Om Symbol

Om to Penetrate and Vibrate Throughout

Om: Symbolic of Brahma creation, Siva destruction and Vishnu preservation, consisting of the same three sounds, representing waking, dreams and deep sleep, along with the following silence that is fulfillment. Om is made up of three Sanskrit letters, aa, au and ma. According to the Mandukya Upanishad, “Om is the one eternal syllable of which all that exists is but the development. The past, the present and the future are all included in this one sound, and all that exists beyond the three forms of time is also implied in it.”

There is no sense that can be made of a tragic event like the one happening in Aurora. We each have our own perspective of tragedies like this, like remembering and knowing every detail about where we were the day the Challenger exploded, hearing and seeing footage of the Oklahoma City bombing, the forever lingering detail of all the children in that federal building. For some, the sniper on the HUB Lawn at Penn State, the name Melanie Spalla forever tucked in a place of remembrance. The VA Tech Massacre, sitting on a college campus at the moment the reports spread across the country. Still being able to recreate in our minds what we were doing when the first tower fell on 911, hearing the report while showering for work, thinking OK guys, that’s really not a funny joke, even for sarcastic radio DJs. Our thoughts, feelings, reactions to the footage of the chaos in the streets, no matter where we lived in the country at the time. Waiting in shock and horror as students at Columbine walked the halls of their school, terrorizing and taking the lives of fellow classmates and teachers. Sadly, and almost in disbelief at the amount of catastrophes that have piled high upon reflection, the list just goes on and on.

The most recent is very close to home in Denver. Too close. First, waking around 6:30 a.m. to a Facebook post about a mass shooting and claims like, “let’s make an example of this wacko.” Next, reading your personal messages from family on the east coast, “I know you’re not in Aurora, but you’re OK, right?” Then, listening to the story on the radio the entire 26-mile commute to work, calling family to check on them because now everything just feels too alarming. Every station is covering the story. The gravity is there already, of course, there are many people deceased, though no one has been identified, but the fact that radio stations that don’t normally cover any sort of news were all over this one, just brought the eerie and fright closer and closer.

Watching coverage later in the evening on Friday night, it all becomes so real. What you’ve pictured: the gunman standing at the front row, firing randomly into the crowd as he allows them to escape out the doors at the top of the theater is now not the reality at all. Instead, reenactments of him walking up the aisles, moving around the whole auditorium, doing what he was doing, quickly drown the less horrific visions you’d naively hoped were the truth. The only thing that remains the same between visions is the absolute randomness and senselessness.

Now, days later, victims are being identified by name, by face, by family, by their relationships to others, who they were at the movies with, who they are married to, who they have children with, whose son or daughter they are. The nonsensicalness of the tragedy more pronounced. How can a young woman only a few short weeks ago have lived through a shooting in a mall, blog about how lucky she is to have life and each day thereafter to carry out her dreams, now be the first of twelve identified as dead? How can that be? Twice she’s in a shootout? Really? Where’s the sense in that? How does this happen?

How can two young men biking across the U.S. stop to take a much-needed break, decide to see a movie and end up in that theater? One now in the hospital, injured not from a bike spill or even from getting hit by a car on Route 70, which seems the more likely fear before beginning a cross country adventure, but instead injured by gunfire?

How does one man who works at the theater in Aurora have the night off from work, decide to celebrate his birthday that evening with a group of friends at his place of employ yet now his father desperately searches for answers as to his whereabouts rather than getting the simple joy of singing happy birthday to him? Later he’s identified as one of the fatalities, now one of many who won’t ever get to hug the friends he went to the movies with or feel lucky for dodging death.

And how does the father of one terribly, terribly sick person get to take a flight from California to DIA, sitting in an airplane for hours, mulling over how?, why?, did I play some role in my son’s actions? to arrive in Denver to say, yes, that’s my son who did this to all these people?

Where is the sense in all this?

Like so many others, I’m rattled. More than rattled, but that’s the word I’m going with in this moment. I’m not as shaken as those who have to accept that their loved one is gone, or those who play the scene over and over in their minds, thinking, it easily could have been me and not the person next to me.

Single Flame from a Candle

Resilience

The thought that keeps running through my brain is how most of those people in that theater on Friday night were with someone they care about. People go the movies alone, yes. Some people might even go alone often and prefer it that way, but, I’d guess, for most, it’s a social event. So most of those people in theater number nine had someone they cared about in there to protect, to keep from harm’s way. This is what makes my heart pulse: you have this person beside you, or persons beside you, your person, that you want to help keep alive and you will do anything to ensure that you can hug them and cry into their shoulder once you’re all safe. This is the natural human response, but there are so many other possible reactions as well: anger, fear, confusion, hatred, pain, disbelief, unacceptance, searching. If nothing else, it makes me proud that our hearts extend so wide and have the capacity to love and care and feel and even grief and contemplate. The human spirit is one of resilience and strength.

I know what I receive from the sound om, what the act incites in me and makes me feel as the vibration moves through my body, penetrates every depth of my being. Breathe Yoga invites the (yoga) community at large to sing together in a collective om at 6 p.m. on Monday evening, July 23, 2012 in honor of the victims, their families and all of us impacted by this tragedy of life.

Aubrey Brobst is a writer and editor who is mildly obsessed with yoga. When she’s not practicing it, she’s thinking about the next time she will. And whether or not she has enough time before the start of class to ride her Jaguar Shark cruiser to the studio.

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