• Susan Parsley

Coming Om for the Holidays

Understanding the power of Om

Coming Om for the holidays

Often Holiday time can be very challenging for many of us, with feelings of loneliness and separation compounded. A wonderful way to combat that  feeling is by learning the value of, and practicing in the ancient art of chanting and learning the meaning of “om”

When I first began practicing yoga, the word Om was almost blasphemous to me. As people sat in rooms chanting it and humming it, I would often find myself pursing my lips shut, or giggling as if it were a foreign language. I was certain, that I would never be one of those “weird people” who would chant those ancient words or sit amidst groups humming.

I however found myself strangely drawn to the physical practice of yoga itself, so naturally I was exposed to the words and the humming, more often than not.

While clenching my lips shut one afternoon in a yoga workshop, the teacher leading the practice, certainly noticed that I was not chanting. I thought he was going to comment, but a simple smile appeared over lips and he chuckled at me.

Later that day, I went to meet with the teacher and to go over what I had been learning so far in my journey, and true to form, he immediately called me out for my lack of chanting. I went through my proverbial, “ I am a Catholic and I just don't want to do anything against my church speech”, and he listened intently. By the end of our session, not only my yoga practice but,  my goals for teaching changed as a result of what happened next.

This teacher sat me down and asked me to close my eyes and just sit for a moment  I did. He asked me to imagine that I was on an island all  alone in the universe, and questioned me, Had I ever felt really alone?  Nothing else there? No birds?, No humans ? No sound?  No love? No connection?... as I settled in with eyes closed, I realized,  that I knew that feeling all too well and a wave of sadness washed over me as I sat there quietly. The quiet seemed to last forever, and I almost felt like he too had left the room and abandoned me.

After what seemed like an hour, I heard his voice softly say, As you feel alone, I now want you to you to imagine that in the air you hear a soft voice, a sweet hum of another human being in the distant , and in that split second, you have  realized,  that no matter whom that voice  is attached  to, that you are NOT alone. That sound, that hum is a vibration , a celebration, that we are all connected, and when you hum alone it creates one sound, but when you join your voice with others, it creates a unique sound, a single representation of everyone chanting it, and it can never be duplicated.

There is so much more to learn about the word Om. It is sometimes spelled Aum, and often when spoken, it can sound like Amen.  Depending on what you read, it can mean, heaven, earth and sky, or past ,present and future. I have heard it defined as “the sound of your soul within  you”,  or as “the vibration of the universe”. Each definition bears listening to and inspecting into further detail. But the end result can be the same. When you hear it, when you hum it, you are touching something bigger

So if you are  feeling  alone in that emptiness  that can surround us even more through the holiday season. If you find yourself feeling a bit down, or feeling disconnect… go ahead and join us in  class… come OM!

Sue Parsley

CMCB Wellness Director

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