Ethereal Corner: What is Om?

Gabi Favazza, Mystic Columnist


Happy Thanksgiving, Pipers! This coming holiday, indulge in bountiful harvest, warm relationships and relaxation. As finals will soon be upon us, think of this weekend as an opportunity for full rejuvenation of body and mind.

What is “Om” ? 

Recently the Om symbol has gained popularity in fashion and can be seen all around us. But what exactly is the meaning behind this symbol?

The Om Symbol, also written “Aum,” has a few meanings and originated within the Hindu religion. The symbol Om refers to both a concept and a sound, or what we would call an onomatopoeia. Traditionally this sound is released by the human body as an incantation prior to prayer. The word Om is written in many different ways but is interpreted similarly to “I” or “I want.” This peaceful sound is often used during yogic practice as a symbolic action representing harmony in the universe within oneself. This symbol was adopted and appropriated later by religions which stemmed from Hinduism, such as Jainism, Buddhism and Sikhism. The sound tends to be used in meditation practices, and is rarely used outside of spiritual contexts. Om is also said to be the sound of the universe, and harmony between all things. Whilst uttering Om, one experiences a physical vibration said to create a link between the ever-present cosmic vibrations of the universe, uttering this phrase with sincerity may aid meditation in those who find it difficult to achieve. 

Should we wear “Om”? 

So long as you are aware of what you are representing. Om is a symbol and concept which can be applicable and appreciated by anyone regardless of race, religion, social orientation, etc. The Hindu community does not see the use of Om by non-Hindus as appropriation as it is a universal symbol, merely introduced by their community; however, in accordance with Hindu tradition, avoid wearing, tattooing, or in any way displaying “Om” near the feet or lower legs as they are often dirty, and be sure to represent it in its true form.

3 Ways to Rejuvenate this weekend

Try yoga or meditation for at least 20 minutes per day. In past articles (and this one) I have outlined some simple and relaxing yoga practices—these poses and sequences can do wonders for the body and mind. Give yourself some quiet time to dive into a relaxing state of mind and stretch your body. Help combat the gloom outside by taking care of your body.

Cleanse your body. By eating processed foods, your body may be neglected of essential nutrients and fresh foods. After this weekend’s feast, try indulging in mainly whole foods, fruits and vegetables. It might not seem appealing at first, and may be hard to accomplish,but give it a shot and your body will thank you in the long run. Try drinking three glasses of herbal tea per day instead of caffeine or sugary drinks, and shoot for at least six glasses of water.

Get real rest. In earlier editions of this column you can find tips and suggestions for relaxation and getting rest. As finals are approaching and you become busier than usual, make sure you are getting rest, going to bed free of distractions and getting at least eight hours. Getting rest is not only healthy for your body and mind, it will prepare you for the weeks ahead and will allow you to be more focused and less overwhelmed. Never underestimate the power of a good night’s sleep!

Peaceful Physicality

Open to Relaxation

Give yourself at least five minutes in a relatively quiet environment to truly relax in this yogic position. Below are some suggestions for meditation music and relaxing sounds.

Lay on your back on a flat surface such as a carpeted floor. If needed, a small pillow under your head may be used to support your neck and align your spine, but not so much that your head is lifted above your chest.

Keeping your knees together, bend them so that your feet are planted parallel on the ground.

Rest your arms slightly outward from your sides, palms upward, feel your chest open.

Gently open your knees outward like butterfly wings, press the soles of your feet together and allow the natural force of gravity pull your knees closer to the ground.

Stay in this position, focus on your breathing and on each exhale, press your knees further down, opening your hips.

Relax here for as long as you like, feel your chest and hips stretch and open, releasing the day’s built up tension.

When you feel you are finished, slowly relieve yourself the position and thank yourself for taking time to take care of your body and engage your mind in healthy relaxation.