Community in Sound

This morning in class after we chanted OM ~ and the class is becoming less self-conscious and more vibrational as they grow accustomed to chanting ~ a student remarked how “good we sounded” as we had reached that exquisite blending of voices ~ that community of OMs.The experience reminded him of the Virtual Choir he’d seen on You Tube.  Eric Whitacre, the composer and conductor speaks in the following TED video of what the process of group singing meant to him. He said that the first time he sang in a choir he realized that he was part of something bigger than himself.

In yoga, we’d say that we ARE something bigger than our conception of our individual selves. This is the beauty of chanting before class. We acknowledge and surrender to that energy, that grace, that love.

It is from that space that we twist and turn ourselves in the poses and that we sit quietly in breath work or in meditation or savasana. This is true whether we have chanted in a hall with hundreds of yogis or if we chant silently to ourselves while practicing. This is the sound of the universe. Of the primal energy that flows everywhere. The vibration that is.

In class at Panterra on Tuesday night, we were fortunate to have sitar player, Justin Scarimbola strumming his instrument while we fell deeply into savasana. As one note fell away, another appeared, then another and another. The evening raga grew a little “on edge” as daylight was fading to dusk and the notes picked up steam, coming faster, more insistent and then sliding back into quietude. The music took my mind along on its journey. Afterwards, I felt that somehow, I saw the world a bit differently. Time and space shifting in their tides just as the Indian raga grew louder, softer, faster, slower, smoother, rougher.

Today is windy and hot. Yesterday was hot and still. It’s all labile, change, flux, even when it seems to be static. Do not stay stuck, the music, the chanting, like our practice tell us.

We are capable of so much more love than we realize.

MANTRA for today: May I open to unknown capabilities within myself today.

Ringing, Chanting om

It’s ironic that at a workshop titled Inner and Outer Strength, chanting made the strongest impression. Well, maybe not; maybe the hard asana work prepared the channels and enabled an opening as never heretofore experienced? Chanting does require inner strength of the vocal chords and deep release of the diaphragm.

In the white studio, thirty voices intoned OM in thirty different intonations. I, too, opened my mouth and a sound welled from deep in my torso. Gradually it grew louder and pitched higher as I traveled with it:

A – O – U – M.

Up from the belly, into the solar plexus, through the heart center, rising in the throat, finally vibrating between my eyebrows. Then a deep inbreath, opening my mouth – and as I find the deep inner place from which om begins – the sound is released, flying into the flock of oms in the room. Some large and deep, some resonant and harmonic, some high and sweet. All one energy.

Over and over the oms played louder, softer, faster, deeper. Over and over I let them go; I let sound happen through me as if releasing a long pent-up voice.

chautauqua secret garden bridge

The primordial voice that existed before “I” was, before the universe existed rang outward and inward. Becoming transparent to sound, I tried to hold it, though it never stayed. Without my thinking or expecting, the energy carried me across another bridge.

Eventually there were no more students, or teachers, or moms, professors, midwives, writers, bloggers, musicians, Techies, yogis, gardeners, poets, grammas. The sound erased personas as each voice moved on its own, emanating from ever-deepening channels within.

The vibration filled the room. I was aware of it and not aware of it. Eventually there were no individuals at all. Just sound. A flight of harmonics and energy. There was nothing to do, just keep sounding OOOOooooommmmm.

Like a lover after the fact, the chant eventually would wind down – the vibration still there, though softer. I opened my mouth to receive the sensation which became a fine humming – a string vibrating inside me and in the room. Then the sound was no longer present; sound gave way to silence and I became aware of a vibrant ringing, maybe my body was rocking, but I am not sure. Waves of energy throbbed and passed through me. All was vibration and nothing else. My body had become a bell and in all directions there was ringing.

Panterra garden buddha

Existence made sense. There was no denying that I was alive and that being alive equaled this bliss.