The Holy Syllable

I’m in Austin at an Anniversary celebration for a friend’s school, and yesterday I participated in a meditation circle to honor a woman who recently died.  Peg dedicated her life to empowering women, and I was honored to participate.  I did not know her personally, and the form of meditation was not one that I have ever done before.  It was a chanting meditation, and utilized the Sanskrit word, Om, which can be translated as “I am.”  I have always had an interest in this Holy Syllable, to which Indian mystics and others have long attributed a kind of universal significance.

The chanting was musical – the woman leading the circle started it off at a somewhat low, easy pitch for a female register, but it was still a somewhat high pitch for me.  I was unclear about whether I needed to match the pitch of the chant.  The goal is to create vibrations in the body in certain spots as the different parts of the syllable are made, so the pitch did seem significant.  One other male in the circle went an octave down, but that was not comfortable for me either.

Meditation is supposed to be a mindful, all-consuming practice, but for my part the pitch particulars kept me from participating very mindfully.  I did consider the people in the circle, some of whom I know well, and their relationships with the woman who passed.

I think that my experience in that circle will always color my understanding of resonance.  As I continue to improve my ability to be in tune on the violin I’m learning that listening for the resonance in the instrument caused by an in-tune note impacting another string on the instrument is a good way to know you’ve got the right spot.  Teacher sometimes calls it “ringing.”

After the meditation, people who knew Peg shared stories about her.  It was a moving tribute.

Thanks for reading.


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