You may hear this sacred sound at the beginning and/or end of a Yoga class, or perhaps you have seen the symbol in spiritual related art. Either way, it is valuable to know and understand the significance behind the sound and symbol that has made its way around the world.. and is even said to be, "The sound of the Universe".
Made up (and resemblant) of 3 (sacred number in itself) syllables, OM is phonetically pronounced "aaahh", "oohhh", "mmm". The vibrational energy of the "mmm" is quite powerful if you allow it to be; it has the potential to be felt all throughout your body and being. But as easy as Om is to pronounce, it is not nearly as easy to define.
The syllables are said to represent the triangular forces of the Heavens, Earth, and the underworld. While Hindus view it as representation of Gods - Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva (creator God, sustainer God, and destroyer God). In the realm of consciousness, Yoganand refers to OM as the waking, dreaming, and dreamless states, "To represent all of consciousness".
This is already sounding pretty significant is it not? And it goes even deeper...
The first references of OM come from the Upanishads, a collection of sacred texts written in India at some point between 800 BCE and 500 BCE. It is within the Upanishads that one may find fundamental teachings upon concepts of karma (action), samsara (reincarnation), moksha (nirvana), atman (soul), and so much more. The Upanishads are also a significant reference for souls exploring the depths of yoga and meditation as these doctrines are summits of thought on mankind and the Universe, designed to push human ideas to their very limit and beyond. They deliver us both spiritual vision and philosophical argument.
The Mandukya Upanishad is specifically devoted to Om, and it says, "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, and all that will ever be is Om. Likewise, all else that may exist beyond the bounds of time, that too is Om."
Because of this, Om is used as the mother of the bija (seed mantras) such as one of my favorites, "Om Shanti Shanti Shanti" which means - peace for all human kind, peace for all living and non-living beings, peace for the Universe, peace for each and every aspect of this entire cosmic manifestation.
Some even say that Om is among the sounds recorded in deep space.. Hmmm
Is OM ringing in anyone else's mind and heart yet?! Gush
The connections run even deeper. Om represents the union of mind, body, and spirit. In its essence of union, it can also connect us to the divine and to those who have chanted its vibration long before we even came into this worldly existence. "We chant it because yogis have for thousands of years. And when we chant it, we're connecting with those yogis in a ritual way, drawing upon the support of the practices they've been doing for a long, long time" Yoganand says. He reaffirms that Om creates a link, "It's a sound that validates oneness and harmony."
This unity can be felt and experienced in group settings which is why I truly appreciate a teacher who incorporates the chanting of 3 sacred Oms. We are guided to take a full deep breath, then inhale deeply through the nose, and as we exhale, we release "AUOOHMM" a pleasant vibration that travels throughout our mouth, down our spine, and can be absorbed through our ear drums by the sounds of those partaking around us. I even do this in group settings with friends for fun. We sit and connect hand by hand - right hand faced up to receive - left hand faced down to give. I feel it to be a special way to connect with the ones I love and with the Divine energies of life.
Give it a try! Let me know not what you think, but how you feel ;)
OM is where the heart is.