Aum Diaries 3

Aum… Aum… Aum…

What is it about this sound?  Is it supposed to be AUM or Ohmmmm?

Looks like a 30 with eyebrow problems.I’m a big believer in the A-U-M variety.

In fact, who cares what sound you make  Just make something.  It sounds good no matter how you say it.

I’m going through BKS Iynegar’s book called Light on Yoga.

In his AUM section there’s a story at the end, one of those zennish type stories.  It goes like this:

Taking as a bow the great weapon of the Upanisad, one should put upon it an arrow sharpened by meditation.  Stretching it with a thought directed to the essence of That, penetrate the Imperishable as the ark, my friend.  The mystic syllable AUM is the bow.  The arrow is the Self (Atma).  Brahman is the target.  By the undistracted man is It penetrated.  One should come to be in It, as the arrow in the mark.

Any ideas, class?

So, I’m not exactly sure what it’s all supposed to mean, but it sounds cool and I’m going to let it stand.  Love to hear your opinions.

Now go make some noise.

Aum.

 

 

 

Aum Diaries 2

Aum… Aum… Aum…

Have you tried a yoga class where they make you do an AUM?

Or does it go Ohmmmm?

Looks like a 30 with eyebrow problems.I’m a big believer in the A-U-M variety.

Maybe someday there will be a war over how to pronounce it.

At the moment, I’m not going to care..  It sounds good no matter how you say it.

I’m going through BKS Iynegar’s book called Light on Yoga.

In his AUM section there’s all sorts of triads that the three letters are supposed to represent.  That’s nice, and I’m not going to make a big deal out of it.

But there’s also something big that each triad represents.  You can go to the last post for the triads.  Here I’m just jotting down the big stuff.  Here’s the triads:

  1. speech, mind, and breath, or
  2. length, breadth and depth, or
  3. absence of desire, fear, and anger, or
  4. masculine, feminine, and neuter, or
  5. sattva, rajas, and tamas, or
  6. past, present, and future, or
  7. teachings of mother, father, and Guru,
  8. or asana, pranayama, and pratyahara, or
  9. Creator, Maintainer, and Destroyer, or
  10. the mantra Tat Twam Asi meaning “That Thou Art”

Now, here’s the big stuff:

  1. All Conscious States, (very similar to number 9)
  2. Living Spirit,
  3. Divinity,
  4. Perfect (Hu)Man
  5. Creation
  6. Gunatitas
  7. Creator,
  8. Self Knowledge,
  9. Samadhi, (very similar to number 1)
  10. Brahman,
  11. Realization of Self Divinity

That seems like quite a bit to load onto a single sound, doesn’t it?

It’s still just a sound.

Let’s focus.

Aum.

 

 

 

 

Aum Diaries

Aum… Aum… Aum…

Have you tried a yoga class where they make you do an AUM?

Maybe your teacher does OM instead?

Looks like a 30 with eyebrow problems.Does it feel weird?

It did for me as well.  I got over it.

There’s this guy, BKS Iynegar, who wrote this book, called Light on Yoga.  He was kind of cool, and the book is kind of cool.  But this isn’t about him.  It’s about what he says about Aum.

His AUM section starts out saying that in order to unlock the divinity within yourself you need concentration.  Totally agree.  Here’s a quote from page 49 in my version.  “To achieve this concentration, what is recommended is eka-tattva-abhyasa or study of the single element that pervades all…”  I like this.  He finishes the paragraph saying that the sadhaka concentrates upon AUM, which is his symbol, to achieve ekagrata.

Now, I’m not sure of all the intricacies here, but basically it’s saying AUM is important.

Page 50 starts off by saying AUM and the latin word OMNI have the same root.  I don’t know if it’s true, but it sounds good.  He says that both words mean omniscience, omnipresence and omnipotence.  I’ll buy that.

My favorite part is this, a dissection of the how the word is pronounced.

It has three syllables, namely A, U, and M.

They can symbolize all sorts of things, like:

  1. Waking state, Dream state, and Dreamless states, or
  2. speech, mind, and breath, or
  3. length, breadth and depth, or
  4. absence of desire, fear, and anger, or
  5. masculine, feminine, and neuter, or
  6. sattva, rajas, and tamas, or
  7. past, present, and future, or
  8. teachings of mother, father, and Guru,
  9. or asana, pranayama, and pratyahara, or
  10. Creator, Maintainer, and Destroyer, or
  11. the mantra Tat Twam Asi meaning “That Thou Art”

That seems like quite a bit to load onto a single sound, doesn’t it?

Maybe it’s just a sound.

Let’s focus.

Aum.

 

 

 

 

Om – not just a pretty sound

Om.

As a semi-macho guy, I didn’t take easily to yoga in general.  Believe it or not, the two hardest things for me to digest were the 5 minute rest at the end of my class (savasana), and chanting the occasional om at the beginning or the end.

Lucky for me, my yogini was fantastic, enthusiastic, knowledgeable, and patient.  She taught me not to grunt.  She pointed out the importance of really resting after practice, instead of bolting up and out to get back to work.  And finally, very discreetly, showed me the way to enjoying om.

The chanting of om is highly varied between teachers, classes, and even styles.  What I’ve learned however is that it helps frame the class – giving it a beginning and end.  It helps unify your class, even if you don’t utter a sound.  And it helps break the ice, as it were.

There are many spiritual aspects to om.  You can liken it to the sound that created the universe, sort of a big bang.  For those who appreciate physics, it could represent the cosmic background radiation.  Or perhaps it represents the resonant frequencies left over from that cataclysm that created everything we know.

Joseph Campbell, that genius of myth, enjoyed saying om because it contained every vowel known to man.  It resonated through time for him, unifying past with present with future.

Then there’s me, semi-macho man.  When it comes to spirituality, I’m not buying.  The fact that my main yogini has a voice that melts butter and makes even the lowly om sound like opera is a good reason to be interested, but to actually say it?  Worse yet, how is it that I’ve even come to enjoy it?

Let’s get functional.  When you say om, you’re vibrating your body.  Vocal cords, larynx, trachea, lungs, sinuses, the works.  If you say it like Joe Campbell, starting with ahhh, moving through om, and finishing on a closed mouth “mmm” you in fact go through a wide range of frequencies and resonating configurations within your own body.  And why is that good?

You shake things up.  It’s a good, clean way to warm up your body without moving major muscles.  You loosen up the old nose.  You breath a bit easier.  You listen to both the om on the outside, and how it echoes inside.  You can hear it in your ears, your nose, your lungs, and even in your gut.  It’s a nice way to give yourself a sonogram, without having to fill out insurance forms.

You do it at the beginning of class, and it helps you start.  Do it at the end of class as well, and now you have before and after notes that you can compare.  And that’s what yoga is all about.  You.  You and your body.  Yoga means coming together, and the lowly, un-macho sound of om is what brings both outside and inside together with minimal effort.

So the next time you’re stuck in a spiritual class where om is spoken, relax and enjoy the ride.  It’s just another pose, but one that reaches farther inside than you realize.

AUM…