OM, SAY WHAT?
We’ve all heard this term by now, but what does Om really mean? Does it even mean anything?
As yoga has made a serious move into our cities, many of the yoga world’s norms have become “straight-up-normal”. What was once considered weird is now as chill (or not chill) as Sunday brunch. A lot of us don’t really know why we do it, it just feels so good.
The inner ankle or wrist OM symbol tattoo took over for the Chinese character tattoo. It might not be clear to everyone (including the person with the tattoo) what the symbol truly meant, but it definitely suggested you were of a certain “state of mind”.
In our words, OM is the vibrational sound created from oneself to match the vibrational quality of the universe (whoa). Or, in a more immediate sense, to match the vibrational quality of one’s surrounding or environment including the people around them. It is the sound that brings you back to the start, meaning the place that could exist before all the mental chatter or afflictions. It’s a reset button of sorts.
But how would you know if you are creating the sound that matches the “vibrational quality of the universe”!?
The assumption is that every living thing is moving and functioning on a similar energy. At it’s core, this energy is not induced by any foreign factors like caffeine, race or economic status. It’s the underlying movement in all of us that draws us towards each other and sometimes away from one another.
Ultimately, the goal is to protect this energy source. Some people call it the “life force”. That could lead us into a much larger conversation, so for now we will keep it simple and say, “energy”. The movement of this energy - it’s free will to travel organically - directly affects our harmony with the rest of the world.
The idea behind yoga, breath work and chanting OM is to feed and nurture that energy which is in us to rightly affect that which is outside of us.
Class time. The OM comes at the beginning and then again at the end. It’s the moment that makes no sense your first time…maybe you don’t even participate, because what if your OM sounds different from theirs! Maybe a judgy thought or two pass through your mind while everyone else is “omming” away.
BUT….somewhere in there something feels good. Even for a split second there is a peace in it.
You go back to class. Maybe you don’t participate again, but you look forward to it. Really what you are looking forward to is the time. The space that is offered in returning for even a short moment back to the start.
“The power of the internal sound, its meaning as an audible designation of our personality, is a thousand times stronger than the logical combination of the sounds of letters which has really no meaning at all. The pronouncing of the name-word is purely inner sound” -translation from the Hatha Yoga Pradipika by Swami Svatmarama