout the body and it throws out two receptors that in the large bone behind our ears — that’s the largest bone in our body — and consequently it’s very easy to vibrate with poly-tonal sacred tone instruments. By vibrating those bones then I can stimulate the vagus nerve and it is literally hardwired to all of our internal organs except for the spleen. The spleen is sort of the designated driver in this experience. And the spleen —

DAVID:
I like that.

RICHARD RUDIS:
The spleen is — it houses 20 percent more oxygenated blood at any given time than the rest of the body. So —

DAVID:
Whatcha doing down there spleen?

RICHARD RUDIS:
I know. I know. Well deep sea divers — free divers they go as deep as they can until the stress on their body stimulates the spleen and that oxygenated blood fills their senses and they can make it back up to the surface actually.

DAVID:
Wow, body science.

RICHARD RUDIS:
Yeah, I know. Body science. Anyway, so by stimulating the vagus nerve, which is also recently believed to be the connection between the mind and gut because the mind is no longer — at least in our architecture of understanding — the housing of consciousness — the aura. It is — you know it’s the heart. It’s the ganglion nerves down at the base of our spine. It’s the whole biosphere, essentially. But they don’t know how it communicates other than on a fundamental level. But now they’re believing that the vagus nerve is that link between the gut and the brain. But anyway, by stimulating that — then you can cause toxins on a physical level at the very least into the — the fluid suspension between the cells. When it’s there — by — it’s a lot easier to rid yourself of it by drinking plenty of water, by taking hot Epson salts bath. But to get it from its entrapment within the organs into a place where we can actually move it out of our body on a physical level that’s what vibration does for us.

DAVID:
Yeah. And those videos that you were speaking of — so I actually saw them last night where you had a before picture of like this microscoped cellular level cells moving in the bloodstream and they just look — it looked like traffic. Straight traffic. And then — then you had the after effect. You could see every single cell and they were doing its work and they just had free range to go do what they need to do and do their job and it’s exactly how you explained it. It just frees it up and what is it about vibration or certain frequencies that do that? You know it might be hard to believe for some people, but it’s true. Sound can do some crazy stuff.

RICHARD RUDIS:
Oh absolutely.

DAVID:
It can levitate things.

RICHARD RUDIS:
Yeah it can.

DAVID:
It’s not that it — it doesn’t make gravity not exist it just cancels out gravity within a certain range of which it’s being used.

RICHARD RUDIS:
Absolutely. What is happening at the cellular level is — is not debatable. The only variable difference between those two slides, that you were referring to, is a gong bath experience in between. We know that the core (?) expand so that makes cellular clogging in the cells less frequent — the cells begin to flow because —

DAVID:
So, the channels are more open.

RICHARD RUDIS:
Yeah, more open. That oxygenation of the blood is increased — therefore more oxygen gets to the brain. And, you know, it’s a domino effect essentially throughout the body. I have had reports on a physical level — and I think even more profound experiences are — and emotional on spiritual level, but we can track the physical levels much more easily. Where people have — in one case one woman came in and had a biopsy on one of her breasts that looked like it was a cancerous tumor. And so, she came in three days before she had the second biopsy and asked if we could focus the vibration on essentially that part of her body essentially. And when she went in for the second biopsy, the tumor wasn’t there. Now, I can’t say that that was — maybe it was just her intention to dissolve the tumor. The human mind is vastly more powerful than we give it credit for you know generally. But that experience has been repeated several times. One woman I can recall — an amusing story — I have CDs and the CDs are done in pluralistic sort of recording. So that’s — they’re surround sound experiences. And designed to stimulate cellular memory of an actual gong bath — something that was experienced first hand.

And she started playing one of my CDs in the background — 24 hours a day. So, she said the first week her teenage son decided that he was going to clean up his room for the first time in two years.

DAVID:
Look at that!

RICHARD RUDIS:
And she said, you know, that was trackable. I could see — I did this and that happened.

DAVID:
It’s not just internal cleaning. LAUGHING

RICHARD RUDIS:
Right, and then she felt that the harmony in the household in general was vastly more in keeping with one another.

DAVID:
Wow. I really like that.

RICHARD RUDIS:
Her husband cleaned out the garage for the first time in five years. Her neighbor who had old refrigerators and washing machines in his back yard decided that he was going to clean it up. And, she says this is a stasis that we were in for five years. I started playing this in the background and suddenly things changed. So, I mean it’s hard to track the cause and effect other than the obvious one.

DAVID:
What I’ve noticed having like fairly sensitive ears to sound — like I swear to God I can hear like a dog whistle sometimes.

RICHARD RUDIS:
Oh sure.

DAVID:
I just like perk my head up and they’re like what’s up? And I’m like you don’t hear that. And they’re like you’re crazy, but we are inundated with sounds all day long. The sounds of cars driving by, the sound of your refrigerator running, the sound of someone walking upstairs, the sound of doors shutting or there’s so many sounds that sometimes help — sometimes don’t and sometimes you don’t even notice. And so, when you take control of the sonic space in which you are subjected to — then there’s some healing that can happen and or just some energetically neutral safe space where you’re not just feeling a little tense — just from the sonic background that you are around.

RICHARD RUDIS:
Oh yeah, that’s your magnetic flux of the electricity moving through the wires around you.

DAVID:
Oh yeah.

RICHARD RUDIS:
The cycling at you know 30 cycles a second — that type of thing. We’re like fish that are born into water — we’re unaware of the water. It’s just the environment that we find ourselves and until we meet something that is other — the gong bath, sacred sound experiences in general —

DAVID:
Nature.

RICHARD RUDIS:
Nature. There — there’s a built in pause or a silence — sometimes you need to overwhelm yourself with sound to experience the silence. But it’s a practice that you can use. And we do do that in the gong bath, essentially. We’ve got a lot of attention into the space between the notes.

DAVID:
Yeah, I learned that a long time ago. I’ve been a drummer for 20 years. So, I’m pretty familiar — not so much gong bath or anything like that, but like just instrumentation and space between the notes that actually makes the notes that you’re hitting more important. You know, so it’s like the spatial awareness of what — like when you’re drumming — if you’re not on beat your space is way off. Wow, having the headroom to just reset. I love it.

RICHARD RUDIS:
Yeah exactly. On a more emotional level, people have reported back some really profound changes in their lives. I work quite a bit in Chicago. I come back to the Denver or central Colorado area every four months. and I do the same with Chicago. And one guy there was in a state of unknowing or flux on sort of an emotional, physical level. And he came to gong bath and I heard from him about four or five months afterwards and he said that it made a profound difference in his life. He went home — he sold his business. He sold his home. He moved to Sedona. He bought into a meditation center there.

DAVID:
He just went for it — and went to Sedona.

RICHARD RUDIS:
Yes right, that was the effect of one gong bath and he contributed the change — obviously he was ready for change, but whatever the gong bath did for him it was that — event horizon for him to get up off the seat, essentially.

DAVID:
I love hearing stories like that where there’s just like a shift of something — and it’s like we all want to be shifting in every moment, but when we get stuck — and then we find that thing that just floods us with inspiration. And then we just do everything we wanted to do in the last five years in like one month. You know, it’s just — it’s amazing and it’s always been there.

RICHARD RUDIS:
That’s true. Well the gong baths are designed along the same — the four fundamental truths, essentially, but as you know the idea that when Buddha talked about the life of suffering — he is suggesting that we become aware that there is a certain level of suffering in our life. Again, like fish and water, we — if don’t know something other than suffering than we don’t know more suffering, essentially. So, it’s that moment of awakening. And then of course the second noble truth is could be akin to the idea that the cause of our — what the cause of that suffering is, of course in Buddhism it’s the sort of — the ignorance of truth. That there is a fundamental truth that we are all part of and if we’re not aware of that truth then we are in some state of suffering. A third noble truth, which is probably the most important is that the situation as we find it does not have to be that way. We can change that through awakening to something that’s innate or intrinsic within us. And then of course the eightfold path or the fourth noble truth is just a roadmap to awaken us, essentially. But the sacred sound in all of its applications — if it’s done with skill — I don’t think someone buys a gong — even a high quality gong — can just hang out their shingle and say that they’re a sound healer or a gong bath practitioner. It takes some craft in understanding of what you’re doing and what you’re producing and what that is doing to actually create something that is fully beneficial. Some things will be beneficial or effective at some level, but to be full spectrum of active is usually a different thing.

DAVID:
Yeah that was something I wanted to ask you like — how important is it for the facilitator and the instruments to be pure in heart and mind and soul — like you just said you can’t just buy a gong. You go out there and start practicing and tell people it’s going to be ok and like there’s stuff that might come up in someone that you don’t know how to channel or you — I don’t know you just — the presentation of the act of a gong bath might not be as potent as it could be.

RICHARD RUDIS:
And that brings me to what was kind of a controversial decision on my part. When I first started doing this, I had a long complicated name for what I was doing. And one of my sponsors in Chicago encouraged me to come up with a different name because it was too esoteric, essentially. And, although I thought it was more accurate to what was going on. So, I came up with the name gong bath. And I didn’t like it, but I bought it up for that tour. And she said, oh no, it’s — I can still remember her saying it’s a — it’s a sexy short thing that people — you know it’s intriguing —

DAVID:
Its digestible.

RICHARD RUDIS:
Yeah, digestible. So, it kind of stuck. And after three, four, five years or so — suddenly other people were doing gong baths, which was cool with me. I mean — I think there’s a lot of need — there is a lot of practitioners should be doing this. Everyone — and for instance, I feel that everyone in the world should have an old Himalayan bowl — a singing bowl in their home. It’s just part of their environment, essentially.

So, then I started getting these people were saying I went to a long path and I got sick afterwards. Or I went to a gong bath and I didn’t — you know it wasn’t for me. It was whatever — it was something irritable about it. And I realized that they weren’t talking about what I was doing — my gong bath. They were talking about what other people were doing. And that isn’t to say other people aren’t doing brilliant things. I believe that’s true. I believe that’s true very much, but I felt the need to separate what I was doing from what other people were doing in case what they were doing was not equal, if you will, to what I was doing. And again, I’m not saying that other people aren’t doing brilliant things — even more brilliant than you know my meager efforts. But. I wanted what I did to be singular or an experience — when someone said I went to a gong bath they meant I went to a gong bath with Richard Rudis, essentially.

So, I trademarked in 2002. In the society of people working with sacred sound that became an irritant. This is only in the United States and in Europe they’re even more evolved in sacred sound than we are — vastly more. For longer periods, actually. Maybe because they have a longer history. You know we’re still pretty young here in the States. So, in the States, all they I wanted to do and again let me stress that I don’t want to ever feel as though I’m saying that my thing is the best or mine is — mine is of a particular quality that I can depend on and others can depend on. And that’s the standard for me. And so, I just encourage people to make up their own name. essentially.

DAVID:
Yeah, what I’m hearing is you have this thing that you’ve developed and you’re calling it the gong bath and it’s so uniquely you that the experience — it will be different than so-called other people doing gong baths and so hence you want that experience to be known for the work you’re doing because of the approaches — because it’s not just the instruments and the tools you use — it’s your spirituality, it’s your practices, it’s your way of living, your understandings that develop the experience. So, it just sounds like you want that to be — like you know what you’re getting into. It’s like when you go see a band it’s like you know what you’re going to get.

RICHARD RUDIS:
Right, exactly.

DAVID:
Ok, so when it comes to facilitating the gong baths — I was watching some videos of you doing it. There’s multiple instruments that you use on the instruments — or multiple tools they use on instruments — like mallets and can you just explain a little bit about those and how they are useful, and they guide it?

RICHARD RUDIS:
Sure. I begin each gong bath with a set of tingshas, which is a Buddhist traditional instrument that is designed to awaken us at an emotional — even a physical level. So, you’ll notice at all the tradition — all the rituals, all the ceremonies within Buddhism is always preceded by a set of tingshas being struck three times. Specifically, to announce or to awaken the body to something that’s going to happen, essentially. I also bring in a Himalayan bowl — in my case an older singing bowl because of its poly-tonal nature it is in the nature of that instrument, which is a (?) bowl — there are multiple. I know we don’t have time to go with that, but there is — it’s a (?) bowl that is designed to essentially bring us to center. Especially if you’re accustomed to meditative — what a meditative center is or an emotional center or spiritual, physical center — sort of the middle of the seesaw — the part of us that never moves at least the world kind of pivots around. So, a sanctuary space, if you will.

I set the tone with those two instruments and then I’ll move into the song itself.

DAVID:
So, you intentionally bring people to the center and then —

RICHARD RUDIS:
Yeah, exactly. So, in that safe place and in fact the first 20 minutes of any gong bath is designed to entrain the mind of the people in the event into a safe place. And by entrainment, then I can always — if there is dissidents or some sort of aggravation within the energetic room during the experience, which I try to stay attuned to as best I can, then I can always revisit that entrainment layer — that sanctuary. So that when people start to — some people go into convulsions even or they’re — they’re shaking — the energy is too great for them to — to hold in their physical body and they start to shake. Then by revisiting that sanctuary spot — that tonal sanctuary spot then it calms things down and we can go back in again. You know, it’s — let’s take a breath. Let’s do this again — that type of thing.

So, I have taken the approach — now there are many planetary gongs put out by Paiste and other people. I use Paiste because I can depend on their quality. I know that an earth gong — it’s tuned to 136.1 no matter what gong off the shelf I pick is going to be one 136.1. And it’s going to have a latitude of harmonics that I can depend on. And endurance and just the ability to hold the frequency over a period of time, which I think is important.

So, I do modify the instrument slightly because I think its very nature it’s all metal obviously. And I like to bring a little bit more warmth into it — so I change it just slightly, but I depend on Paiste because I can depend on their quality.

So, I have approached it by using the earth gong, which is — as I said before the fundamental ohm in the universe. Or if I use a second gong, it is also an earth gone, however, has a different shape of sound. So, from the teachings I understand that there are — we can reduce ourselves to an understanding of two emotional components. One feminine in nature and one masculine in nature. So, the feminine nature in Buddhism is transcended wisdom — translates into transcend wisdom. The knowing of that truth that we talked about and the masculine is the transcend to compassion. So, one has to reach a level of compassion and understanding with self and others to cross the threshold into the transcended wisdom. So, it’s a tauntringly it’s a union between the feminine and the masculine. And the two gongs — one is expression has a shape of sound that has a lot more edges to it, which is masculine in nature and the other one is more rounded — feminine in nature. So, if I do use two gongs there — they’re both earth gongs — planetary earth gongs, but they’re expressing that 136.1, but the shape of sounds are different. And working together — they create something even bigger than the components of the two. But to alter the sounds — or the alter to — not alter so much as expand or evaluate or evolve the tonal qualities that are coming out of the instrument or instruments — I use multiple mallets — compression ratios are different than some of them that recreate whale songs and other —

DAVID:
Are those the rubber tip ones?

RICHARD RUDIS:
Yeah, rubber tip ones.

DAVID:
So, he has these rubber ones and you just like screech it down — it’s kind of like a really cool exotic sound.

RICHARD RUDIS:
It is.

DAVID:
It’s not just you hitting a gong with one mallet — you have like a bag of mallets and even has some metal jingly things. It’s not just one sound — you’re going to hear a huge amount of difference — kind of unique sounds and some that simulate nature.

RICHARD RUDIS:
That’s right. And, I found through my own practice that the instrument — or instruments respond positively and dynamically to my projection of my own chi. So, I will do a demonstration for people sometimes where I’ll bring the fundamental up in a controlled sequence of beats. So, we have a drone essentially and that drum will be — will be there for as long as I want to keep it there. And by not changing anything other than projecting my own chi’s through the instrument — I can take that drone into various harmonic sympathetic or complimentary vibrations with the fundamental. And so, I project that through the instrument as well — it’s like another mallet, essentially.

DAVID:
Wow. So cool. Wow, I feel like we could talk to you all day. Like our time is running short. But I do see some instruments on the table and I’d love to — for our last part just kind of —

RICHARD RUDIS:
Sure.

DAVID:
Yeah showcase those and see what you’d want to do with them.

RICHARD RUDIS:
Well these are tingshas as we addressed earlier. They’re very piercing — its sort of a single note experience. These are very old ones. I’ll just strike them very lightly.

[SOUND / STRIKING]

They have sort of a binaural experience — and that’s not true for all of them, but the older ones like this they kind of jump from the left to right brain.

DAVID:
And they just look like a really thick small cymbals that can fit in the palm of your hand that you’re just hitting together.

RICHARD RUDIS:
They all come in different sizes. But as I say, this is very old, which is probably —

DAVID:
It feels very clearing.

RICHARD RUDIS:
Exactly.

DAVID:
It’s like sweeping the mental floor.

RICHARD RUDIS:
Hmmm.

DAVID:
It’s, ah! It’s clean. Let’s start over.

RICHARD RUDIS:
Good. And then the singing bowl. I’ll play it like — there’s different ways of playing, but I’ll play it to begin with like a gong.

[GONG SOUND]

RICHARD RUDIS:
It will go on for a period of time. Longer than we can hear it actually.

DAVID:
Probably run the whole podcast.

RICHARD RUDIS:
And that’s — so that’s sort of the gong experience and then this — it can also be sung.

[SOUND]

RICHARD RUDIS:
I’m stopping it because —

DAVID:
Wow, it’s so good. You can feel the vibration which is a woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo.

RICHARD RUDIS:
Yeah, yeah that’s right.

DAVID:
Wow. OK, (phew) that is our time. But I have like a million more questions and they would just spark another hour. So, I don’t want to do that to you. But, I’m just so happy for you to speak with me today. I feel like our listeners are going to really get a lot out of it and just, so they know, and they have more information — can you just tell them where to find you? Maybe like a website, any social media outlets. I know you have some CDs and some tutorials. And you actually sell gongs and singing bowls and some of these instruments. So, can you just let people know where to find you?

RICHARD RUDIS:
Sure, for the concerts I have a website called www.SacredSoundGongBath.com — which keeps people up to date. And also, if you wanted to get onto the newsletter — it’s a monthly newsletter — it sends out the schedule of where I am and what I’m doing. I literally teach all over the world. So —

DAVID:
OK, so you’re around.

RICHARD RUDIS:
So, I’m around.

DAVID:
You’re always around. I love it.

RICHARD RUDIS:
I also sell artifacts for my — for various teachers in Tibet and Nepal. And that’s www.BuddhistArtifacts.com. There’s also a — links to the newsletter and to the concert tours and things of that nature there. On YouTube if you put in my name Richard Rudis — R-U-D-I-S us or Sonam Dorje — you can — there’s a YouTube channel that has various tutorials on how to use the instruments. I’m part of a Tibetan bowl school in Encinitas, California — which is rather a brilliant — I’m just part of — there’s is other person — a brilliant sound healer called the Diane Mandle — who was there and she’s under a SoundEnergyHealing.com.

So, she’s — you know that school is there as a resource — various levels. And see what else — I’m on Instagram. You know I try to get the word out everywhere — YouTube — a lot of YouTube stuff.

DAVID:
Can you spell your Tibetan name?

RICHARD RUDIS:
It’s S-O-N-A-M and the second name is Dorje — D-O-R-J-E. When I was in Tibet in ’96 I was able to take refuge with the current karma — about the 17th karma before he escaped to India. And he gave me that name, which is something I’m trying to live up to. It’s — it translates to mean meritorious thunderbolt —

DAVID:
Whoa!

RICHARD RUDIS:
I know. LAUGHS. It’s a big thing to live up to.

DAVID:
The gongs are pretty thunderbolt-ish. And they take that spark of energy in which you’re putting into it. So, I — I see you doing it.

RICHARD RUDIS:
Thanks.

DAVID:
I see you doing it.

RICHARD RUDIS:
Thank you.

DAVID:
So, thank you so much for speaking with me today. Your work is just doing amazing things for people — it’s very therapeutic. It’s just a lovely experience. I’m actually going to go on Monday at the Star House.

RICHARD RUDIS:
Oh good!

DAVID:
So, I’ll see you. I’ve actually experienced you — like 3 years ago. And I didn’t really know who you were, but it was just like a killer experience. And I totally get it.

RICHARD RUDIS:
Good.

DAVID:
It makes complete sense. So, thank you for your work and thank you for speaking with us today.

RICHARD RUDIS:
All right thank you very much.

DAVID:
So, I’d like to thank Richard Rudis for coming to the podcast and speaking with us. He is a facilitator of sacred sound gong baths and also is a practicing Buddhist practitioner.

[MUSIC]

On behalf of the Naropa community thank you for listening to Mindful U. The official podcast of Naropa University. Check us out at www.naropa.edu or follow us on social media for more updates.

[MUSIC]

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