I heard a sound when I first learned to meditate. Confused, I’d unplug my fingers from my eye and ear openings during meditation to check where the sound was coming from. Was I hearing something outside rumbling in the sky? A big helicopter? Was it the OM I read about? Or, was I imagining strange noises in my head?
OM, or AUM, is considered, by Hindus and Buddhists, the sacred symbol of primordial sound. “OM” is often chanted or used as a mantra to focus the mind during meditation. Six months into my yoga-meditation lessons I was given the OM Technique of meditation so I could practice listening for the AUM sound. My yoga-meditation teacher said the sound could be heard intuitively as an ocean roar.
At first the sound was a faint, distant rumble. As I listened with closed ears it got louder. Sometimes while listening to the sound my jaw vibrated and my teeth chattered. Occasionally the deep rumbling sound would change pitch. Usually though the sound just rolled on and on, pulsating relentlessly. Endlessly the sound.
Brother, Is That Sound OM?
Was this OM? Skeptical, I craved expert opinion to quell my doubts. I remembered that my local Self-Realization Fellowship Temple, which I’d recently become a member, offered spiritual counseling for students. Phoning the Temple, I made an appointment to see the Minister after Sunday Service. It would be my first private counseling with an SRF Minister-Monk.
Loitering in the Temple lobby after the Service, I nervously waited my turn to meet with the Minister-Monk. Finally, a blue-smocked young monk approached me and said, “Brother is ready to see you now”. Into the Chapel nursery door I slid and was warmly greeted by Brother Aumananda [name changed], a gray-bearded, ochre-robbed, Caucasian swami-monk. He was the head-minister of the SRF Temple.
We chatted small talk at first to get acquainted. The sage-like monk frequently closed his eyes, for a second or two between sentences, as if he was gazing into a spiritual world behind his eyelids. It was a little awkward but he demonstrated to me how he reconnected every few minutes with his inner realm. I described to the bearded Brother the booming, pulsating “helicopter” sound I heard while practicing meditation and asked, “Was this sound the OM”? Brother Aumananda immediately blurted “Yes! That’s it!”.
OM Sound Continued
During meditations in the decades that followed, I absorbed my mind intently into this OM sound. The interior “vibration” often gently shook my body in meditation. Practicing this technique, taught to me by my guru, yoga-meditation teacher, I assumed what I was hearing was something profound, special, cosmic. But always in the background of my mind I wondered.
Today I hear the “OM” sound whenever I close my ears. Sometimes with open ears, when it’s quiet. Is this the OM or AUM of the Hindus and Buddhists? After stripping away supernatural beliefs and the religious indoctrinations of my yoga-meditation teacher this “OM” is just a strange, inexplicable sound. Like a seashell held up to my ear. It makes an intriguing but mundane ocean-noise.
Questions for readers: Have you had any of these experiences? Do you think there is a sound that is really OM? Or, what natural explanation is there for those who experience the sound of “OM”?
Read my post OM: Sound of Spirit OR of Tinnitus?