For the most part, I think I’m a pretty open person – no secrets here. Ask me anything, and I’ll do my best to give you an honest answer. There is one question, however, that I’ve come to kind of dread.
“What does that tattoo mean?”
That question can feel intrusive enough when you have a proper answer (Who says everyone who has tattoos wants to go around explaining themselves all the time? My body, my rules, my art – mind your own beeswax!). Sometimes it’s an easy answer, like the Thai script on my right arm – it means “mai pen rai”, or “no worries”. Simple enough.
But “om”? That ain’t so easy.
More often than not when I’m asked, I end up getting awkward, mumbling a few words about consciousness, and trying to change the subject. And I always feel like an idiot. I mean, who has a tattoo they can’t even explain??
Yeah, you’ve seen the symbol, all artsy and spiritual-feeling, on the walls of yoga studios or on pretty little tapestries. You’ve heard (or made fun of) the typical yogi chant of “ommmmmmmmmm” at the beginning of class. But what’s all this about?
If you wanna get technical, om is “the all encompassing cosmic vibration, consciousness, and sound of the entire universe.”
In real-people words? Om is the past, the present, the future. It is the whole world, coming together, to become one. When we chant om as a group, it unites us as one harmony, here, together, right now in this big ol’ universe. A Youtube yogi I love, Adrienne, uses a phrase in her classes that I think sums it up quite nicely:
“Give yourself permission to be here, now.”
Too much of the time, our minds are at an altogether difference place than our physical bodies. I know I’m terrible for it – zoning out and thinking about something I have to do later on in the day, or rehashing a conversation I had earlier that morning. Whatever’s going on around me in that actual moment is totally lost. I cringe to think about how many moments in my life I’ve breezed through without appreciating because I was too preoccupied with crap in my brain!
For me, it’s another reason I appreciate yoga. My yoga mat is the place I find it easiest to be mindful. I’ve said it before – I’m a clumsy person. If I’m practicing a new, challenging pose, there’s no way I’ll ever get it if I’m zoned out wondering what’s for dinner later. I’ve got to be 100% there, on my mat, in the moment. That focus, that mindfulness – I need to bring it to my life off the yoga mat as well. I, and I think most of us, need to be a little more present in our everyday lives.
So my om tattoo is a reminder for me of that. I got the tattoo somewhat on a whim, but it still holds a lot of meaning to me. Be. Here. Now. Stop overthinking for one goddamn minute and take in the wonder of what’s actually around you. You only get one “now” at a time – be there! Take life one moment at a time, and enjoy it.
I still probably don’t have a decent answer if someone asks me what the little symbol on my wrist means. I suppose I could use it as an excuse to promote the blog a little? LOL. Whatever, I’m not gonna worry about it, and I’m not gonna let myself feel silly about it.
Mai pen rai, right?