Thank you OM Yoga and Lifestyle magazine (UK) for publishing my 72nd YogaInspirational, “Traveling OM,” December, 2018
By Dr. Gregory Ormson
THE POWER OF OM: rediscovering the deep, abiding peace of coming home in a frantic world.
“We are stardust, we are golden, we are billion-year old carbon…” Lyrics from the song Woodstock suggest that we are made of cosmic energy and matter. We have a hard time believing it because there are very few places that affirm such a grandiose and luminous being. But when we yoga, we participate in a pattern that moves the stars, and positions us to touch an inner OM at the core of our being.
In a soft chant of OM, rooted and expressed from the core, our cares are set free. Then we note our deepest truth: we are beings at one with a divinely animated critical mass of stardust and carbon waiting to meet and welcome us home.
But cultural voices bombard us with an unending cacophony of negativity and dismissal. This poisonous milieu is designed to make us feel small and inadequate, serving us from a menu of strife and anxiety. News and current events can leave us feeling like we’re a nonsignificant cog in a great drama that’s happening elsewhere.
The world is effective at labeling and objectifying. It does so with convenient categories submitted for fast indexing and stereotyping: age, race, sex, job, income, and education level. But a mountain is more than a geode, a river more than an eddy, men and women more than insignificant pieces of something more important.
A central cultural narrative tells us that our happiness depends on our reach, grasp, and hard work to get ahead; but many of us discover that when we grasp for more, or comply with outer directives, we fall out of alignment with ourselves. We’ve forgotten that at the center we are stardust and golden children imbued with cosmic energy and force.
It’s easy to be caught up in the propaganda machine that tells us we must pay attention to outer things as a way to get ahead in life’s journey. But yoga provides us with a road map that is singular in its direction. It takes us to the inner-OM, where a direct relationship with self is the magnetic center leading to wholeness. Early traditions of yoga named this place of intimate connection, “primordial consciousness.”
The quicker we begin our living and stop reaching or grasping for some artificial cipher of happiness, the quicker we lean into our experiential moments, and let our minds rest in those moments. Then we learn to ignore the critical disassembly shaping our cultural dialogue and our psyche.
“All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players,” Shakespeare wrote, but there’s no play more important than the one in which we participate. The play’s the thing for all of us, and our stake in the drama of life is important enough for us to choose our own form of risk. It’s also important enough to experience our play from the inside, here and now, rather than get caught up in someone else’s disconcerting storyline.
This need not be a problem for yogis. Most of us realize that our freedom and joy took flight when we traded our truest self for compliance with the machine and its false narrative that we are not good enough. From childhood to adulthood it happened so seamlessly and easily that we didn’t even notice how we’d lost our spontaneous, joyful living in the moment.
Yoga gives us a chance to find this by focusing attention on the inner OM. It’s not a new idea, Russill Paul wrote in The Yoga of Sound, “Meditation on the OM offers us the direct awareness that everything in the universe is held in existence by the Divine breath.” In the moment of OM, divine breath pauses our strategic and analytical brain while firing the existential and experiential brain.
Creating the sound of OM and meditating on its meaning invites us to experience this divine breath that the Hebrews called ruah, the Greeks pneuma, and the yogis call prana. If we give ourselves time and space for the simple chant of OM, we may discover that the only thing missing from ourselves has been us.
Yoga postures take us to the core of our being – the only place where we may find true peace and contentment – and yoga counsels us to move there in firmness and ease while teaching us to be present in each moment’s experience.
There, in the great quieting and stilling of mind and body, we come face to face with a golden child. In the chant of OM, we step away from distractions and make a countercultural move away from the machine of disassembly.
The directions are clear: first, we slow down and breathe; then we focus attention and hold our minds steady with a concentrated gaze; finally, at the end of a beautiful hour, our body chants a sonorous OM.
It’s the OM of creation’s soul, the home to which our internal compass points, the unstuck sound of the heart, and the primordial consciousness in which we participate.
This luminous and internal state of OM, the meditative point of deep consciousness, brings us to the realization that the inner OM is a well-trod path providing yogis something the broken world cannot: the deep, abiding peace of coming home.
NOTE: This issue is available online. Contents include OM’s 5th installment of their 5 Part History of Yoga in the West. I recommend it. It also highlights the life and work of B.K.S. Iyengar as part of the commemoration of his birth 100 years ago on December, 14, 1918. Coincidently, his daughter Geeta Iyengar, a yoga teacher credited with opening yoga to women in India and advancing women’s health, passed away yesterday, December, 16, 2018.
Paul, R. The yoga of sound: Healing & enlightenment through the sacred practice of mantra. New World Library, Novato, CA: (2004), p. 179-181
Bio: Dr. Ormson saw yoga during his first trip to India 40 years ago. He teaches at MOTTO YOGA in Queen Creek, Arizona, and “Yoga and Leather,” yoga for bikers at Superstition Harley Davidson in Apache Junction, Arizona. Ormson’s writing on yoga is published in 12 national and international journals, magazines, blogs and Web sites under #motorcyclingyogiG