In the beginning was the word and the word was God
The most ancient and primordial sound that was the first to emerge from the universe. Said to be the sound of the universe, but what does that mean?
Om is an opportunity for you to connect to what Divinity is for you.
The sound of OM is often coupled with either opening or closing of a yoga class. Most don’t know what it means or why we chant it.
It can be thought of as a unifying force, drawing individuals into the realization of oneness, that is Yoga.
It can be thought of like a big exhale, a reset button, a letting go.
It can be a prayer, a blessing for your heart’s highest intention as well as that for everyone.
Om is said to be an internal experience that cannot be explained. To try to explain it would be taking away the meaning, much like the experience of samadhi or nirvana.
Om combines language, sound and vibration in one. It is spoken in the Sanskrit language which is a vibrational language. It is more about the energetic quality of the sounds rather than the meaning or pronunciation. We humans have such logical minds. Our intentions become more powerful when we think we know, as opposed to just feeling. Om is one of the most known, used, ancient and sacred mantras of all. It has vast meaning, yet encompasses the nothingness that exists in everything.
Y.S 1.27 tasya vAcakAh praNavaH
The sacred word designating this creative source is the sound OM, called pranava, which means humming. When I think of people humming, I think of a conncetion to one’s inherent joy.
OM is a direct path
Remembering the sound vibration of AUM, along with a deep feeling of what it represents, brings both the realization of the individual Self and the removal of obstacles that normally block that realization.
This practice is like a shortcut; in that it goes directly to the heart of the process.
Breaking down OM
The different sounds vibrate in different parts of the body and represent: the 3 stages of consciousness, the Trimurti (3 fold, masculine Hindu trinity) and the gunas (the operating principles in all of the universe).
A - pronounced AHHHHHH
The sound is made in the back of the throat, lips and jaw relaxed
Vibrates in the belly/navel
Represents earth, birth, creation
Jagrat sleeping state
U - pronounced as OOOOOO
The sound is made in the mouth
Vibrates in the heart
Represents the present moment, now, all of life itself
Vishnu- the maintainer
Swapna- waking state
M - pronounced MMMMM
The sound is made with the lips and tongue to roof of mouth
Vibrates at the top of the head
Represents heaven and death
Shiva- the destroyer
Shusupti- dream state
OM and the states of Consciousness
There are either 4 main states of consciousness. 3 main states of consciousness and one of superconsciousness. These states correspond to the physical symbol of AUM, as well as the vibrational chanted Om.
Jagrat: Waking state
The state where time and space prevail and we identify with our sense of I (ahamkara.)
This is an outwardly directed state, based around an external world.
This is the state where we are entrenched in the maya (illusion) or avidya (ignorance.)
Swapna: Dream state, or REM
Time and space also prevail here, but in a warped sense.
An inwardly directed state, but also based around impressions from the external world experienced during waking.
Sushupti : Deep sleep state
There is no time or space.
We are unconscious, and can only be aware of having been in this state by the results afterward of feeling refreshed and nourished.
Accessing this state is essential for physical, mental and spiritual well-being.
Turiya : Superconscious state
There is no time or space.
We identify with the oneness of being.
This state lacks the duality of either wakefulness or sleeping, conscious or unconscious, inward or outward, aware or unaware, and is all of it and none of it at the same time.
Oneness of being.
Sound fades into nothing Silence Turiya Absolute
Om is the imperishable word. Om is the universe, and this is the exposition of om. The past, the present and the future, all that was, all that is, all that will be is om. Likewise, all else that may exist beyond the bounds of time,
That too is om.
Y.S 1.23 Ishvara praNidhAnAd vA
From a special process of devotion and letting go into the creative source from which we emerged (ishvara pranidhana), the coming of samadhi is
From this devotion one discovers their personal name and form of God.
Ishvara- Creative source, pure consciousness, purusha, God, supreme Guru/teacher
Pranidhana- Practicing the presence, sincerity, dedication, devotion, surrender of the fruits of practice
Through the sincere, dedicated, and devoted practice towards the pure consciousness purusha, God, or guru, which is symbolized by AUM, the results of samadhi come more quickly.
In the Upanishads, the word Ishvara is used to denote a state of collective consciousness.
Y.S 1.25 Tatra Niratishayam Sarvajna bijam
In that pure consciousness of Ishvara the seed of omnipresence and omnipotence is obtained. That is pure in that it is free from karma and the kleshas.
Y.S 1.28 Tat Japah Tat Artha Bhavanam
It is important to remember all the meanings of Om as you chant it. Not repeating in an automatic, unconscious manner.
Cultivate a relationship
Every time you chant om it is an opportunity for you to consider what your name and form of God is and what that relationship means to you. Om can awaken a devotion to this relationship, it can be a place that reflects the utmost high within you. If you don’t have a personal name and form of God, Om can start to open the invitation to that relationship. Whatever your intention is when you Om, the inevitable reality is that one day the importance of this relationship will start to awaken inside of you.
Knowing means nothing
Although it is important to explore the meanings of Om, it is in your hearts experience that you will receive the most insight. Attaining knowledge and cultivating intelligence is essential, but when knowledge learned is experienced we live in a state of inner wisdom that inspires and guides through life.