The sacred Aum is a bow, the arrow is the individual self, and Absolute Reality is the target. With a tranquil heart, take aim. Lose thyself in the Absolute, even as the arrow is lost in the target. ~Mundaka Upanishad
Someone asked me yesterday what it is I love about chanting the Aum.
Here is my answer:
I love the simplicity of this practice, knowing that for an hour I’m going to immerse myself in this single sacred syllable. I don’t’ have to worry about right or wrong, there is no right or wrong. I can just relax and let my breath have its full in and out—no hurry, no rush, no pressure—the wordless inhale is just as important as the chanting exhale.
I love the first tone that arises naturally from the ocean of breath. It becomes the Ahhh sound—a big opening, like a funnel connecting me to the universe. It forms into the Ohhh—bringing the tone into form, into my body. Then it closes with the Mmmm—settling deep into my bones, into the fiber of my being. These three sounds of the Aum combined into one, are said to represent the waking life of supreme consciousness.
I love to play with my voice, to explore its full range: incredible low rumbles that come from deep down in my core and high, high notes like bird calls or singing bowls. I often feel like a singing bowl, a flute, a cello.
I love listening to and merging with the voices of others—I love the harmonies that form and dissolve, the discords that churn and resolve. I love the swell and lull of sound, the rise and fall of Aum, this ebb and flow of creation. I love the way that the other voices hold me, support me; I stop to rest and simply breathe and the Aum continues on.
I love the power of this meditation practice. When my mind wanders, I am pulled back by the repetition of the mantra, pulled back by the breath itself. I love the resonating spaciousness that happens in my brain, the sense of timelessness, the feeling of ancient presence, the feeling of myself as both ancient and present.
Finally, I love how the Aum allows me to enter into a state of deep relaxation. It’s as if the vibration has permeated every cell of my body. I love the all-encompassing expansion that I feel in my heart; the knowingness, the certain knowingness, that everything, everywhere is connected to the Absolute.