My Om Tattoo

Tattoo number two is a done deal. It’s a simple black Om, on my inner right forearm. (The other one is on the inside of my left ankle; it’s a yin-yang-ish version of my zodiac sign, Cancer.) It took the guy 10 minutes, and the pain was completely bearable. We had a nice chat, and I even watched him put the ink in.

It looks gorgeous.

I felt kind of badass.

My lovely friend Miriam came with me, and we had lunch, a great walk around Montclair, and a browse around a used bookstore, too. Om, indeed.

Om (or Aum) is a sacred and mystical syllable in Indian religions. It is very often the first word of Hindu texts, because it’s an incantation to be intoned before (and after) a reading. It’s considered the name of God, or — and I love this — the vibration of the Supreme.

Om is the sound you chant at the beginning and end of yoga class. It’s a mantra. When everyone’s in sync, it sounds like a beautiful harmonic.

One of the things I really love about Om is the idea that it is “the primordial hum of the universe.” It’s the sound in the background, the constant buzz of life. I love that in a spiritual way, because for a long time I’ve considered God to be the higher order in the universe. The utter elegance of mathematics, all the symmetry in nature, and even the way analogies work in words are all proof to me that the universe is ordered on some level. That there’s a diffusion of spirit that keeps things going. Whether or not it has a consciousness, I have no idea, but it doesn’t matter to me. I like to think of it as disembodied, actually, as energy. And Om is the sound it makes.

For a while I was hesitant to get an Om tattoo. I wondered, is it kind of cliché? But then I started to think about it the way I think of my older daughter’s name. Kate is a very popular name, but I love it, and I’ve always loved it, and there was no question in my mind once we found out that she was a girl that it would be her name. Everyone else could have named their kid Kate too, and I’d still have chosen it. I didn’t get an Om just because I’m into yoga now. It really speaks to what I’ve believed for most of my life but didn’t really have a name for until I truly came to yoga and learned more about it.

When I was first considering it and tossing it around, a woman I know told me I should think about the fact that it would be there on my arm when my girls get married and I’m the mother of the bride. Like that would be a bad thing. I can’t remember if I asked her or just thought this: Why is it okay to wear a cross or a star around your neck but not to have an Om tattooed on your arm?

In the book Om Chanting and Meditation, author Amit Ray says:

Om is not just a sound or vibration. It is not just a symbol. It is the entire cosmos, whatever we can see, touch, hear and feel. Moreover, it is all that is within our perception and all that is beyond our perception. It is the core of our very existence. If you think of Om only as a sound, a technique or a symbol of the Divine, you will miss it altogether…. It is the eternal song of the Divine. It is continuously resounding in silence on the background of everything that exists.

I can’t really improve upon that.

One of my teachers said recently that chanting Om validates your place in the universe; it’s a way of saying I am here. What better reminder to have on the inside of my forearm?


9 Comments on “My Om Tattoo”

  1. Denise says:

    Awesome Tracy. The tatt and the post!


  2. Terry says:

    It’s so perfect, I’m getting the exact same in three weeks! Good job!


  3. acamp says:

    I love this symbol and congrats for getting the tattoo. I have an Om that looks like yours on the back of my neck. I Waitress a few nights a week and wear my hair up off my neck. I’ve been feeling discouraged lately, because so many uneducated people will ask, “What’s that 33 mean on your neck?”…..UGH! I feel as if they are cutting down the meaning of my tat. It’s beautiful to me, but I wish people would keep their comments to themselves. I can’t explain what it means because it’s personal and they wouldn’t understand anyway!


  4. Natalie says:

    So simple, perfect, and beautiful! I’ve been debating the same things with my to be om tattoo. I really want it on my right inner wrist so I can see it every single day. However I’m a yoga teacher and I don’t want to be a cliche. Your post has inspired me to let go of any judgements that may be thrown my way and just go out and get the darn thing already! It truly is one of the most stunning symbols and the meaning is so pure, I can’t really think of a better tattoo 🙂


    • Thanks, Natalie! Yes — I think if it means something to you, do it. I am always surprised by how many people don’t know what it is, because it’s so familiar and essential to me. Post a picture here of yours when you get it! 🙂


  5. Evan says:

    I know I’m late to the party, but I just got the same tattoo for the same reasons (mine looks very similar to yours). It was something that I thought about for quite a while. To me, it symbolizes my connection with the universe and the divine.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s