INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. — Students ask what is om? Why does it impart such peace and powerful effects?OM is used both as a visual and an oral symbol in many yoga/meditation traditions representing the concept that the divine and individual consciousness are essentially the same.In the visual version, the long, lower curve represents the waking state and the material world, with the upper curve following on from it representing deep, dreamless sleep and the unconscious. Between the two, a third curve denotes dreaming and the thought world. Beyond these three states is the state of liberation, represented by the semi-circle and the dot. The incompleteness of the semi-circle signifies infinity, that finite thinking cannot reach the point in any meaningful way.Repetition of the syllable om as a mantra, and meditation on the om symbol, are a powerful means of awakening and balancing spiritual centers in the individual.Om is not a word but rather an intonation, which, like music, transcends the barriers of age, race, culture and even species. It is made up of three Sanskrit letters — aa, au and ma — which, when combined together, make the sound “aum” or om. It is a mantra or prayer in itself. If repeated with the correct intonation, it can resonate throughout the body so that the sound penetrates to the center of one's being, known as the atman or the soul.There is harmony, peace and bliss in this simple but deeply philosophical sound. By vibrating the sacred syllable om, the supreme combination of letters, it has a profoundly healing effect and can open energy centers within the body.While meditating, when we chant om, we create within ourselves a vibration that attunes sympathy with the cosmic vibration and we start thinking universally. The momentary silence between each chant becomes palpable. Mind moves between the opposites of sound and silence until, at last, it ceases the sound.In the silence, the single thought — om — is quenched; there is no thought. This is the state of trance, where the mind and the intellect are transcended as the individual self merges with the Infinite Self in the pious moment of realization. It is a moment when the petty worldly affairs are lost in the desire for the universal.How powerful can one word be? Try chanting the primordial sound om for a few minutes and you will soon find out. Om has the sound of all sounds in it. It is the sound that is heard when a mechanic listens to a finely tuned engine, it is the hum you hear when the wind blows through the trees and the sound you hear in a constant hum ... when you recognize the sound, you will hear it everywhere. Such is the immeasurable power of om.— Angelina Calafiore, CMT, CYT is the owner/director of Serendipity Yoga Center for Health and Wellbeing, newly located in the Village Center next to Art's Coffeehouse. The center will be hosting a Grand Opening with free yoga classes on July 14. Call Angelina at 530-559-1839 for more details.