Saturday, November 24, 2007

OM Circle, week 3

(from a couple of weeks ago, just finished the write up)

OM Circle, week 3

Three regulars, two new participants and me. Six of us, sitting on the floor of a yoga studio’s office/storageroom/teacher-drop-your-stuff-off room. A makeshift altar with a couple of Buddhas, a flower and several pictures of gurus. Someone has placed a food offering before the images.

With brief instructions, we begin chanting OM. Harmonics fluctuate, thirds, minor and major, parallel fourths, but more seconds, the disharmony harmonizing. As I chamber my mouth and throat, sound is created in me. I vibrate. At first, just at my larynx. With a slight shift of my soft palate, the vibration shifts into my chest cavity. A mouth shape change, and the vibration shifts into my mask and skull. As each of my OMs fades into its own silence, it also fades into someone else’s OM – a cycle of death into life that ties us all into one. A person across from me intones a base note, just as I find my voice moving from a groan into a major third. His tone meshes and reshapes my own, inside my throat, and instead of singing one note, both blend at their source, and I cannot distinguish my own sound from his, from ours. After some period of time (I lose track during these exercises), someone taps me on the knee – the signal for me to move to the center of the circle for a time. I sit on a block in virasana. I’m bathed in sounds from others. Briefly, emotional response arises, then, though when I notice it, I half-intend to sustain it, it subsides. The interruption to my chant declines, and I resume. I find for several minutes that the vibration of the chant has moved into my arms and hands. I position them above my thighs, allowing them to vibrate in space. Another tap on the knee, and my time in the center is done. I shift back to the circle, another enters. I shape my sound to bathe her in tone. As different intonations run hoarse, I find another level to work. Then the leader says, softly, “last,” and I exhale the final OM across my larynx, up into my sinues, against the facial skeleton, into the chambers of my throat and mouth, and into the room, into silence.

From the inside, my hands are energy, their fields of perception extending beyond my skin. Unbounded. I rest them on my thighs. My mind strongly shifts to manifest a Ponderosa pine. “A Ponderosa?” I wonder. “Strange familiar.” The wordplay is opaque to me at the time. I think of inhaling the butterscotch scent of a Ponderosa’s bark in the heat of the sun.

Though we call it an OM circle, and though it is structured as an exercise of puja, we are largely engaged in the third, fourth and sixth limbs of the eight-limbed path of yoga: asana or posture, pranayama or breath control, and dharana or concentration. Each practice has its own characteristics that distinguish it from the others. The first night, it was the marked lightness I associated with a high. The second, it was the bright and clear dreams and the carried-through of concentration. Today it is the energy fields around my hands and, evidenced by this write-up, an unexpected energy that seems to have dispelled sleep, for now at any rate.