If you have ever attended a yoga class, watched a film with yoga in it, or maybe even been to a hippie-style concert or gathering, you have probably come across the chant "OM".
Now, while we are happy to sing along at a concert or around a campfire, the idea of "chanting" turns a lot of us off from the start. And chanting in a language we don't understand? It can seem scary, daunting and downright culty. Right?
In fact, Om is not a religious chant per se, athough it is believed to have its origins in the Vedic mysticism that preceded modern Hinduism and Buddhism. The syllable Om is references the universal 'vibration' of the universe, the fibre that exists within everyone and everything, binding us all together. Om reminds us that we are one with the universe, that we are all of the same nature.
For some people this reminder is associated with divinity or with a particular divinity, but for others, myself included, it is simply an expression of one-ness, much as the act of singing or chanting together makes all of our voices one.
In Sanskrit, the syllable Om is written in 4 parts: A-U-M-and a mark symbolising the silence that follows. (A and U pronounced together make the O sound).
Repeating the syllable Om is still used by modern Buddhists as a form of meditation, and is said to calm the mind, steady the emotions, and open the way for deeper understanding of the situation you are meditating upon.
So next time it comes up in class... Give it a go!