The Silence of the Fourth Syllable
Updated: Sep 17, 2020
Since the pandemic, to avoid causing extra mouth opening for my students, I haven't been chanting Om in our group practice. I miss it. Since my very first yoga experience, long ago, I have been captivated, humbled and elevated by the mystery and beauty of voices vibrating together over the journey of the mantra.
Recently I drove to a park I'd never been to for a hike through the woods near the lake. As a human I had it to myself, though the deer were all around, a subtle presence in the afternoon heat. Majestic waterbirds punctuated the muddy shore.
It was hot and muggy and I was feeling fuzzy-headed and a little out of sorts, despite my relief at finding solitude. After breathing deeply, centering myself, I put out a long, deep, four-syllable OM. A-U-M-silence.
In that silence, transformation. As if a wainscot of moths had fluttered off my forehead, I felt clarity. The air around me sharpened, the forest sounds grew crisper. My footfalls were less trudging, more gallant.
Imagine the sound of OM like the ripples of a pebble landing in water. Sometimes the water was still before the event of the pebble, sometimes not; always there are ripples; always the ripples come to an end. Is the silence at the end of OM the subtlest of the final ripples, or the space just after the ripples have completely run their course? If there is an effect after the motion has ended, has the course truly been run, or is the stillness part of the event?