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Finding Our Way 'OM'

The sound of OM resonates deeply on all levels of our being. It connects body, mind and spirit, vibrating with a universal beat. It is the sound within all aspects of nature, and we are always immersed in the resonance of OM, whether we are consciously aware of this or not. This is the sound that runs through our prana or breath, and bringing attention to this tone connects us to Source. It brings together the past, present and future, contains all sound within, and attunes us to the primordial prayer of life. As a chant, OM opens up the nadis or energy pathways, giving voice to our breath, our awareness, our connection to life itself. This one syllable holds the connection to the innermost chambers of who we are, how we are all intertwined with the earth, and as a reflection of the greater universe, providing a sense of deep peace and release.

There are four sounds to AUM or OM. The first 'A' (ahhh) moves up the throat and into the mouth, representing our sense of who we are from an egoic perspective. It vibrates in the lower abdomen in the lower chakras. 'U' (ohhh) moves the sound forward across the tongue to the front of the mouth, vibrating in the solar plexus. It brings balance, clarity and tunes us into our inner world. 'M' moves to the closed lips as humming, inviting us to awareness of the trans-formative power of the universe. 'M' resonates in the crown chakra. The fourth sound is the sound of silence that happens just before and just after the chant begins and ends. It goes beyond the verbal into pure consciousness.

On a lighter OM note, I am reminded of a story from one of my yoga classes. Joining our voices in harmony, we always sound the OM at the end of class. E had volunteered to lead the OM when I had no voice because of a bad cold. I could barely speak, much less carry the sounding that day, so was pleased, but also a bit surprised when E volunteered. He didn't strike me as someone who would be very comfortable with that task. Nevertheless E was our designated leader and at the end of class following savasana, we were all seated and waiting for E to begin. We sat there waiting in total silence, students looking at me, me looking at E, and no sound coming from anyone. Finally, one of the women took a deep breath and began to chant, at which point everyone else joined in.

I was gathering up my things after class when E offered to help carry my bag. I declined his offer, saying I needed to go change before heading off to school where I teach. Looking genuinely puzzled he said he thought he was giving me a ride home. I must have looked just as confused as he did, until I realized that his offer to lead the OM, was really an offer to drive me home, at which point I burst out laughing. When I finally caught my breath and explained what he had volunteered for, we both broke up laughing and through that laughter found our way “OM”.

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