I’ve taken guided meditation classes in the past, and although I no longer go, I do still meditate. Probably not as often as I should, but I do from time to time. And I keep promising myself that I’ll do it every day. So I am very familiar with the sound, the intonation of Om. I find it very soothing, and comforting. I also like the look of the sacred symbol, itself. So I decided, when I went to India, that I would look for one I could wear on a chain or ribbon, around my neck.
From the moment I bought it, I never took it off, even to sleep. Or shower. Then, about six months ago, I felt like my neck was always irritated. And sure enough, when I looked closely with a magnifying mirror, there was some redness around where the chain sits. I bought another chain. Same thing happened. So I took it off before going to bed, thinking that maybe when I moved in my sleep, the chain rubbed against my skin. Sure enough, the rash disappeared after several days. At first I’d put it back on every morning. And then, days would go by and I’d forget to put it on. And eventually it just stayed in my bedside table drawer.
To be honest, I missed it in the beginning. It felt strange, like something that had been protecting me was gone. Sort of how you feel if you drive without a seat belt. But then time passed and I forgot about it.
Until the other day. Life has been a bit stressful, lately. Not life threatening. Not life altering. But not smooth sailing, either. I’ve felt it. And I’ve been carrying it around with me, which is unusual. Wearing it, like an extra layer of clothing. An unnecessary layer of clothing. Which, actually, is stressful, in itself. So back to the other day. I woke up and my first thought was:
Where’s my Om?
The inside of the drawer where I’d put it, had become a bit of a mess (and yes, I did hear my mother sigh). So I had to rummage through papers and little boxes and packets of tissues and other jewelry, but I finally found it, all tangled up in some long, dangly earrings. I felt a sense of relief the minute I had it in my hand. And once it was on again, back around my neck, I instantly felt protected again. Calmer and more peaceful.
“She’s nuts”, you’re saying. Well, maybe I am. But maybe, I’m not. Back to Google I went. Here’s just some of what I found:
Om, or Aum, is of paramount importance in Hinduism. It is a sacred symbol representing Brahman, the impersonal Absolute of Hinduism — omnipotent, omnipresent, and the source of all manifest existence. Om is in use daily. The Hindus begin their day or any work or journey by uttering Om. According to the Mandukya Upanishad, “Om is the one eternal syllable of which all that exists is but the development. The past, the present, and the future are all included in this one sound, and all that exists beyond the three forms of time is also implied in it.”
Om is not a word, but rather an intonation. It is a mantra, or prayer in itself. If repeated with the correct intonation it can resonate throughout the body so that the sound penetrates to the centre of one’s being the atman or soul. There is harmony, peace and bliss in this simple, but deeply philosophical sound. On one hand, Om projects the mind beyond the immediate to what is abstract and inexpressible. On the other hand, it makes the absolute more tangible and comprehensive. It encompasses all potentialities and possibilities; it is everything that was, is, or can yet be.
During meditation, when we reach the state of trance it is a moment when the petty worldly affairs are lost in the desire for the universal. Such is the immeasurable power of Om.
And it makes me feel better. Rash around my neck or not, I won’t be taking it off again.