OM - Meaning, Benefits, and Usage.
“Chant Om and you will attain your goal. If nothing else works, just chant Om.” -Patanjali
The Om symbol has been popularized recently yet no one knows its true meaning. Most people speculate peace, or oneness. To an extent true, but not completely. The word OM in an ancient sacred sound that symbolizes the four states of consciousness: The unconscious (sleep state), the subconscious (dream state), the conscious (wake state), and the transcendental (enlightened/unity state). In Sanskrit it is said to resemble Atman and Brahman. Atman being the soul, or the universe within and Brahman being the universe itself, divinity, cosmic wisdom, and the essence of reality.
OM is said to be the sound of the primordial universe, the void in which all manifests from. For if all manifestation comes from vibration, then OM is the root elemental of all manifestations. NASA have recorded the sounds in outer space and have found that it sounds very similar to a subtle OM through the recording. OM simply put is the entire universe and all its parts put into one sound. It is the universal symbol of knowledge that represents all that is, and all that will ever be. It is used in chants, incantations, and mantras because it invokes the spirit of the universe that works beyond space, and time. The universe is boundless, infinite, and full of love.
Three vowels are used in the sounding of OM, A-U-M. This has a major significance to the holy trinity. Mindy, body, and spirit which can also be Earth, Atmosphere, and Heaven.
“Om is the prime mantra of the Higher Self or Atman. It attunes us with our true nature. It is the sound of the creator, preserver, and destroyer of the universe, who is also the inner guru and prime teacher. It reflects both the manifest and un-manifest Brahman, sustaining the vibration of being, life, and consciousness in all worlds and all creatures.” - Frawley
Yogic practices go beyond just body movement. It is also the mediations, the prayers, and chanting. The goal of yoga is to silence the mind by focusing on the body in order to achieve a space of unity, opposed to the reality of duality. To enhance the yogic practice you start by repeating OM 108 with mala beads to bring balance and increase the connectivity of mind, body, and spirit. This will silence the mind, and bring you into a meditative space away from the chatter and dual thinking. This single focused attention will help to release stagnant energy from the body, and bring a person closer to their yogic goals, and spiritual awakening.
The simple chanting of OM sends vibrations through the brain that releases tension from the nervous system like an internal massage. Which is why it is a great way to start a meditation, prayer, of yogic practice. The divine essence of the word enhances prayers and mantras because it invokes the divine energies of the universe and all that is. For all manifestations come from the universe. Beyond the connection to the universe it is a ritual used to call upon and connect to the ancestors. Yogis believe that chanting OM connects them to their ancestors that have chanted OM for thousands of years before them.
Some cultures use OM as an opening statement to any prayer. It is believed that this universal sound has the ability to amplify and honor the prayer. Similarly, we can use OM before eating as a way to give thanks to the universe for the blessing of food and nourishment.
For people that have a hard time focusing their mind during meditation, OM can be just the tool they are looking for. To use OM in meditation begin by chanting out loud, as you progress start to lower your volume. When we reduce the sound of the chanting we begin to direct our attention to the subtle sound of the OM. This is an effective way to silence the chatter of the mind. Since OM is considered the sound of the void, if this practice is successful, then you would have silenced your mind and went into the void where miracles, manifestation, and divine connection happens.
“The analogy in Mundaka Upanishad describes that Om is the bow; the soul is the arrow; and Brahman is the target. The target is attained by an unerring man. One should become one with the target just like an arrow. This is to become one with the imperishable by eliminating the ideas of the body, ego, prana, hence being the self with nothing less than union with the absolute.”
How to OM
There are four main parts to OM = A U M .
- A - The first sound you make is an “aahh”. Try relaxing the body, the mind, and the jaw. Bring the sound up from your belly with your mouth opened.
- U - The second sound is “ooouuh”. In this part imagine the energy flowing from your belly and into your heart. You start this with your mouth open and begin to close it as you come closer to the next stage.
- M - The third sound is the humm of “mmmmm”. This is the most important part where you bring your tongue to the roof of your mouth as you bring your lips together. Try to stay in this state for as long as possible as this is the part where your tongue sends the vibration back into the head and vibrates the entire nervous system.
- The final stage after the AUM is the one that is usually left out, a moment of silence. This gives the mind, body, and spirit a moment to enjoy the peace, and take in the feeling of calm after the internal massage. It also gives a moment to enjoy the void.
Clinical trials on the effect of OM’s of the physiological and mental benefits have shown that the repetition of this as a mantra increases alertness, and acuity of all senses. In addition the vibrations of the chanting relaxes the autonomic nervous system which in turn regulates heart rate, blood pressure, and metabolism. Preliminary studies show that it also soothes the overly worked vagus nerve that has a positive effect on depression, and epilepsy.