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Visitors can contribute to a collective OM at Rubin Museum

Visitors can contribute to a collective OM in Rubin Museum installation

Rubin Museum
150 West 17th St. at Seventh Ave.
Wednesday - Monday through May 8, $10-$15 (free Fridays 6:00 - 10:00)

People have been chanting the sacred Sanskrit syllable “OM” for three centuries, believing it is “the sum total of everything.” Visitors are now offered the opportunity to become part of the largest collective OM in history in the participatory Rubin Museum exhibit “OM Lab.” Through May 8, everyone is invited to go to the sixth floor of the former Barney’s home and share their cosmic vibration in a sound booth. As you record your “OM,” your personal sound waves are projected on the wall behind the booth. As you wait in line, you can read banners that explore the derivation and utilization of the sound, including “The Supreme Mantra and Imperishable Truth,” “The Instrument of Transformation,” and “The Mantra of Many Faiths” (Hindu, Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism). “OM connects you to history,” Rosanne Cash explains in her “Why I OM” video made for the Rubin. “We connect to those who have done it before us. . . . There’s something about it; it just feels so good in your head, and in your chest, and in your mouth. It’s familiar.” That connection will be felt when the Rubin turns all of the “OM Lab” recordings into a single, collective chant that will be on display beginning June 16 in “The World Is Sound” exhibit. “Sound has always been a primary aspect of spiritual inquiry,” yoga master Rodney Yee says in his “Why I OM” video. “There is an open sound, and then there is an ending, a closure. So, ‘Amen,’ ‘OM,’ I think they do something to the physiology of the human body. They create both a giving and a receiving. It ends up actually having an amazing unifying effect if people allow themselves to drop into it.” And you don’t have to be a practitioner to participate; going into that booth and letting your OM sing is a freeing, cathartic experience, even if you’ve never done it before. In conjunction with the exhibit, on April 22 ($25) calligrapher and artist Tashi Mannox will host “Sacred Syllables and Their Sounds,” followed by the launch of the second edition of his book Sacred Scripts: A Meditative Journey Through Tibetan Calligraphy, and on May 6 ($108), Satya Scainetti will lead the workshop “Mala for Mother’s Day,” in which participants can create a garland of prayer beads made from angelite, black onyx, carnelian, fancy jasper, green onyx, or rose quartz, each of which has different peaceful properties for the mind, body, and soul.

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