It’s no secret that singing raises the spirit. In fact, when we are happy we say, “My heart sings with joy.” That is I believe what we are all seeking. Often, we come to yoga because we are in pain and we can’t hear the song of our heart .
It is said that the word “Om” or “A U M” not only symbolizes but actually is the Brahman (the Absolute Being), “I am the Creator, the womb of the world.” Om is the bija mantra seated in the heart. There we are reborn in this world, in this lifetime, in this body not through any external savior but from the deep, sacred silence of being. B.K.S. Iyengar in Light on Yoga writes, “The letter A symbolizes the conscious or waking state, the letter U the dream state, and the letter M the dreamless sleep state of the mind and spirit.”
That may very well be but I believe that we can find our own meaning in the sounds themselves. Introducing the mantra to a wary group I was inspired to ask when you say ‘A’ what does it mean to you? This group was Italian and responded with “meriviglia, stuppore … marvel,astonishment”. ‘U’ brought out sorpresa, piacere- surprise and pleasure. ‘M’ and I admit that here I “M .. M..MMd” and heard buono, as in something yummy. It also brought forth smiles and one person said, why there’s a whole world in that. So, if we reflect on these three sounds we may find a whole universe of meaning of our own. It is one thing to chant om it is quite another to listen to it rise up from the deepest part of our soul.
“A – the birth, U – the coming into being, M – the dissolution and then silence out of which it comes, and back into which it goes, and which underlies it. Now my life is the A-U-M but there is a silence that underlies it that is what we call the immortal.” (Joseph Campbell)
“The creator made a statue of clay and asked the soul to enter into it: But the soul refused to be imprisoned, for its nature is to fly about freely and not to be limited and bound to any sort of capacity. The soul did not wish in the least to enter this prison. Then the Creator asked the angels to sing and play their music and as they played the soul was moved to ecstasy. In order to make the music more clear to itself, it entered the body … In reality the soul itself was the song.” (Hafiz, Sufi poet)
One way of focusing is to feel the “A” in your belly, connect to the “U” in your heart and the “M” rising to the crown . In the silence it returns to the source. Sing along if you like or just listen as your heart sings in celebration of the world which we are creating, and which is born and reborn with every breath.